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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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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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.” http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445), 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…

Code.org 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 Code.org 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 Code.org 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 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445), 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: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.315.) The OSPI resources can be downloaded at: http://www.k12.wa.us/WorldLanguages/WorldLanguageExperiences.aspx.

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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Competency-Based Credits for World Languages is a good idea, but we already have them

It is not unusual for bills in the Legislature to experience modifications as they progress through their journey to a vote. In the case of a bill this session in the Washington State Legislature, “Using computer sciences to satisfy world language college admission requirements” (HB 1445 – 2015-16 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445), the substitute version from February 18 includes several interesting additions. These additions do not change the basic intent of the bill (the merits of which I have discussed in an earlier blog post), but they do deserve attention.

One new addition is the provision that the “student achievement council shall study and include in the report to the legislature required in this section what elements a world language competency-based assessment would need to include in order to successfully measure a student’s ability to proficiently read, write, and speak a world language other than English. The world language competency-based assessment should be designed with the intention that high school students could meet college academic distribution requirements for admission purposes into the state universities, regional universities, and the state college, each as defined in RCW 28B.10.016, via a competency-based assessment in lieu of two credits of world language course work in high school.”

Interestingly enough, a state model policy and procedure for awarding Competency-Based Credits in World Languages has already been in place since 2010. In the past five years, several thousand students have been tested and earned one to four Competency-Based Credits for World Languages in a variety of districts around the state. All but a few students who have tested (in more than 50 languages) have been able to satisfy the college admissions requirement of two high school credits of the same world language.

The state model policy and procedure, as well as FAQs from the State Board of Education (SBE) are posted on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website:
http://www.k12.wa.us/WorldLanguages/CompetencyBasedCredits.aspx. The SBE FAQs  indicated that the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) (predecessor to the Student Achievement Council) revised its minimum admission standards policy in 2011 to state:

“Students may meet the World Language requirement through passage of a district approved competency assessment consistent with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines in order to ensure consistency across languages. The State Board of Education provides a sample policy for districts and recommended assessment tools. Assessment procedures for other subject areas will be established in the future.”

Furthermore, in March 2014, the Legislature passed the Seal of Biliteracy bill, which explicitly states that the “criteria [for earning the Seal] must permit a student to demonstrate proficiency in another world language through multiple methods including nationally or internationally recognized language proficiency tests and competency-based world language credits awarded under the model policy adopted by the Washington state school directors’ association.” Read more about the Seal of Biliteracy on the OSPI website.

One disadvantage of the current program for Competency-Based Credits is that it requires each district (and we have 295 of them in Washington, although a few don’t have high schools) to adopt some version of the model policy and procedure described above. Some districts have done that quickly, but others have taken no action yet even though they have students who have completed testing and qualified for credits. Perhaps getting Competency-Based Credits for World Languages officially codified into law would increase the opportunities for students to earn credits since it would be a state law, rather than a local decision.

What would help the most is if the Legislature would provide some funding so that local school districts could afford to offer testing opportunities for their students. Tests for some languages (like Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and even Arabic) are reasonably priced. But tests for other languages that are well-represented among English Language Learners in our state, like Russian, Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Somali, Nepali, and many more, are much more expensive. (For a list of languages and testing options, see the information posted on the OSPI website > World Language Assessment Days.)

A report produced last fall by Education Northwest as part of the Road Map World Language Credit Program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that the program gave students flexibility in their schedules and the time to enroll in advanced-level courses.

It seems this is exactly what HB 1445 would like to accomplish. Perhaps the next substitute version of the bill will include funds for testing. (The Gates funding for the Road Map World Language Credit Program ends this fall.)

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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When is a bad idea a good idea?

When I first got word that the Washington State Legislature was considering a bill entitled “Using computer sciences to satisfy world language college admission requirements.” (HB 1445 – 2015-16 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445),  I thought to myself, well, that’s a BAD idea. Our new state World Languages Program Supervisor reached out to colleagues in the National Council of State Supervisors for Language (NCSSFL) to hear what’s been happening in other states. There were some great responses:

We have had this provision in Oklahoma for many years (since 1991). No one was making the case that computer technology was a “language” per se. It was primarily done because the many rural schools in our state could not find language teachers that would be hired just to teach 2 courses (levels 1 & 2—our high school graduation requirement), and it was easier to find someone who could be hired to teach full time combining a content level with computer technology. That is the crux of the problem here—language teacher shortages and rural schools having to juggle their student needs with their inability to staff their schools adequately due to their circumstances. This, too, will have to be addressed in any advocacy efforts.
– Desa Dawson, Director of World Language Education, Oklahoma State Department of Education

I keep going back to the State Standards that need to guide learning in every subject area. If computer programming is being considered a language, I would simply ask how well it addresses the Washington State Standards for learning languages – with all 5 goal areas: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. And to go one step further – the goal area of Communication is not about grammar and syntax – it is about interpersonal communication (interaction and negotiation of meaning); interpretive communication (understanding and analyzing a message received); and presentational communication (knowing the audience, purpose, and task). The World-Readiness Standards have explicitly embedded literacy strategies (and Washington is a Common Core state) and 21st century skills (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity). So, how does computer programming address these language standards?
– Paul Sandrock, Director of Education, American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

Programming languages are not the same as spoken or signed languages. They are expressions of logic, similar to mathematical proofs. As such, it would be much more appropriate to give students math credit for successfully completing a programming language course.
– Article in the Huffington Post co-authored by Marty Abbott, Executive Director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), “Computer Science Is Not a Foreign Language.” Posted 2/20/2014 http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4823691 (retrieved 2/7/2015)

Kentucky Senate President Pro Tem David Givens has filed a bill that would allow students to get foreign language credit for studying a computer programming language.
This is an incredibly bad idea.
I learned a foreign language before I learned English and then went on to study three more foreign languages in high school, college and graduate school so I know the differences between learning a language as a native speaker and learning it in a school setting.
Furthermore, as a computer scientist for over 30 years, I have studied, used and taught a wide variety of programming languages. Though both kinds are “languages,” they are very different. Our children need to study both.
– Article in the Lexington-Herald Leader, “Language of computing, language of cultures not comparable.” Posted 2/3/2015 http://www.kentucky.com/2015/02/03/3676508_language-of-computing-language.html?rh=1 (retrieved 2/7/2015)

So, it seems I’m not alone in thinking that this is a bad idea. And I myself am pretty familiar with both human languages and computer programming. I’ve learned to communicate in over 8 languages (besides English) and I have a Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics. But I also spent twenty years as a computer programmer/systems analyst. In fact, to be honest, after finishing my Ph.D. general exams, I needed a “real” job and a friend suggested that I try computer programming. I called the large insurance company that had the best reputation for training new programmers (ahem… back then computer science did not even exist on the university campus) to apply for a job. Actually, I called several times a week all summer long until they finally interviewed me. I claimed that having demonstrated that I could easily learn new languages, I was confident I could master computer languages too. They hired me. Fortunately, I was right, and I did become a very good programmer and eventually systems analyst and trainer.

No question that this bill is a bad idea for Washington.

Then, I decided to take a closer look. In reading the actual language of the bill, I realized that the purpose of the bill is to “facilitate a dialogue” and “produce a report to the Legislature by November 1, 2017.” The fiscal note would partially fund the State World Languages Program Supervisor in 2015-2016 to make that dialogue happen. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?year=2015&bill=1445 (retrieved 2/7/2015)

So, is that such a bad idea? There’s unlikely to be much other state funding for the World Languages Program Supervisor at this time. And, if a “dialogue” really happens, could it actually be an opportunity for legislators and key educators in the state to pay attention to World Languages for a change? Am I so confident that we are “right” (that is, world languages are not the same as computer languages), that I’d be willing to risk setting the stage for that dialogue? And suppose people end up agreeing with me?

This bill is all about college admissions because Washington does not have a high school graduation requirement for world languages. When the state updated the high school graduation requirements a few years ago to 24 credits, 2 credits of world languages were included in the “Career and College Ready Graduation Requirements” that go into effect in 2017, but they are considered “[f]lexible requirements… [that] may be substituted according to a student’s High School and Beyond Plan.” http://www.k12.wa.us/GraduationRequirements/Requirement-Credits.aspx (retrieved 2/7/2015) In other words, students will already be able to substitute computer programming for world languages in order to meet high school graduation requirements in our state.

If HB 1445 required the state to have a “dialogue” about whether world languages are really the equivalent of computer programming languages for the purposes of college admissions, maybe, just maybe we could have that dialogue about high school graduation requirements, as well.

Maybe this bill is a good idea after all…

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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WAFLT Spring Regionals 2015

The Washington Association for Language Teaching (WAFLT) is very pleased to announce that there will be more than one spring regional conference this year! This goes back to the original concept of having regional one-day conferences that were easily accessible to people in more than one part of the state. We now have confirmed dates for all three spring regionals. March 21, 2015 is the regional conference at Cheney High School in Cheney (near Spokane). Contact Rachel Martin (tiraromartin@aol.com) for more details. A westside spring regional will also take place March 21, 2015 at Mount Vernon High School. Contact Catherine Ousselin (catherineku72@gmail.com) for information. The third conference is April 4, 2015 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Contact Alejandro Lee (leealejandro@gmail.com) for more details. Registration coming soon at http://www.waflt.net/conferences.html.

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