By Karen Nemeth
Have you read about the “Magic 8”? These are the eight practices that are most likely to build preschool student success, according to research by Dr. Dale Farran and her co-authors1,2,5.. They could provide great advantages for young children who are dual language learners, but how can they be applied in classrooms where the teacher and child don’t speak the same language? Here are the Magic 8 as listed in The Hechinger Report2 with my DLL adaptations added.
So many of the thinking skills described in the Magic 8 can be strengthened with home language supports. Consider how much young DLLs are missing in classrooms where they are struggling to understand English so they don’t get many of the valuable experiences outlined here. Early childhood educators and researchers must keep in mind that English words can be attached to strong early learning skills and content learned in another language, but it is hard to replace lost opportunities for foundational content and skill learning.
New data reported by the Migration Policy Institute4 affirms that close to one third of all preschool children in the U.S. are dual language learners. One third. That means that MOST early childhood teachers need strategies that work for one or more children who speak languages other than English. Every recommendation for early education practice should address language diversity.