The number of dual-language learners (DLLs) from low-income backgrounds who attend early education programs in the U.S. is rapidly increasing, leading to a need for research that examines the effects of classroom practices, including whether teachers speak English or the home language, on DLL children's school readiness. This issue was examined in Educare, an expanded Early Head Start/Head Start program for low-income children that ensures children receive high-quality early education and care. Analyses of 1961 DLL Educare children across 16 sites were conducted to compare the acquisition of language skills in English and Spanish among children in classrooms in which teachers used English and little or no Spanish, English with some Spanish, and both English and Spanish. Findings indicated that DLL children in all groups showed gains in language skills in both English and Spanish, but that DLL children from classrooms with both English and Spanish instruction had significantly higher Spanish auditory comprehension scores than other children. Findings from this study have implications for practice, high-lighting the value of all 3 types of classrooms for English-language growth and the additional value of English/Spanish instruction for Spanish language growth. (author abstract)
Use of the home language in preschool classrooms and first- and second-language development among dual-language learners
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