RUSD seniors express their feelings on achieving the Seal of Biliteracy
By NYLA JAFRI and GAEL PEREZ
Language is one of the most important skills for humans since it allows for communication, understanding and further advancement of the population as a whole. It is important to learn other languages and methods of communication because it helps explain other cultures and connect the world to a deeper extent.
The acquisition of another language is a long and tedious process, but some students in the Redlands Unified School District have gained this valuable asset even to the level of being acknowledged by the state.
According to MaryRone Shell’s May 21 announcement on the RUSD webpage and Facebook page, “During tonight’s Board of Education Meeting, 167 graduating seniors across the Redlands Unified School District received the California State Seal of Biliteracy. These students attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.”
The California Department of Education defines the Seal of Biliteracy in California as it recognizes “high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. The SSB will be awarded by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in accordance with specified criteria set forth in the legislation.”
La Plaza writer Gael Perez asked some Citrus Valley seniors how they felt about receiving the honor while Nyla Jafri covered the Redlands East Valley side.
How Did Earning the Seal of Biliteracy Affect Your Perspective (if at all)?
- “Earning the seal showed me that my hard work paid off. Being a non-native speaker and not having my parents have any knowledge of Spanish, the seal symbolized that I had the power and drive to change my own future which is empowering.” – Kaylee Reyes, Citrus Valley
What Was the Most Important Aspect For You in Earning the Seal of Biliteracy?
- “The knowledge that speaking a second language was the most important to me. With Spanish being such a widespread language, knowing the language is very helpful in communicating with others, especially in the medical field where I plan to pursue a career.” – Gem Pulmano, Citrus Valley
- “I wanted to prove to myself that I could not only get through 4 years of [French] but that I could actually master it and speak it. I didn’t actually know you [could get] a seal until last year, so my primary motivation was learning the language and being able to use it.” – Carlos Leyva Cota, Redlands East Valley
How did Earning the Seal of Biliteracy Help Develop Fluency in a Second Language?
- “[Speaking] Spanish for four years helped me not only learn more vocabulary, but also with learning about culture and practices of Latinos. I feel much more confident in speaking the language and am still striving to improve my skills throughout my daily life and hopefully study abroad to further develop my fluency.” – Kaela Evans, Citrus Valley
- “Latin is a really unique language because it’s no longer spoken! The majority of our focus my final year was actually in translating long ancient texts. Noticing the surprising similarities between Caesar’s world and today and analyzing the poetic brilliance of Virgil definitely helped develop both my writing skills and my appreciation for society’s history.” – Nga Nguyen, Redlands East Valley
How Do You Feel About Earning the Seal of Biliteracy?
- “Earning my seal was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life. Coming from an interracial family, it seemed up in the air as to whether or not I’d learn to speak it as one side did and the other side of my family did not. Earning my seal was almost like a “you finally made it” accomplishment after working so hard at a second language. My seal symbolizes not only my proficiency in another language, but something that has given me a stronger connection to my family and culture.” – Anika Kisling, Citrus Valley
- “I am really happy to be recognized for it. English being my second language, I understand that lots of expression are lost in translation and so I feel that each one of those expressions is a thought or a feeling or a joke that I am missing out on. I also am happy to know that I can speak French fluently and that I can explore these expressions [too].” – David Mikhail Makram, Redlands East Valley
What Advice Do You Have for Others Learning a Second Language?
- “Don’t give up, just set small goals for yourself. While at first it may seem like you are getting nowhere, you will get better. Don’t compare yourself to others, especially native speakers who have been exposed to the language their whole life.” – Ashley Saldana, Citrus Valley
- “The best thing when I’m learning a language is to find media in that specific language that is super interesting whether that’s music, television or YouTube videos. Stay passionate about the language in that way, or you’ll lose the drive to continue learning it!” – Shana Tadha, Redlands East Valley
How Do You Envision Using Biliteracy In Your Future?
- “I envision traveling to foreign countries in Latin America and Asia to utilize the respective languages in their native atmospheres. I hope to communicate well with others in their native languages and to learn more about various cultures and traditions at their origins.” – Yvonne Hoque, Citrus Valley
- “Biliteracy is an important part of my job right now, and I don’t expect anything less for my future. I love being able to surpass the language barrier, and it even surprises some when I am able to help them in Spanish, so I really hope that this continues in the future.” – Aleena Siritanapivat, Redlands East Valley