Over 60% of children from birth to age 5 in the state of California are dual language learners (DLLs). While the field has advanced considerably in understanding dual language development and education, much work still needs to be done to identify the best practices that support young DLLs in early learning and care settings.
The First 5 California-funded Dual Language Learner Pilot Study seeks to identify the range and distribution of learning experiences for DLLs in California and to better understand how these experiences are linked to positive child and family outcomes. Specific goals of this study are to:
- Determine what are effective and feasible practices for DLLs in early learning and care settings, across three content areas: instructional practices, professional development, and family engagement.
- Disseminate findings about best practices to relevant stakeholders and practitioners.
The Landscape of Early Learning and Care Programs Serving Dual Language Learners in California, the most recent publication from the study, presents initial findings from a survey of a representative sample of early learning and care programs across the state. It provides a descriptive snapshot of programs serving DLLs across all types of early learning and care settings, including both center-based and family child care homes. The publication also discusses approaches used to serve DLLs and the challenges of serving diverse populations, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.
An earlier research brief, The Early Learning and Care Context for Dual Language Learners in California, summarizes the perspectives of county-level leaders on the context, challenges, and guidance for DLL caregivers in their counties, which in turn impact practices in the classroom. This brief also offers examples of successful practices to support DLLs in their communities and concludes with implications and next steps for the study.
Initial findings from the study indicate that overall beliefs about bilingualism and policies in place to support DLLs are shifting in a direction that promotes the development of young DLLs’ bilingualism. However, there are still systemic challenges that limit implementation of high-quality instruction for DLLs.