Early Dual Language Learner Initiative
Early Dual Language Learners are children, ages birth through 5 years, who have been learning more than one language since birth, or who begin to learn another language after their home language is at least partially established. The term ‘dual language learner’ acknowledges that very young children are still actively developing their home language as they acquire English, and it better describes the nature of most young children’s total language development during these important early years. To provide services that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate, educators need to understand the similarities and differences between monolingual learning and dual language learning. Understanding what language development looks like in children who are acquiring more than one language is essential for identifying where children are in the acquisition process as well as what language supports and scaffolding are needed to take them to the next step in their learning. In addition, understanding the differences associated with dual language learning is critical when assessing children for possible language impairments to prevent both over- and under-referrals to special education. WIDA staff are working with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to develop resources, professional development, and technical assistance to community partners regarding culturally and linguistically responsive practices for young children, birth through 5. The newly developed Early Dual Language Learner Initiative (EDLLI) Advisory Team coordinates and advance these efforts. EDLLI collaborates with other state initiatives in order to include the strengths and needs of young dual language learners and their families in different statewide trainings.