The Harbinger Online

Bi-literacy Program Rewards Students for Learning a Foreign Language

Following the installation of a biliteracy certificate program last year, East world language students have earned 44 of the 80 certificates awarded to the District as a whole. The program was instituted by the the Kansas Board of Education in the spring of 2017. The certificate acknowledges those who achieve a “proficiency in English and one or more other world language” by the time of graduation.

Prior to the biliteracy certificate, there was no recognition of those few students who reached the highest levels of a world language. Losey believes that students who partake in an elective as challenging as a foreign language should have something to show for it.

“It’s not an easy subject, yet we are an elective that is probably one of the most academic electives that there is,” Losey said. “So for me and for Doug, we thought this would be one way that we could get out recognized for their hard work. Not only in their language of English, but also in the world language that they are studying.”

Laure Losey, who is the head of the world language department at East, worked alongside the SM Northwest world language department coordinator Douglas Murphy to bring this program to the District.

Losey and Murphy were unable to bring the program to the district alone, and called on East principal Dr. John McKinney and District assessment administrator Dan Gruman to implement the program.

“[Murphy] contacted [Gruman] and I asked Dr. McKinney if he could help and he said, ‘Yes I’m going to do everything I can to help you,’ and he was able to knock down some doors that I couldn’t knock down myself,” Losey said.

Losey believes that Shawnee Mission should show commitment to world language by honoring the students, since it is the only public school system in the area to offer French and Spanish for six years. The certificate recognizes Latin and German as well as French and Spanish. The sixth year of exposure to French and Spanish not only provides more study of the language but learning about the culture and customs that each respective language has.

Losey and Murphy hope to best prepare students for possible use of the language in future jobs or travel. While most students won’t use their language in their profession after high school or college, Losey thinks that after six years of study students are ready to “survive” if they go abroad.

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