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How Monolingual Teachers Can Support Young Dual-Language Learners

There's an accruing pile of evidence that teaching in English and a child's home language in the preschool and early elementary years is best for young dual-language learners, both for academic achievement and for English proficiency later in their school careers.

But consider that dual-language learners now represent nearly one-third of all children under the age of 6 in the United States. And consider that the vast ranks of early-childhood teachers are monolingual English speakers.

What can be done about that mismatch between demand and supply?

A new report from early-childhood and dual-language expert Linda Espinosa tackles that challenge head on with a slew of practices that any teacher can use to support the development of students' home languages and English. The report—published by the Migration Policy Institute—also profiles the young dual-language-learner population in the United States, many of whom are the children of at least one immigrant parent.

Espinosa outlines a number of teaching practices that monolingual educators can use. Among them:

• Using parents and community volunteers who speak the home languages in their classrooms;

• Providing books and materials in the home languages;

• Working with parents so that they can build concept knowlege on various topics in the home language before children are exposed to them in English.

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