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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz recognizing a student’s proficiency in one or more world languages in addition to English was signed into law yesterday by the governor.

S3279 establishes a State Seal of Biliteracy which would be attached to a graduating student’s high school transcript who attained proficiency in one or more foreign languages in addition to English. A certificate, prepared by the Commissioner of Education, will also be awarded to the student.

“As a career educator I recognize the great benefit to students of mastering more than one language. This is a skill that will not only help them to expand their understanding of other world regions, but will also help to provide them additional career opportunities in the future,” said Senator Turner (D- Hunterdon/Mercer). “This law will not only give bilingual students the acknowledgement and recognition they deserve, but it will also encourage other students to learn different languages and explore different cultures.”

A foreign language other than English could also include Latin, American Sign Language, and Native American languages.

“While this new law creates a designation that will recognize the achievements of students who have excelled in multiple languages, we hope it will also inspire more young people to study additional languages,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “By becoming proficient in multiple languages, students are able to increase the opportunities available to them both academically and in the workforce. In addition, the study of multiple languages provides other benefits, including contributing to a student’s cognitive development.”

Currently 12 states and the District of Columbia have enacted the Seal of Biliteracy through legislation. These include: Washington; California; Nevada; New Mexico; Texas; Minnesota; Illinois; Indiana; New York; Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Eleven more states are in the early stages of establishing or considering the Seal.

The law goes into effect beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

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