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The social-emotional development of dual language learners: Looking back at existing research and moving forward with purpose

This review describes the state of existing knowledge with regard to dual language learners' (DLLs) social-emotional development birth to age 5. The review focuses on several widely recognized dimensions of children's social-emotional development: self-regulation, social competence, social cognition, and problem behaviors. We begin by presenting a theoretical perspective that frames our understanding of the interplay between relational and contextual factors that contribute to the social-emotional well-being of DLLs. A targeted search of the literature identified 14 peer-reviewed studies published from 2000 to 2011 that examined social-emotional outcomes for young DLLs in family, school, and peer contexts. Results suggest that DLLs have at least equal (if not better) social-emotional outcomes compared to native English speakers. There is also some evidence that the use of the home language in early childhood classrooms can be a positive, moderating factor for DLLs' social-emotional development. Contextual and individual characteristics are highly correlated with DLL status, making it difficult to develop clear conclusions about the unique influence of DLL status on social-emotional outcomes. We conclude by identifying avenues for future inquiry. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Literature Review

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