The department of modern languages is rolling out a new program for students of Spanish and French: the seal of biliteracy.
“We’re rewarding people for what they can do,” said Grant Moss, associate professor of Spanish at Pittsburg State University.
The faculty of the department of modern languages, based in Grubbs Hall, pushed for the biliteracy program in an effort to provide a pathway toward earning degrees, both major and minor, in French or Spanish.
The modern languages department has programs that have been previously in place for students to test out of would-be remedial courses. Students who pass can enroll in upper level French or Spanish classes and receive credit for the previous classes bypassed. The Seal of Biliteracy program has a similar function.
“A gold seal means they communicate at an intermediate level,” Moss said. “Platinum level means they are advanced.”
After receiving the Seal of Biliteracy for French or Spanish from their high school, freshmen can enroll in the appropriate upper-most language course. After students pass these classes they gain credit for all previous coursework, similar to the department of modern languages’ other programs.
Upon completion of the Seal of Biliteracy, students only have to enroll in and pass three additional classes to complete a minor in Spanish or French. To complete a major in Spanish or French, students only need to enroll in and pass six additional classes.
Moss and his colleagues created this program as a helpful initiative to majors of all kinds. Spanish and French are becoming increasingly useful in a variety of fields. The medical and psychology fields employ interpreters or translators to create records in multiple languages; courtrooms and police stations use bilingual professionals to provide efficient communication between the law and citizens who may only speak a non-English language, or whose first language is not English; the education field is introducing subjects in English along with Spanish and French more frequently.
Students who earn the Seal of Biliteracy will also have the ability to place the accomplishment on their résumés in order to become more marketable. Additionally, this initiative incentivizes students who take advantage of Pitt State’s flat-rate tuition to earn a double major/minor/etc. for the exact same price as a single major. These dual major programs allow for more varied career options to Pitt State graduates.
The Seal of Biliteracy serves to attract potential Gorillas to Pittsburg State during a recent downturn of enrollment. The classes of 2013 and 2014 provided record PSU enrollment and since then enrollment has seen fluctuation, so with that the Seal of Biliteracy program aims to increase enrollment headcount back to more positive numbers.
Faculty and staff involved are confident that programs such as the Seal of Biliteracy and other recruitment efforts recently put in place are working to achieve the goals of increased enrollment and a more improved experience for all PSU students.