Hartwick Launches New “Global Seal of Biliteracy” Micro-credential

Whether Hartwick students learned to speak a second language at home, in the classroom, or on an app, Karina Walker, assistant professor of Spanish and coordinator of Women and Gender Studies, wants to make sure they get the credit they deserve.

“The Global Seal of Biliteracy is a micro-credential that lets us show students that we appreciate and recognize their educational, cultural, and linguistic background,” she said. “We want to help students and employers recognize that their languages are valuable.”

The K-12 Seal of Biliteracy was developed in 2008 in California by Californians Together, a coalition of education, civil rights, parent/caregiver, community, and advocacy organizations. The seal has since been implemented in school districts across the country. The Global Seal of Biliteracy is a credential that can be earned after high school and complements the state Seal of Biliteracy.

Walker learned about both at the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages held in March 2023, brought it back to Hartwick as a Modern Languages Department initiative, and began implementing soon after.

The first assessment, given by Avant Assessment, a national language proficiency testing service, is underway for current students. “It’s a tool for students and faculty,” she said. “We can look at the assessment and figure out where they’re proficient and what areas they need to work on.”

Going forward, Walker says, students can take the assessment at the end of every semester, allowing them to note their progress in speaking, reading, writing and understanding their language.

“When we get that feedback, we help them find opportunities to improve their proficiency,” she said. “It allows faculty to provide more individualized instruction. If a student needs to improve their speaking, we’ll see if we can’t get them to study abroad, take a directed study or attend one of our coffee clubs – a ‘cafecito’ – for conversation.”

The first assessments in French and Spanish were given during finals week. “I think I did pretty well,” said Madilynne Smith ‘25, a history and Spanish major. “I’m usually better at speaking than listening, but I think this time, the listening went better!”

Those results will tell her what she needs to focus on to prepare for her “Arts and Cultures of Spain” J Term experience and internship next year.

And starting this fall, incoming students from a high school that offers the Seal of Biliteracy to K-12 will receive up to 12 credits for language study.

“I took the test in high school and got the Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish. Now I’m taking the assessment for my Global Seal of Biliteracy. Not only will it look great on my resume, but speaking Spanish is so important in the healthcare setting.”

Allison Villalobos '24

Nursing Major and John Christopher Hartwick Scholar

Hartwick currently offers French and Spanish assessments. This fall, the College will also provide Russian, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish and Portuguese assessments. Anyone who speaks or studies a language can take the assessment and receive the credential.

For more information, contact Karina Walker at walkerk3@hartwick.edu.

May 18, 2023
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