Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. These are the 11 languages CPS students mastered to earn this year’s State Seal of Biliteracy.

The Seal signifies that these students have mastered the speaking, reading and writing of one or more of these languages – an accomplishment celebrated this week, when families, educators, and community partners gathered to recognize the second class of CPS students to earn the Seal.Biliteracy-UIC-6165

In 2015 – the first year of this program – CPS presented 92 students from 12 high schools with the Seal of Biliteracy. This year, over 900 graduates, half of them English learners, earned this distinction – a huge step toward our goal of graduating 25 percent of seniors with the Seal by 2020.

Biliteracy gives students a competitive edge in college and career. It opens up doors they might never have been able to walk through without these language skills, and is a sign to colleges and employers that students have the intelligence and tenacity to do great things.

In this global age, language skills are as important as technology, writing, or any other core subject. More than 100,000 CPS students are currently enrolled in world language programs, and we are excited to announce an expansion of those opportunities in five schools. Beginning in the 2017-2018 School Year, students at Azuela, Hurley, Moos, Mozart, and Spry elementary schools will experience all the benefits of dual-language programming.

Biliteracy-UIC-4965But our focus on language isn’t just about academics. It’s about celebrating the culture and heritage of our students, who speak more than 130 languages. We embrace this diversity in our bilingual and dual-language programs, making sure children know that speaking more than one language is something to be celebrated.

We congratulate this year’s Seal recipients and look forward to seeing how biliteracy will help shape their future success.