Early Education for Dual Language Learners: Promoting School Readiness and Early School Success
This report profiles the population of young Dual Language Learners (DLLs), who represent nearly one-third of all U.S. children under age 6, outlining their school readiness and patterns of achievement. The report evaluates the research on early care and education approaches that have been shown to support higher levels of language and literacy development and achievement for this child population, most but not all of whom are children of immigrants.
The report highlights the varied outcomes among DLLs across children from different national origins and socioeconomic groups. For example, DLLs from Spanish-speaking households enter kindergarten with substantially lower literacy skills than those of children from English-speaking households, and the gap between the two groups improves only slightly by the end of third grade. In particular, children from Mexican immigrant families score significantly below national norms.
Given these achievement patterns, the report evaluates the research on early care and education approaches that have been shown to support higher levels of language and literacy development for young DLLs. The instructional features of high-quality programs that have been shown to improve school readiness among this population include responsive language interactions in English as well as the students’ home languages, opportunities for children to learn and practice new skills and vocabulary, frequent assessment, and parental engagement. The report emphasizes that these goals are common-sense and attainable, arguing that while all teachers cannot teach in all languages, they can support all languages by learning strategies to systematically introduce English during the preschool years while simultaneously promoting home language maintenance.
II. A Profile of Dual Language Learners
B. The Role of Parental Language Proficiency
C. The Role of Socioeconomic Status and Other Factors
III. Achievement Patterns among Dual Language Learners
IV. Benefits of Early Care and Education Programs
V. Elements of a High-Quality Early Childhood Education for Dual Language Learners
A. Program Access
B. Language of Instruction
C. Instructional Practices
E. Teacher Quality and School-Family Partnerships
F. Classroom Quality
VI. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations