Seal of Biliteracy Launched!

The Seattle Times article on June 26, 2015 announced: “Hundreds of bilingual graduates earn new state seal proving their language skills.” They reported on the recent recognition of students earning the State Seal of Biliteracy for the first time: “Seattle Public Schools awarded the seal to 195 graduates this year, and Highline Public Schools awarded it to 150.”

Then the article was picked up as the lead article in the ASCD SmartBrief, so the word was out nationally. By Monday, June 29, I had received an email from our former Spanish language consultant in Washington state who has returned to Madrid last fall, Eva González Abad, who had seen the announcement there. So word was out around the world.

State Seal of Biliteracy

State Seal of Biliteracy

Late May and early June in Seattle we hurried to get Seal of Biliteracy medallions to all qualifying seniors to wear during graduation. We heard from some schools about how excited the students were to receive this honor. Now we’ve prepared envelopes with an example of how to affix the Seal of Biliteracy “sticker” to their diplomas once they receive them later this summer. We have also provided letters with the test results that qualified them for the Seal so they could share those with colleges and employers.

One community language teacher asked me earlier this spring, What does it mean? Why would a student want to have the State Seal of Biliteracy? To be honest, it doesn’t mean much yet… because business and higher education are not yet aware of this new flood of very linguistically capable students who will be entering college and the workforce in the coming years. But word travels fast, doesn’t it? Maybe one day America will be known as a language learning mecca.

Michele Anciaux Aoki, Ph.D.
International Education Administrator
Seattle Public Schools


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Global Leadership Summer Institute for Educators

The Global Leadership Summer Institute for Educators, designed by teachers for teachers, will take place August 3-7, 2015 at Seattle University. Join K-12 teachers from all around the region for a week-long workshop, and walk away with free resources, new approaches, and a community of support to begin integrating global issues and sustainable solutions into your classroom. Educators will learn to build a democratic classroom where​​ students enter as learners and leave as empowered and engaged global leaders.

Global Leadership is both a methodology and a course designed to empower and engage students by developing leadership skills in the classroom. This Summer Institute will provide teachers of all content areas with a highly effective approach to creating a climate of mutual respect and shared ownership in which student leaders become engaged global leaders both in and out of the classroom.

Learn more and register at Global Visionaries website.

There is also a one-day Global Leadership Workshop on August 28, 2015. Learn more.

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One World Now! Announcements

Travel to Morocco this Summer!

The 2015 Morocco Language & Leadership Summer Institute with OneWorld Now! will take high school students on a life changing journey to develop intercultural leadership skills, explore Moroccan and Arab culture through home stays and historical sites, and learn Arabic language. OneWorld Now! has 12 years’ experience sending students in our Global Leadership Program abroad. This is the first year they are opening their summer study abroad programs to students who are not enrolled in their academic year program. Read more about the program. The application is due on March 31.

Student-planned and student-led, the OWN Get Global Youth Conference is designed to empower youth and young social entrepreneurs to take action on important global issues.

Get Global 2015 – April 25 at the University of Washington

OneWorld Now! Seattle and OneWorld Now! Hawai‘i will come together to present dynamic workshops and inspiring “OWN Talks” to foster meaningful and intentional dialogue about the intersection of social justice issues, global issues, and the role of youth. OWN Get Global will also feature a global fashion and talent show. Lunch includes cuisine from around the world. This event is for high school students and is one of few conferences in the nation that is organized and facilitated exclusively by high school youth!

Student workshops will fall under the following categories:

  • Climate Change
  • Consumption and Consumerism
  • Global Health
  • Governance
  • Human Rights
  • Peace and Conflict
  • Population and Carrying Capacity
  • Poverty

OWN Get Global will be a free event for registered participants. Registration closes on April 24, 2015. OWN Get Global will take place on Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Washington Seattle Campus at the Ethnic Cultural Center (3931 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle).

Learn more at OWN Get Global 2015.

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“Russian Classroom” Project a Success

The University of Washington recently successfully completed the “Russian Classroom” project. Five months of professional development courses for teachers of Russian language, consisting of both classroom-based and online instruction, culminated in a two-day workshop at the UW attended by more than 60 teachers and university instructors of Russian, history and culture. They gathered on the campus of the University and the “Rodnik” School of Russian language to attend lectures, take part in a roundtable discussion and in master classes led by experts in the field of teaching Russian language from the University of Washington and Moscow State Pedagogical University. In late May, 34 participants received a certificate of successful completion of the course. They praised the work of the instructors and course organizers and expressed their desire to participate in methodological seminars at the University of Washington again next year.

This program was made possible by a grant from the “Russkiy Mir” Foundation to the Language Learning Center and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington, along with the support of the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies (REECAS).

Read the full report about the “Russian Classroom” Project or visit the UW Russian Classroom websiteVideo presentations by Dr. Elizabeth Khamraeva and Dr. Olga Drozdova are now available on the Russian Classroom Media page.

* * * * * *
While this program was focused on Russian language, I believe it can be a model for how to work effectively with community-based language programs in any language to increase the effectiveness of their language teachers and connect them with resources and expertise both here and abroad.

Michele Anciaux Aoki, Ph.D.
International Education Administrator, Seattle Public Schools
Consultant to the “Russian Classroom” Project

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World Language Credit Videos — Translated

Thanks to the generous support of the Road Map Project Rapid Resource Fund, the video for the World Language Credit Program has been translated into the 11 top languages in South King County (with 2 more – Arabic and Russian – coming soon!). This video highlights the benefits of students’ earning credits for languages they know. (Although the video is focused on the 7 Road Map districts in South King County, students across the state have been testing and earning credits since 2012.)

Here’s the original video in English:

Now, check out the translated videos on One America’s website.

For more information, read Education Northwest’s study about this program:
The Impact of the Road Map World Language Credit Program on Student Attitudes Toward Bilingualism and School.




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Diplomacy Summit in Seattle

Learn what it takes to have a career in the Foreign Service! Students can attend a Careers in the Foreign Service panel from 3:45-5:00 PM on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at the Diplomacy Begins Here regional summit. The cost is $5.


  • Ambassador Lewis Lukens – Diplomat in Residence for the Northwest, U.S. Department of State
  • Ms. Thao Hong – Boeing Commercial Airplanes & Ret. Foreign Service Officer
  • Ambassador Roger A. Meece – Former Ambassador to Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mr. Chris Mrozowski – Branch Chief, IVLP On Demand Division, Office of International Visitors, U.S. Department of State

On April 9, 2015, join the World Affairs Council of Seattle, Global Ties U.S., and the U.S. Department of State at the Diplomacy Begins Here regional summit in Seattle! Seattle is one of eight cities selected to hold a regional summit.

The summits celebrate the 75th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) – the premier U.S. Department of State professional development exchange program – in addition to other exchange programs and activities in our region. The World Affairs Council of Seattle supports these exchanges through its International Visitor Program.

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Language Events for Japanese and Chinese

Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle recently hosted two important language events for students learning Japanese and Chinese.

Washington State Japanese Immersion Day Camp

On March 21, 2015, 85 high school students from 11 schools around Washington state participated in a Japanese immersion camp at Chief Sealth International High School. They were joined by 24 Japanese students on exchange through a Japanese government program called Kakehashi, and participated in cultural classes such as calligraphy, Japanese fencing, Kempo Karate, Japanese cooking, and tea ceremony. They also formed teams to do a playful athletic competition as well as a Japan Knowledge Bowl.

At the end, the top three teams were honored and presented with Japanese gifts, and then the names of students who were outgoing at camp were drawn and also presented with Japanese gifts. This is a popular yearly event that deepens and furthers both students’ interest in and understanding of Japanese language and culture.

2015 Cultural Exploration Chinese Scholastic Contest

The Cultural Exploration Scholastic Competition is an event to encourage students who are interested in Chinese culture and language to participate to share their talent with students from other schools. This year’s event took place at Chief Sealth International High School on March 22, 2015.

It started with around 150 participants six years ago at Interlake High School. It has been held at Sealth since 2011. It’s hosted by Cultural Exploration of Greater China Foundation and co-sponsored by Confucius Institute of the State of Washington, Chinese Language Teacher Association Washington State and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Washington State.  This event took six months to plan. 161 awards were granted including 89 individual and 49 team awards to top three winners of each category, division, and class. Also, due to a large number of contestants in some categories, 13 additional Honorable Mention awards were given as well.

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Washington State Global Issues Network Conference a Success!

On March 6 and 7, 2015, nearly 200 middle and high school students from 20 schools from 4 states participated in the inaugural Washington State Global Issues Network Conference. The aim of the conference was to bring youth together to share ideas for taking action on critical global issues. See the conference website for the list of the 20 global issues. Student teams who attend the conference presented workshop sessions about action projects that they have carried out. Each team created a 1-2 minute trailer for their workshop, which was shown as part of a film festival throughout the weekend. (You can view them from the website workshop pages, including Workshop Session 1, Workshop Session 2, Workshop Session 3, and Workshop Session 4.) Conference participants also heard from seven dynamic keynote speakers including Chris Jordan, Amy Benson, John Delaney, and Cristina Orbe.

On Friday, March 6, students visited a Global Action Fair with 25 nonprofit organizations and government agencies who carry out work related to the 20 global issues. One of the tables included twenty elementary students from Beacon Hill International School who shared information about their exciting garden project. Throughout the weekend, students met in “Global Villages,” groups of 10 students, all from different schools, who engaged in youth-facilitated discussions. The conference concluded with a high-energy drum circle facilitated by Maketa Wilborn. See this West Seattle Blog article for more details.

Congratulations to Chief Sealth International High School for hosting the 1st Annual Washington Global Issues Network Conference!

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Is any publicity good publicity?

Looking at all the media coverage of HB 1445 (“Using computer sciences to satisfy world language college admission requirements.”, I am reminded of that old saying, “Any publicity is good publicity” or “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

On the one hand, much of the media coverage seems to perpetuate the idea that “learning 2-3 years of a foreign language in high school is a waste of time,” but, on the other hand, at least they’re talking about language learning. And it’s interesting to see the arguments made for starting language learning earlier.

Here are a few samples related to this bill.

Washington lawmakers want computer science to count as foreign language
If bill passes, two years of comp sci would count toward university admission.
Ars Technica | 2/6/2014 (accessed 3/9/2015)

“The bill’s author, Representative Chris Reykdal told Ars that while he does believe in a ‘well-rounded’ education including foreign language, most students end up studying a language for the first time in high school—far too late to usually be effective.

“If we were serious, we would put language in our elementary schools when the brain is mapping in a different way, and we would have kids fluent by 6th or 7th grade,” he said. “By high school it’s just a way for kids to get into college. If we’re serious about language, we should embed it earlier.”  …

“I’ve nothing against students learning more about programming, but I think it’s a disingenuous way of getting around foreign language requirements,” Patrick Cox, an editor on PRI’s The World, and the host of The World in Words podcast, told Ars by e-mail. “It’s an indication of the low value that many American politicians—and unfortunately, educators—place on foreign language learning. No linguist I know of buys the argument that a computer programming language is even close to a natural language and should be treated as such.”

Here’s another…

Wash. Bill Would Let High School Students Take Computer Science Instead Of Foreign Language
KPLU 88.5 | 2/4/2014 (accessed 3/9/2015)

“People from the higher education community who spoke against the bill say while students may not remember much Spanish or Japanese after high school, taking such classes makes them well rounded and culturally competent to deal with the world.”

Or another…

Washington Bill Would Count Programming As A Foreign Language On College Apps
Fast Company | (accessed 3/9/2015)

“As the Learn 2 Code movement swells and pushes increasingly toward educating youth, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea, especially since learning programming is kind of like learning a different language. A study released by an international team of researchers last April used MRI scanners to discern whether programming was more closely related to math or language disciplines in the brain—and found a tenuous association favoring language.

“‘It appears to make some sense, based on what we have learned from the study,’ University of Passau computer scientist Janet Siegmund told Fast Company.’ Actually, with these kinds of studies, you should always say that more studies need to be done. But what we found is that it appears to be related.'”

And yet another… takes sides on dueling bills promoting computer science in Washington State
Geek Wire | 2/5/2015 (accessed 3/9/2015)

“Two bills are currently vying for attention in the state House of Representatives: HB 1813, which expands computer science education through a grant program, and HB 1445, which proposes using computer science courses to satisfy college world language requirements.” …

“The problem in Washington, he [Seattle-based co-founder and CEO Hadi Partovi] adds, ‘isn’t that computer science doesn’t satisfy graduation requirements. That was a problem in 2013, and we solved that by allowing (computer science) to count as math or science. The problem today is that computer science isn’t even being taught in the majority of schools.'”  …

“The non-profit has dealt with similar matters in the past. Almost exactly a year ago it argued on its blog that, ‘Computer science is not a foreign language.'”


Blog post by Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki,
Member of WAFLT (Washington Association for Language Teaching), and
ACTFL American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and
NADSFL (National Association for District Supervisors for Language), and
Associate Member of  NCSSFL (National Council of State Supervisors for Language)

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Early Language Learning is a good idea, but not at 10 minutes/day

Continuing to review a bill introduced this session in the Washington State Legislature, “Using computer sciences to satisfy world language college admission requirements” (HB 1445 – 2015-16, I’d like to say a few words about another interesting provision in the substitute version from February 18. This one give a nod to the benefits (and costs) of offering language instruction in a language other than English in grades 1 to 8. (Presumably, this would leave high school students free to pursue computer science classes in place of beginning world language courses.)

“The office of the superintendent of public instruction shall conduct a study to assess the implication of adding ten minutes of instruction to the school day, as defined in RCW828A.150.203, for grades one through eight for the purpose of learning a world language other than English. The study must address the costs associated with the additional instruction time, the impacts on teachers and districts, the benefits of introducing a world language at a younger age, the anticipated effects of requiring additional curriculum, and any other measures the office of the superintendent of public instruction deems appropriate. The office of the superintendent of public instruction shall report the findings of the study to the legislature by November 1, 2017.”

This provision is indeed interesting since the office of superintendent of public instruction (OSPI) already spent time researching options for early language learning when “Providing experiences in science, social studies, arts, health and physical education, and a world language other than English” became part of the requirements for state-funded full-day kindergartens. (See: The OSPI resources can be downloaded at:

Learning a language for 10 minutes a day is not the path to developing language proficiency — whether it’s for one year or eight. But, let’s hear what students themselves have to say about that…


Blog post by Dr. Michele Anciaux Aoki,
Member of WAFLT (Washington Association for Language Teaching), and
ACTFL American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and
NADSFL (National Association for District Supervisors for Language), and
Associate Member of  NCSSFL (National Council of State Supervisors for Language)

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