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ERIC Number: ED512635
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 51
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 88
Dual Language Learners in the Early Years: Getting Ready to Succeed in School
Ballantyne, Keira Gebbie; Sanderman, Alicia R.; McLaughlin, Nicole
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs
A major challenge facing the prekindergarten-12 education system in the United States is the fact that as the population changes, the particular needs of children change with it. One of the largest demographic shifts over the last ten years is the sharp increase in the number of students in public schools who speak English as their second language (NCELA, 2007a). The majority of these children are born in the United States and thus from a very young age are acquiring both the language of their family as well as the language of the larger community. These very young children are dual language learners (DLLs). There is an achievement gap between DLLs and monolingual English speaking children, even after these children have spent five or six years in U.S. schools. These children are also more likely than other learners to come from low-income communities. These learners, therefore, may not have had access to the early experiences which optimally prepare children for learning in school. They thus require that teachers provide support and instruction in the early school years which is responsive to their particular needs. Dual language learners also require assessment tools that are appropriate and sensitive to their needs. Attaining accurate assessments of young children who are learning two languages is enormously complex, and assessment measures must be sensitive to both maturational processes as well as the trajectory of second language acquisition. In this report, the authors' focus is on ways in which communities and educators can create conditions from which young children emerge ready to learn. Their focus is primarily on prekindergarteners and kindergarteners--that is, 3-6 year old children. The authors recommend multiple ongoing assessment measures which can be used to target instruction to the particular needs of individual children. In order to ensure that linguistic minority children are afforded the best possible start in life, policymakers and education decision makers need to inform themselves about the particular circumstances and requirements of this group of children. They furthermore need access to accurate data so that they can work to create optimal conditions which result in children who are ready to learn in school. Examples of English Language Development Standards in the PreKindergarten Year is appended. (Contains 15 footnotes.)
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Program. George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, 2121 K Street NW Suite 260, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-321-6223; Tel: 202-467-0867; Fax: 800-531-9347; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Kindergarten; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (ED)
Authoring Institution: National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA)