Santa Cruz COE Launches Language Ambassadors Program

The Santa Cruz COE Curriculum and Instruction Department is launching a new program to promote and celebrate multilingualism. The value of multilingualism in our global economy and multicultural society is widely recognized. Multilingual individuals have an additional skill to offer employers and their communities. Research on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism also continue to accumulate.

smiling student with art in backgroundThe Language Ambassadors program will recognize students in elementary and middle school who are actively engaged in learning more than one language. Language Ambassadors will register through their local schools and complete a variety of activities in their “target language” to demonstrate their commitment to developing skills in that language. Because all students are already learning English at school, the program focuses on promoting the learning and development of additional languages. The activities can be completed in a variety of contexts including the home, school and community. For example, students might attend a performance in their target language, or they might request assistance in a local business using the language. Other examples include creating a personal multilingual dictionary or writing a book or creating a video.

The Language Ambassadors program recognizes multilingualism as an asset for all children. The award can be earned by children from English speaking families who want to learn an additional language as well as by children whose families already speak a language other than English. It provides tangible recognition for the efforts that students, families and schools make to learn, use and develop multiple languages. Jackie Medina, principal of Starlight Elementary School in Pajaro Valley Unified School District, says, “The Language Ambassador award is important because it validates and celebrates the linguistic talents of our students.”

Although the program is designed to promote the attitudes toward language learning and to engage students in activities that build the language skills needed to earn the State Seal of Biliteracy, awarded at the end of high school, there is no test of language proficiency associated with the Language Ambassadors program.

The Language Ambassadors program expands the COE’s current student academic enrichment opportunities, designed to recognize student achievements in a variety of subject areas: Spelling Bee, Math Contest, Science and Engineering Fair, Student Authors’ Fair. For more information about any of these opportunities, please contact the Santa Cruz COE Curriculum and Instruction Department. For more information on Language Ambassadors and how to get involved, please contact Sofia Sorensen.