Each year the number of English Language Learners enrolled in preschool continues to climb. In the United States, nearly one third of preschoolers under the age of 5 enrolled in Head Start or Early Head Start programs live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. A new report, Dual Language Learners: Research Informing Policy, published by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute analyzes more than 200 studies to understand how ELL students learn best. The report includes insights, such as the five ways below, that can help early childhood educators, principals, policy makers, and other decision makers effectively reach and teach the growing ELL population.

5 ways to support the early literacy and language development of young ELL students

  1. Using the home language of young children, as well as English, can be pivotal for English Language Learners. The research shows that a young ELL’s home-language skills can decline if early childhood programs focus exclusively on English language and literacy development.
  2. Researchers found no negative social, linguistic, or cognitive consequences for young children who learn two languages simultaneously, but in fact, found the opposite to be true. So, when possible, incorporate both languages into the learning.
  3. Dual language learning happens within a social context at home and in the classroom. Early childhood teachers are uniquely suited to support linguistic, social, cognitive, and cultural growth, especially when the dual language learning happens within the daily routines and rituals of the school day.
  4. Parent involvement in early childhood education is key to connecting the classroom learning to the home environment.
  5. Recognize that young ELL students will take longer to reach proficiency in both languages than their monolingual peers.

“Young children really benefit when they are exposed to two languages, there is a good research base for that conclusion,” said Linda M. Espinosa in an interview about the report. “But children need to also be exposed to English in those early years.”

Use music to involve ELLs in early literacy and language development

ABC Music & Me uses music to teach early literacy and language development to English Language Learners and increase parent involvement in early childhood education. In addition to our “English Language Learners Strategies Guide” that provides unit-by-unit, lesson-by-lesson tips, ABC Music & Me includes materials in English and Spanish to support the common language spoken in the home and the way dual language learners best acquire early literacy and language development. Each child receives a monthly Student Kit with music from class and a Family Magazine (available in English and Spanish) filled with literacy activities.

For more information about ABC Music & Me, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

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