World Language FAQs
- What are the certification requirements to teach World Language in Washington?
- What are the World Language graduation requirements for students in Washington?
- What languages and program types are offered in Washington schools?
- What does DLI mean?
- Are kindergartens in Washington required to offer World Languages?
- How long does it take to become fluent in a World Language?
- Can a student earn credit for World Language through a proficiency test rather than taking coursework at school?
- Does Washington state offer the Seal of Biliteracy?
- Is it possible for a community school or community culture club to gain district approval to conduct world language proficiency testing for credit through their off-site organization?
- Are there World Language resources that I could access?
What are the certification requirements to teach World Language in Washington?
What are the World Language graduation requirements for students in Washington?
It depends on the year of graduation. For details, see: Graduation Requirements
What languages and program types are offered in Washington schools?
It depends on the district and the school.
- The most frequently taught languages in Washington schools include, but are not limited to: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Spanish is the most prevalent world language taught due to student elective demand and available resources, including certified teachers. Languages offered and program types are subject to change in each district.
- World Language courses for credit often begin in middle school and articulate up through high school, depending on the district. Some districts offer 4–5 years of world language credit-bearing coursework, including capstone programs such as World Language Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB).
- Numerous elementary schools offer Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs. Languages vary and program intensity varies (i.e., 50/50 instructional model vs. 60/40 instructional model). For a recent list of districts that offer elementary school immersion programs, see: Language Immersion School Districts
What does DLI mean?
DLI means Dual Language Immersion. DLI is a research-based way for students to learn core content through English and through a world language. This intense language learning starts in the elementary school. Core content (i.e., reading, math, writing, social studies, and science) is learned through a world language, such as Chinese, French, Spanish, or Vietnamese, as well as through English. Monolingual students of English and native speaking students of another language learn together. There are different DLI program models such as:
- 50/50 (time in each language is shared 50/50).
- 60/40 (time in English is 60 percent and time in the other language is 40 percent).
Schools that offer DLI generally run their elementary school programs from kindergarten through grade 5. Some districts provide continuous vertical articulation of DLI cohort groups into middle school (grades 6–8) and high school (grades 9–12).
Are kindergartens in Washington required to offer World Languages?
Washington schools that receive state funding for full-day kindergarten are required to provide experiences in a world language. For more information, go to: Early Language Experiences
How long does it take to become fluent in a World Language?
The majority of students entering schools in the state of Washington come from monolingual English speaking homes and need a longer sequence (4–6 years) of study in a single world language to become relatively fluent or meaningfully functional. Two years of a world language studied in middle school or high school does not render a student fluent for functioning in the real world. Not unless considerable time is also spent “in country” of the language being studied. Note: Students with a background in a language other than English tend to become fluent more quickly when studying an additional world language at school.
As students organize their Career and College plan for high school graduation, it is important to consider the time it takes, on average, to become meaningfully functional (relatively fluent) in a world language. It is also wise to check the college entrance requirements for world languages (please contact your college of choice), and consider which career the student wants to pursue after high school. Two questions should be asked:
- “What do I want to do in life?”
- “How can world languages help me get there?”
Please reference the OSPI World Languages Career and College Goals chart for helpful information in planning ahead with world languages in mind.
Can a student earn credit for World Language through a proficiency test rather than taking coursework at school?
Yes, depending on the district. “Competency-based Credit” is approved by the state of Washington and is available through many (not all) Washington school districts. Participation in Competency-based Credit testing is encouraged but considered voluntary for Washington state school districts. Many offer this credit-equivalency approach and more districts come on board each year. Note: There is no guarantee that a student will qualify for high school world language credit equivalency through competency-based proficiency testing. Students must be prepared in several skills such as speaking, reading, and writing, depending on the language tested. For detailed instruction on Competency-based Credit, see: World Languages Competency-based Credit. See also the Washington State Board of Education FAQs about Competency-based Credit.
Does Washington state offer the Seal of Biliteracy?
Yes. The Seal of Biliteracy was enacted by Governor Inslee in the spring of 2014. Since then, thousands of graduating high school students across the state have earned this academic achievement award. It is voluntary on the part of the district to make this award available. However, each year more districts choose to do so. It benefits all students. For complete information on the Seal of Biliteracy in Washington, see: Seal of Biliteracy
See also Question #17 of the Washington State Board of Education FAQs about Competency-based Credit.
Is it possible for a community school or community culture club to gain district approval to conduct world language proficiency testing for credit through their off-site organization?
Yes, it is possible, but it depends. Community schools and language-related community culture clubs must follow OSPI guidelines for gaining district approval for credits potentially earned “away from the district.” Please reference WAC 392-410-300 for guidelines on proposing World Language equivalency credit recognition to your student’s resident public school. The ultimate decision resides with the student’s resident public school district and the protocols must be agreed-upon prior to testing.
Are there World Language resources that I can access?
Yes. For example, a comprehensive national report on “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century” was published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) in March of 2017. This report was in response to a national bipartisan request from senators and representatives in 2014, that we “value language education as a persistent national need similar to education in math or English, and to ensure that a useful level of proficiency is within every student’s reach.” The report points out that one of the greatest challenges we have in America is that of teaching capacity. This is true nationally and in Washington. Bottom line: We need to teach more of America’s children more languages at an earlier age. To do so, we need additional world language teachers. See: World Language Resources
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