Pencils down, phones out: Minnesota high school students to use MN-made app for bilingual exam
Extempore, a speaking practice app for language education, will be used by Minnesota students seeking Bilingual Seals.
March 18, 2021
MINNEAPOLIS — March 17, 2021 – Bilingual students across Minnesota are putting down their pencils and picking up their phones and devices for a language proficiency exam that helps determine their collegiate path. Extempore, a Minneapolis-based speaking and listening program for language learners, announced today it will be used to test student proficiency in languages other than English schools and districts in Minnesota. High school students who pass the exam are awarded the Minnesota Bilingual or Multilingual Seal, a distinction that can impact college credit and course requirements. The assessment covers all four modalities of language learning – listening, reading, speaking and writing – and provides greater flexibility for school districts to offer the exam and in-person learning environments. Statewide access to the app is made possible through a new partnership between Extempore and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
Under the Minnesota Bilingual Seals Program, students are assessed once per year to determine language proficiency and are awarded Bilingual or Multilingual Seal upon graduation. For Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, this assessment can help students earn college credits. Seals can be awarded for languages taught in schools and languages spoken at home, including American Sign Language (ASL) and American Indian languages. Under this partnership, Extempore will offer language assessments in the following languages: Amharic, Dakota, Hmong, Karen, Ojibwe, Oromo, Somali, Tamil, and Vietnamese.
Combining language education and technology, Extempore is a platform used by language teachers for speaking practice. The app allows students to complete speaking and listening assignments on a computer or mobile device. Teachers can then easily review and provide feedback on assignments directly through the app. Applying this same technology, language proficiency assessments provided by Extempore will include the required speaking and listening sections of a traditional proficiency exam.
“Achieving a Bilingual or Multilingual Seal is a testament to the dedication that students, families and educators have demonstrated toward development of multilingualism, multiliteracy, and cultural competency,” said MDE Assistant Commissioner Bobbie Burnham. “These skills provide immense value for professional, social and individual growth. We are pleased to partner with Extempore to help our educators and schools efficiently and equitably deliver the Minnesota bilingual seals assessments.”
The Extempore platform has surged in popularity as a resource for educators during virtual and hybrid learning over the past year. It has also been a game-changer for students who aren’t as comfortable practicing their speaking in the classroom. This is the company’s first assessment partnership with MDE.
"As a Minnesota transplant and the father of two trilingual children who will eventually take the Seal of Biliteracy exam, this represents a very special partnership for me," said Carlos Seoane, co-founder and CEO of Extempore. "The State of Minnesota is taking a big step toward advancing multilingualism among Minnesota students. We are thrilled to help make this process more seamless and reliable.”
Extempore is a Minneapolis-based technology company founded in 2016. Frustrated by the lack of speaking time for students outside of class and the hassle of scheduling one-on-one assessments, the founding team created Extempore to help language students get extra speaking practice in their target language. Now available via web browser or as a mobile application, Extempore offers language instructors of all levels a platform to create assessments in all four modes of communication, personalize student feedback and measure student progress. Used by hundreds of thousands of language teachers and students worldwide, Extempore helps language learners reach their proficiency goals. Learn more at extemporeapp.com.