In California, nearly 60% of children from birth to age five are Dual Language Learners, meaning they are learning both English and another language at the same time. This is a major asset for the Golden State. However, ensuring that California’s Early Learning system is able to support multilingualism requires building awareness, building capacity, and making investments in the program and workforce that serve our diverse youngsters.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a consensus study, “Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures.” (Also see report highlights) that can aid in these efforts. The Promising Futures report evaluates research on the development of Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and English Learners (ELs) from birth to age 21, and makes recommendations on policy, practice, and research and data collection to better support and educate DLLs/ELS from birth to grade 12.
In addition, the report includes recommendations specific to early childhood. Chapter 4: Capacities and Influences on Language Development reviews the evidence on young children’s underlying capacity for dual language development and examines the factors that may influence the full expression of this capacity among DLLs in the United States. Chapter 5: Promising and Effective Early Care and Education Practices and Home Visiting Programs for Dual Language Learners, reviews relevant research on guiding principles, programs, practices, and strategies that promote positive developmental and educational outcomes for DLLs in home visiting programs and Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings and provides relevant research on features of high-quality ECE for infants and toddlers generally, combined with the developmental literature on DLLs reviewed in earlier chapters, to arrive at findings and conclusions about effective practices for the youngest DLLs.
On May 31, 2017, GPG facilitated a well-received Webinar: From Research to Policy: Evidence-Informed Opportunities for Advancing the Needs of Young Dual Language Learners in California Education Policy. Funded through the generous support of the Heising-Simons Foundation and Sobrato Family Foundation, the webinar reviewed essential elements of the report and examined the ways in with the report can be incorporated in advocacy work in California. The webinar featured presentations from the following experts on Dual Language Development and early learning advocacy:
- Anya Hurwitz, Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) Deputy Director;
- Deborah Kong, Early Edge California;
- Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri, Columbia (emeritus); and
- Vickie Ramos Harris, Advancement Project.
A recording of the webinar is available at the following link: https://vimeo.com//220703869.