Texting Tagalog Leads to Language Proficiency for Alyssa Mae Legaspi

Chaparral High School student is one of a record-setting total of 164 students set to be honored for linguistic excellence at the 5th Annual Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy Awards Ceremony

5th Annual Seal of Multiliteracy Awards Photo Gallery

Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy logoRIVERSIDE – Most parents of technology-focused teenagers wouldn’t believe it, but for Alyssa Mae Legaspi, text messaging has helped her prepare for college and establish a foundation for her to achieve her career goals.

Now in its fifth year, the Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy is an award given by the Riverside County Office of Education, in partnership with districts, in recognition of high levels of attained proficiency in English and at least one other world language by high school graduation.

More than 160 high school students in Riverside County seeking to showcase their status as citizens of the world will be honored for their linguistic aptitude in English as well as American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, German, Indonesian, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino and Urdu. Students from nine districts will be honored for their multilingual proficiency at the Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy Awards Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at the Riverside Convention Center (3637 Fifth Street in Riverside, California).

Legaspi, a junior from Temecula Valley Unified School District, was already planning to apply for the Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy in Spanish—a language she has been studying for several years at Chaparral High School.

But, when fellow Chaparral student Joshua Basa earned the double Seal of Multiliteracy in 2016 for Spanish and his family’s language of Tagalog spoken in the Philippines, Alyssa Mae knew that her growing knowledge in Spanish and family tradition of Tagalog could lead down the same linguistic pathway with some focused language work over the coming year.

“There is an inevitable divide between being part of a culture versus learning how to be a part of a culture when it comes to language,” Alyssa Mae said.

Because Alyssa Mae’s knowledge of Tagalog was primarily heard and spoken with family members—as opposed to written or by reading—Alyssa Mae began to study the grammar and linguistic specifics of the language of the Philippines in a unique way.

“I felt a lot stronger in Spanish because I was studying it in school, but I had a lot of exposure to Tagalog through my large family and living in the Filipino culture,” Alyssa Mae said. “Along with studying the language specifically, I also made sure that whenever I was texting with family, I used Tagalog exclusively without abbreviations and they would correct me and help me learn the proper way to use the language.”

Alyssa Mae’s next goals include attending UC San Diego and becoming a neurosurgeon. She plans to major in neurobiology and minor in Spanish. Her desire is to go on medial relief missions to places in South America, where she can utilize her language skills as she exposes herself to real-world situations for her medical career.

“There is an entire continent that speaks this language almost exclusively and I want to immerse myself in it while doing something that is important to me,” Alyssa Mae said. “My family came to America for better opportunities for themselves and their children. This is a prime example of me, as a Filipino-American, using that opportunity of education and my abilities to do what I actually want to do with my life.”

With one year remaining at Chaparral High School, her mastery of world languages may include a return trip to the Seal of Multiliteracy certification process in 2018.

“I’m in the process of learning French right now. It’s a romance language like Spanish and there are quite a few similarities that I’m already recognizing.”

The Seal of Multiliteracy is intended to emphasize the value of knowing multiple languages, contribute to global understanding, encourage the learning of all languages, and connect with community efforts to teach languages and culture in schools and communities.

Students stand to benefit from the Seal of Multiliteracy by the presence of the seal on the transcripts of graduating seniors that not only verifies a high level of proficiency in a second language, but serves as another accomplishment to include in college applications. Additionally, the seal attests to a highly marketable skill that is sought-after by many employers.

The thorough certification process includes an application, writing samples, and an interview. Each applicant must receive a passing score in each application category in English and his/her additional identified world language. All juniors and seniors in public and private high schools in Riverside County are eligible to apply. Among the multiple eligibility requirements, a student must be on track to complete all English/Language Arts (ELA) requirements for graduation and maintain an overall grade-point average of 2.0 or above in ELA classes required for graduation.

Riverside County Seal of Multiliteracy by the Numbers

  • 21 – Number of students who earned the Seal of Multiliteracy in its first year (2013)
  • 164 – Number of students set to receive the Seal of Multiliteracy in 2017
  • 3 – Number of students who will be awarded twice for mastery of multiple languages
    • Alyssa Mae Legaspi, Chaparral HS, Temecula Valley USD – Spanish & Tagalog
    • Deena Massis Al Rabadi, Tahquitz HS, Hemet USD – Arabic & Spanish
    • Nicolo Antonio Villasis, Great Oak HS, Temecula Valley USD – Spanish & Tagalog
  • 8 – Number of languages in which students will be recognized for proficiency:
    (American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, German, Indonesian, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino and Urdu)
  • 17 – Number of Riverside County high schools with students who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy
  • 9 – Number of districts in Riverside County with students who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy (Banning USD, Beaumont USD, Coachella Valley USD, Hemet USD, Lake Elsinore USD, Moreno Valley USD, San Jacinto USD, Temecula Valley USD, and
    Val Verde USD)
  • 68 – Number of students from Moreno Valley USD who will receive the Seal of Multiliteracy (most students of any district in Riverside County)
  • 149 – Number of students whose world language of proficiency is Spanish