Culture and Language

Home Language Support

Children who speak home languages other than English make up at least one third of Head Start enrollment. They speak more than 140 languages and are enrolled in 87 percent of all Head Start programs. All Head Start staff, and policy makers will want to understand what these young dual language learners (DLLs) need in order to thrive in Head Start and beyond. They will also want to know how to support DLL’s development and school readiness skills.

Research shows that young DLLs are more successful in school and later in life when they develop strong language and literacy skills in both their home language and English. It also shows that becoming bilingual or multilingual has many benefits. The Office of Head Start Multicultural Principle 6 is based on these findings:

Effective programs for children who speak languages other than English require continued development of the first language while the acquisition of English is facilitated.

The multimedia materials below can help programs to identify DLLs. The materials also explain how knowledge and concepts learned in the home language transfer to English and what issues families of DLLs face. Discover basic strategies families and teachers can use to support home language development.