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New Multilingual Learning Toolkit for California Early Childhood Educators: Q&A With Grantee Early Edge

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One-third of young children in the U.S. live in a household where a language other than English is spoken by a parent or caregiver. In some regions, like the Heising-Simons  Foundation’s home state of California, the majority of children under six years of age are dual-language learners, meaning that they are learning two or more languages at the same time. These emerging bilingual students are a rich asset, pointing to a multilingual future where all children have the opportunity to thrive. This promise cannot be realized unless and until educators have the skills and resources they need to offer effective instruction designed with multi-lingual learners in mind.

In order to address this need, Foundation grantee Early Edge has developed the Multilingual Learning Toolkit, an online hub with evidence-based guidance and resources for early childhood educators and administrators. The project was supported by the Emerging Bilingual Collaborative, a multi-funder initiative that supports California educators’ skills, knowledge, and capacity to deliver high-quality instruction to emerging bilingual learners grades preK-3. The Collaborative is comprised of the Sobrato Family Foundation, Silver Giving Foundation, California Community Foundation, James B. McClatchy Foundation, and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Carolyne Crolotte, Early Edge’s Director of Dual Language Learner (DLL) Program, provides more insights about the Multilingual Learning Toolkit’s features and resources in the Q&A below. We encourage you to dive in, and share these resources broadly.

What is the Multilingual Learning Toolkit and who is it for? Define the term “Multilingual Learner”

The Multilingual Learning Toolkit is a brand new website tailored for educators and administrators supporting Multilingual Learners in PreK-3rd Grade, and was the result of a collaborative effort between practitioners, experts, and researchers. Multilingual Learner (ML) is an umbrella term that includes both children birth to age 5 who are learning two or more languages at the same time (Dual Language Learners) and students in the TK-12 system who uses a language in addition to or other than English (English Learners). This definition is based on Improving Education for Multilingual and English Learner Students, Chapter 1.

What are some of the Toolkit’s key features and resources?

The Toolkit has two main components: the Starter Guide offers research-based foundational principles to support Multilingual Learners (MLs) and their families, and the Strategies & Resources page features 11 Instructional Topic areas that are structured into questions that a practitioner may have when working with MLs.

There are nearly 250 practical resources available within the Strategies & Resources section, ranging from short videos to tip sheets. In addition to this curated resource library, Early Edge California developed a Reflection Tool and User Guides to create specific guidance for teachers, administrators, professional development providers, and teacher education faculty, and 30 Strategy in Action vignettes with accompanying reflection questions.

Why is this a needed resource for PreK-3rd Grade educators and administrators?

We heard feedback from teachers, administrators, and faculty members that it’s difficult to access quality, trusted resources for supporting Multilingual Learners. We are excited to bring this much-needed Toolkit to the field as a one-stop shop of evidence-based instructional strategies with accompanying resources to help practitioners understand what it looks like to implement these strategies in their own contexts.

How does supporting the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of children impact their learning and development?

The overall message of the Toolkit—and one that Early Edge and our partners firmly believe in—is that being bilingual is a strength, an asset, and that all children will benefit from the opportunity to learn more than one language. When educators validate and support the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of children, they are helping to develop authentic learning experiences and recognize that language and culture are interconnected and are fundamental to academic success.

Who developed the Toolkit?

The content for the Multilingual Learning Toolkit was developed by American Institutes for Research (AIR), in collaboration with Early Edge California and Multilingual Learner experts and professional development providers around the country.

Do you accept new submissions?

Yes! Our goal is to continue adding and refining the Toolkit to ensure it remains as useful and current for the field. To submit a resource for consideration, please email us at [email protected].