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The Foothill Dragon Press

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The Foothill Dragon Press

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Bridging cultures: The impact of the California State Seal of Biliteracy

Karli Riehle
For students aiming to be officially recognized as bilingual or multilingual, the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) Multilingual Seal is available for application for graduating seniors until March 1, 2024. While taking at least two years of a language other than English is an A-G requirement for the University of California and California State Universities, it is also important to be able to connect to others within other cultures. Speaking another language opens up a wide variety of opportunities within a plethora of industries where being fluently multilingual is valuable and can place you above another candidate. It is also possible to receive more than one seal, for each language the student applies for.

Every year, high school seniors across the state of California are provided with the opportunity to apply for the State Seal of Biliteracy, and more locally, the Multilingual Seal in Ventura Unified School District (VUSD). Whether someone is a native speaker or new to a language, students from different backgrounds can strive for the seal to potentially benefit their future, and connect with the culture surrounding their language of choice. 

For students to officially earn the State Seal of Biliteracy, they are required to exhibit proficiency in English and one or more languages. California then recognizes students who are able to meet the standard of writing, speaking and reading in multiple languages, and rewards them with this seal, which will be attached to their diploma at graduation as well as added to their transcript.

I feel like there’s a wider range of people that we could help with the Bilingual Seal.

— Megan Graves ‘24

High schoolers in the state have different roads to bilingualism, but all need four years of Foreign Language credits to qualify for the seal, or an equivalent. Sarah O’Neil ‘24 said, “I really enjoyed having the long process of the multiple years of learning … and being able to look back and see my progress is incredible.” 

According to the California State Seal of Biliteracy Legislature, one of the purposes of the State Seal is to provide future employers with a method of identifying potential hires with a proficiency in multiple languages. This is one reason students take the time to learn another language, so that they may have a multitude of opportunities when it comes down to their profession of choice.

There are other appeals to the seal, such as the two year Foreign Language requirement to complete A-G. Otherwise, students may not qualify as applicants to state schools in California, and may not graduate at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech).

In Ventura County, 44.5% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, making Spanish a prominent language in the area. For non-native speakers, the Bilingual Seal creates a bridge within the community, making the experience on the end of both parties easier. It also makes a more comfortable environment within the community, as people now know that they are able to be helped properly within a professional space. 

Along with helping a student find themselves in their future, it can also be very impactful towards their lives currently. It’s very common for families to have a language barrier at home and within their community, and the journey to biliteracy often provides a pathway to be able to connect with family.

Niko Zhavz ‘27 said, “My grandmother is a full time Spanish speaker … and she says that it’d be nice to talk to someone in the household who speaks Spanish.” 

One of the bigger ideas that the State Seal introduces is a student’s dedication to not only a language, but its accompanying culture. Spanish teacher Alberto Ortiz said, “Being multilingual, it shows that you have provided or have given yourself an opportunity to learn another language to showcase and be invested in another culture.” 

[The State Seal] doesn’t necessarily mean that it just shows proficiency in the language, it shows way more than that.

— Alberto Ortiz

He added, “I think having [the State Seal] in the diploma shows that you have been a student who has not just been doing all the things that you have been doing for college, but it shows what makes you different.” 

Foothill Tech provides students with the resources to earn the State Seal, but only through one language, as Foothill Tech only has classes for those who wish to learn Spanish.

The application for the seal closes on March 1, 2o24 at 11:59 p.m. Students at Foothill Tech, new and old, continue through the journey which is learning another language, and take it out into the world, at their jobs or within their homes, each making a distinct impact whichever way they choose. 

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About the Contributors
Bailey Basurto
Bailey Basurto, Reporter
"You can't blame yourself, you just have to blame Mercury, cause it's just hella in retrograde." - Taylor Swift
Karli Riehle
Karli Riehle, Illustrator
A first-year illustrator, obsessed with dragons and doodling.

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