Teachers, Caregivers, and Family Service Staff Support Children Who Are Dual Language Learners

Home language support is the foundation for developing English language skills. Today’s early childhood staff must be prepared to enhance experiences for a growing number of young children who are learning their home languages and English. We can promote positive experiences for these children by holding high expectations and emphasizing their strengths, including cultural and linguistic strengths. We also provide children and their families with the individualized learning supports necessary to succeed in school. All early childhood program staff want to understand what young dual language learners (DLLs) need in order to thrive in Head Start and beyond. These DLL Toolkit resources give teachers, caregivers, and family services staff support to foster the learning and development of young children.

Code Switching: Why It Matters and How to Respond

One-third of the children in Head Start and Early Head Start are dual language learners (DLLs) who are learning English while also learning their home language. Virtually all of these children will code switch. In other words, they mix two or more languages in the same sentence while speaking. It is important that teachers, home visitors, and other staff understand what code switching is, the role it plays in language development, and how to respond to it.

Highlights for Teaching Children Who Are Dual Language Learners (DLLs)

This resource highlights strategies discussed in the Head Start Science Teacher's Guide that teaching teams may use to help children learn their home language in addition to English. Teachers are encouraged to focus on language and literacy skills as integral to the exploration of science topics in the natural world. Specific suggestions from the Guide provide evidence-based practices that are effective for working with dual language learners in Head Start programs.