Sitio en español

Teaching and Parenting Young Dual Language Learners

IEL Blog: Teaching and Parenting Young English Language Learners
Maintaining Home Language Is Key to Later Reading in English About
By Bernadette M. Laumann, March 2014

 Bernadette M. Laumann

Dr. Bernadette M. Laumann is the coordinator of the Illinois Early Learning Project. She has been a child care teacher, an early childhood special education teacher, director of an inclusive early childhood program, researcher, and university teacher educator. Her research interests include mentoring and induction activities for beginning teachers and the use of technology in connecting evidence-based practice.

One of the most important ways families, teachers, and caregivers of young dual language learners (DLLs) can promote development is by connecting words children have learned in their home language to words in English. The development of oral language is a foundation for later reading. It is very important to encourage the development of strong oral language skills in the child’s home language.

As more young DLLs enter child care and other preschool settings, their families, teachers, and caregivers wonder about how to support early development. The Expressive Communication section of the 2013 Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three includes strategies for interaction to help children develop a large and rich vocabulary. Below are recommendations for family members and other caregivers to help develop a young DLL’s oral language skills:

  1. Show appreciation when the child is attempting new words in either language.
  2. Talk and read with the child often; use words and books that reflect the home culture.
  3. Narrate what is occurring throughout the child’s day (e.g., “Let’s sit down and have lunch”).

When families, teachers, and other caregivers focus on young children’s oral language development in their home language, they set the stage for future success in early literacy and reading skills in both their home language and in English (Magruder, Hayslip, Espinosa, & Matera, 2013). A strong oral language foundation in the home language enhances communication between families and their young children and is a basis for later reading and writing in both the home language and English.


IEL Resources

  • 2013 Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
    Developmental Domain 3: Language Development, Communication, & Literacy
    Expressive Communication
  • Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards
    English Language Learner Home Language Development
  • IEL Blog: Teaching and Parenting Young English Language Learners
    A Mother's Story: Birth to 2 About
    By Hyejin Park, November 2013

Additional Resources

A recent trend in early childhood and education in Illinois is the increasing population of children who speak a home language other than English and enter early care and education with few or no English words. This blog is intended to help parents and teachers support these children as they learn English and their home languages. We will be inviting experts in the state to write or co-write blogs with the IEL staff. We invite our visitors to comment on the blogs, suggest topics for future blogs, or ask questions by emailing


The opinions, resources, and referrals provided on the IEL Web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of medical or legal advice, or of other appropriate services. We encourage you to seek direct local assistance from a qualified professional if necessary before taking action.

The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.