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The Gifts and Opportunities of Multilingualism, Perspectives from Avant

This is a featured guest blog post from Virtual Language Advocacy Days 2023 sponsor, Avant

Language is the essence of humanity. Without it we are alone. With it we connect and engage with our fellow humans. Speaking more than one language enables us to connect with even more of humanity and makes our experience richer. We can connect and communicate with more fellow human beings. We can expand our minds beyond the perspective that our own language binds us to - is society strictly hierarchical? In the Japanese language, yes, in English, not so much. Is the future distinct from the present? In English, yes, in Japanese, not really.

Multilingualism gives us many gifts including career opportunities that monolinguals cannot access. Speaking Japanese enabled me to have an exciting business career in Japan that I could never have had without it. Multilinguals are sought after and can earn higher salaries across all industries. Moreover, businesses value the soft skills that come with multilingual skills: the ability to communicate effectively in our multilingual societies, and the ability to see different perspectives in solving complex problems.

For heritage speakers, there is much more: community, family, pride, and self-respect. I can never forget witnessing the glow of pride on the faces of immigrant Korean parents when their daughter received the Global Seal of Biliteracy. She showed her parents that she was not only successful in the English world, but was connected with, and respected her parents’ Korean world. For indigenous language speakers, there is connection to a world that often has few cultural anchors left. Language can connect with culture and generate pride in a way that nothing else can.

Avant’s mission is, “to improve the learning and teaching of languages.” We started with assessment because it is foundational to all learning. Without knowing where you are in your learning journey, it is hard to know what to learn or teach. Our STAMP tests measure proficiency against global standards. Learners can earn college credit through STAMP’s certification for credit by the American Council of Education at a growing number of universities.

Avant has built a team of experts in language pedagogy to support teachers and administrators to become more effective in raising proficiency outcomes. Recently we launched MEDLI (More Effective Dual Language Immersion) to address the special needs of DLI programs, led by renowned DLI experts, Dawn Samples and Gregg Roberts.

Recognition of language skills is crucial for employment and education. The State Seal of Biliteracy movement has energized learners and teachers. Because state seals are unavailable to many, Avant established and supports the Global Seal of Biliteracy, providing free credentials to anyone, anywhere who can demonstrate their biliteracy through a test that has been approved by the Global Seal’s independent Board of Advisors – including STAMP and our competitors’ tests.

Finally, Avant actively supports heritage languages. We deliver tests in 45 languages, and charge the same price for a Somali, a Samoan, or a Spanish test. We believe that learners of all languages deserve to have a test that is accessible, affordable, and can provide a meaningful credential.

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