The Washington Association for Language Teaching has long advocated for equitable access to languages. We believe that all students should be able to study and be recognized for the languages that have been part of their lives since birth or became a part of their lives by choice. We equally believe that all languages should have a home in our schools whether it’s in traditional world language classrooms, dual language immersion content-based programs, innovative student self-directed learning opportunities, or heritage and indigenous language programs. We strongly support community-based language learning, as well.
The following are some of the programs or initiatives that WAFLT believes contribute to our goal of equitable access to languages:
Since 2011, WAFLT has collaborated with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) World Languages office to support school districts that would like to offer World Language proficiency testing to their students. Through this language testing, students may earn from 1 to 4 Competency-Based World Language Credits in a language they know, regardless of when, where, or how they learned it. Their test results may also qualify them for the State Seal of Biliteracy at high school graduation. The University of Washington Language Learning Center now hosts a dedicated website for WAFLT Language Testing. This site provides information for districts, schools, and students, as well as information for ordering Custom Tests for less commonly taught/tested languages.
WAFLT was one of the key partners advocating for the legislation that passed in 2014 that established the Washington State Seal of Biliteracy. To help lower costs for smaller school districts in Washington State, WAFLT has purchased limited supplies of Seal of Biliteracy medallions, which small districts can order at a cost of $6 each (includes mailing costs). Since only high school graduates in public schools in WA can earn the State Seal of Biliteracy, WAFLT encourages students in independent schools or home schoolers to pursue the Global Seal of Biliteracy.
WAFLT is also advocating for teachers (and language learners of any age) to earn the Global Seal of Biliteracy. We support this initiative by coordinating Proficiency Assessments, such as the STAMP Test. Order test(s) at STAMP TESTING FOR GLOBAL SEAL OF BILITERACY.
Meet the first WAFLT member in Washington state to earn the Global Seal of Biliteracy – in Japanese! Melissa Urushidani describes her experience taking the STAMP test in English, then Mandarin, and finally, Japanese. She has qualified for the Global Seal of Biliteracy in Japanese (and English) at the Working Fluency (Advanced Low) level. WAFLT STAMP Testing for Global Seal of Biliteracy for Teacher.
WAFLT advocates for Languages without Borders, an unofficial working group, hosted by the University of Washington Language Learning Center, that seeks to collaborate with educators, administrators, educational organizations and the Washington State OSPI to increase options for inter-institutional access to language education and recognition. Our goals are to:
Prioritize Indigenous (e.g., Lushootseed, Inuktitut) and less-commonly taught languages (LCTLs) (e.g., Nepali, Somali) languages
Provide a system for students outside of a particular higher education system (e.g., UW's system) to allow for cross-institution enrollment in certain contexts (e.g., PLU Students to UW, Washington State High Schools to UW).
Work with OSPI and WAFLT to standardize competency-based credit testing for languages not taught at UW and other institutions. (This includes creating testing opportunities for students who are not enrolled in a school that currently offers them.)
Challenge the state Legislature to fund tuition for Indigenous and less-commonly taught language courses to motivate students to take them.
Increase support for the development of LCTL Open Educational Resources.
If successful, promote this model outside of the state.
Questions? Contact: Dr. Russ Hugo email@example.com
WAFLT advocates support the Legislature’s commitment to expanding language access for students and families. In 2019, the Legislature passed House Bill 1130 (HB 1130) which created the Language Access Workgroup. In 2021, the Legislature extended the workgroup until December 2021 to submit additional recommendations for:
Standards, training, testing, and credentialing for spoken and sign language interpreters for students' families and
For collecting information related to language access services in schools and school districts.
WAFLT intends to monitor progress on recommendations in the 2021 Final Report to the Legislature | Spanish (see also Appendix B - Student and Student's Family Language Data | Spanish).
The goal of the “America's Languages Initiative” is to bring about systemic change in the way language education is perceived and implemented in this country. Specifically, access to language learning must become more equitable for learners in marginalized bilingual and disadvantaged monolingual communities. (accessed 5/6/2022)
WAFLT advocates from among the America’s Languages Fellows are committed to helping World Language leaders in Washington state contribute to the goals of the America’s Languages Initiative, including making sure that exemplary language programs in Washington State are represented in the America’s Languages Portal.