FAIRFIELD — Bridget Paulmann and Max Pfleghar, both 18-year-old high school seniors at Ludlowe, have been learning Spanish since elementary school.

On April 4, they, along with nearly 50 other Spanish students at Ludlowe, took the first half of the Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency Test, a way of earning the state’s Seal of Biliteracy on their high school diplomas and transcripts.

“I feel like (Eileen Frankel) has prepared us,” Paulmann said. “One of the things we were focusing on were all aspects of the test like speaking, writing, listening and reading. That helps you identify your own weaknesses and strengths.”

Frankel, the Advanced Placement Spanish teacher at Ludlowe for more than 10 years, has refocused the curriculum to encourage students to use their Spanish skills to engage with others, regardless of small or minor errors.

For Frankel, it’s more about expressing oneself rather than memorization.

“That’s one of the most important things,” said Frankel, who speaks Spanish with a Castilian accent. “To speak, speak, speak. You need to know how to use vocabulary and words.”

More Information

For FAQ on the Biliteracy Seal, visit: http://www.ctcolt.org/pdfs/SEALBiliteracyFAQs.pdf

For a list of tests eligible to qualify high school students for a Biliteracy Seal, visit page 5 on this PDF: http://www.ctcolt.org/pdfs/seal_of_biliteracy_guidelines.pdf

The Connecticut State Seal of Biliteracy, signed into law in June of 2017 by then-Gov. Dan Malloy, aims to recognize students’ academic and bilingual efforts and English learners for “developing English and maintaining their primary language.”

Students must fulfill two requirements for recognition: complete all English language studies for graduation and a minimum score on one of many different language examinations.

For the STAMP test, students must obtain an “Intermediate Mid” score to demonstrate their foreign language proficiency.

Pfleghar is considering engineering studies and the Coast Guard Academy. He said a family relative, also an engineer, engages with clients all over the world and that knowing another language would be a “huge factor.”

“(The Biliteracy Seal) is going to be a useful tool for juniors as they’re applying to school and it looks good on a college application,” Pfleghar said.

Paulmann is, for now, set on pursuing international economics and is “definitely” looking to study abroad while in college.

“Spanish is a necessity for that,” Paulmann said, referring to her prospective field of interest. “It’ll help me a lot.”

Though a score of 3 or higher on language AP exams are validated toward the biliteracy seal, exam scores will not be received until after graduation, Frankel said. That’s why students taking the STAMP test this week will be eligible to obtain the biliteracy mark once scores are received in approximately a month’s time.

“The AP test will feel pretty similar to STAMP,” said Paulmann, who is taking the AP exam in May. “This is definitely something that is a big deal and the structures are similar.”

Students enrolled in Italian, Latin, Mandarin Chinese and French will also be eligible to obtain biliteracy recognition.

humberto.juarez@hearstmediact.com