California is endowed with a wealth of cultural and linguistic diversity. An estimated 60 percent of children under age 5 speak a language other than English at home, and the state’s early childhood education system enrolls more of these bilingual learners than any other in the United States.
However, stark opportunity and outcome gaps exist for emerging bilingual learners. These gaps do not reflect these children’s potential and they are not inevitable.
The long-term goal of the Ready for Emerging Bilingual Learners initiative is to build the capacity of California early learning programs to support emerging bilingual learners from birth through age 8, ensuring that they receive effective and rigorous instruction so that they may reach their full academic potential.
Given adequate and appropriate instructional supports, these children, and by extension California, will be poised to reap the academic, cultural, and economic benefits of multilingualism.
Priority areas for this initiative include:
- Building a shared research agenda to close critical gaps in knowledge, and disseminate resources.
- Supporting quality improvement and professional development systems to prepare and support teachers to use instructional strategies specific to the needs of emerging bilingual learners.
- Engaging families and educational leaders to recognize home language and culture as an asset, and to hold schools accountable to the needs of emerging bilingual learners.
Children 0-5 learning a home language and another language are referred to as dual-language learners. Children in the K-12 educational system who are not yet English proficient are referred to as English learners. We refer to both age groups as emerging bilingual learners.