Introduction Why I Wrote This Book
In this book, I share with you both research evidence and personal
insights. I propose a thoughtful, commonsense approach to help young
children learn English, maintain their home language, and develop the
early literacy skills necessary for school readiness and success.
Teaching language to help young children become bilingual and bi-
literate is a challenging task. Educators must bridge school literacy and
home language while encouraging parents to use their home language.
They must use concrete techniques designed for teaching dual-language
learners and supporting their families. Intentionality is critical. A hope-
ful but haphazard approach often frustrates and disappoints students
and families as well as educators.
When I present workshops for educators, I ask them to tell me why
they have come. Their responses boil down to two basic questions:
1. What are the best ways to teach children who are dual-language
learners? 2. What are the best ways to communicate with and support the
families of dual-language learners?
The Term Dual-Language Learner
I use the term dual-language learner rather
than the familiar terms English-language
learner (ELL) or limited English proficiency
(LEP). I believe dual-language learner is the
right word to describe a child who is learn-
ing both English and a home language. It
respects the importance of both languages.
English is the practical language needed to
succeed in school and the wider world. The
home language is the emotional language
needed for maintaining family relationships,
values, and traditions.
I hope to answer these key questions in
this book. As you read, you will probably
confirm things you already know. You
will also learn some new ideas. I hope
you will reflect on your current work and
decide how to connect what you know
with what you do. Together, you and I can
improve the education of young children
who are dual-language learners!
Focus and Philosophy
In this book, I address educators in mul-
tilingual early childhood classrooms
who teach in English and support home
languages intentionally. I take into account the challenge of supporting
home languages without staff who speak these languages or media pro-
duced in them. I describe simple techniques you can use to foster dual-
language learning, regardless of your resources.