by Karen Nemeth
No, really. I’m asking you if you are serious about being an advocate for preschool DLLs. Because getting serious means we have to go beyond occasional events and start weaving awareness of DLLs into everyday actions. There’s a lot of talk about preschool initiatives right now so what we do and say about young children who are growing up with multiple languages is critical right now! Here are some of the strategies I use. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!
10. Target administrators. Seriously. You can train teachers till the cows come home, but if their bosses don’t attend, don’t read, don’t agree… all that training is lost.
11. Coaches and mentors = MUST learn more about best practices for teaching DLLs. No more saying ‘that’s not my specialty’. If you work in a program where almost every classroom has at least one child who is a DLL – it is your job to know. We’re counting on you!
12. Walk the walk. Do a little bit to learn a new language every day. Listen to songs, play games with the children, listen to CDs in the car… whatever you can.
13. Consider your assessments – don’t just accept them. No. we really really really do not have to do things because ‘that’s the way we always did that.”
14. Think about state and local partnerships. WHY doesn’t your college’s ESL department ever speak to the Early Childhood Education department??? Who is on your state’s early childhood collaborative? Play nicely together!
How about this for an advocacy question: Young DLLs are 25% of our population of preschool-aged children, so, if your program only meets the needs of the other 75% of the children, then even the best program will never score better than 75%. Is it really your goal as a teacher, a director, a professor, or a policymaker to aim for nothing more than a “C” average for our educational system?? Of course not. If we want all of our children to be ready to succeed in Kindergarten – then we have to work harder to meet the needs of ALL of the children – not just the easy ones. Seriously.