Language of the Classroom: Dual Language Learners in Head Start, Public Pre-K, and Private Preschool Programs

Report Author: 
Megina Baker & Mariela Páez
Original Date of Publication: 
March, 2018

This report is one in a series of three reports produced by MPI examining the implications of "superdiverse" communities for early childhood education and care programs and systems. As of 2013, more than one in three children in the U.S. spoke a language other than English at home. Increasing levels of linguistic and cultural diversity among students in early childhood education and care (ECEC) require educators, even if they are not fluent in the home languages of their students, to know when and how to use home languages to facilitate English acquisition and promote appreciation of diversity. This report identifies best practices for promoting the learning and development of Dual Language Learner (DLL) students in linguistically diverse ECEC programs. The authors studied public, private and Head Start preschool programs in Boston, MA, where nearly half of four-year-olds were DLL children in 2014. Through interviews, surveys, focus groups with school personnel and parents and classroom observation, the authors found that teachers incorporated home languages into instruction in a variety of ways, including inviting family members into the classroom to read stories in the home language, using greeting routines in multiple languages, allowing other children to share their home language expertise, and using other staff members with bilingual expertise. The authors recommend training and professional development opportunities for educators to utilize home languages in creative ways in ECEC settings, and developing national and state policies that explicitly support this educational approach. (Sam Jones for The Immigrant Learning Center's Public Education Institute)

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Citation: 

Baker, M., & Paez, M. (2018). The Language of the Classroom: Dual Language Learners in Head Start, Public Pre-K, and Private Preschool Programs (Report) (p. 31). Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/language-classroom-dual-language-learners-head-start-public-pre-k-and-private-preschool

Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute
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