Maintaining Home Language Is Key to Later Reading in English

About this resource
Reviewed: 2014

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.

Bernie Laumann

Dr. Bernadette M. Laumann was the coordinator of the Illinois Early Learning Project from 2013 to 2019. 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.
Biography current as of 10/2019