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Blog | | First 5 California

First 5 California DLL Pilot Community of Practice: October 2021 Meeting Summary

By: Early Edge California, Advancement Project California, and Glen Price Group (GPG), in partnership with First 5 California and the California Department of Education

This blog is the seventh post in a series of blog posts about the DLL Pilot CoP. Click here for additional blog posts.

Resources for Educators and the Field




Policy Implications

  • Policy makers allocate resources for a statewide public awareness campaign on the importance of sustaining home language and the benefits of bilingualism.
  • Policy makers, foundations, and business organizations should consider entering into a public-private partnership to elevate the importance of sustaining home language and the benefits of bilingualism, and a broader workforce development and global workforce competitiveness strategy.
  • The California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) should develop materials and resources, in multiple languages, that early education providers can disseminate on the importance of sustaining home language and the benefits of bilingualism to families in their programs.

Imagine if you and your child didn’t share the same language? Consider what it would feel like if you asked your child a question in your family’s home language, only for them to respond in English, with words you didn’t understand. Then imagine eventually your child stopped responding at all? 

The October meeting of the First 5 CA Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot Community of Practice (CoP) focused on implementing campaigns on the importance of sustaining home language, the benefits of bilingualism, and the role home language plays in English development.

CoP participants began by framing the issues inherent in the topic by sharing their own experiences and discussed the legacy of past legislation and the need to do “repair work”​ in the community.

Unpacking the Need for Sustaining Home Language Development Miro Board Activity


To launch the group’s learning on this topic, the CoP heard an overview of the Speak Your Language campaign and reviewed their website, which includes resources specific to early childhood educators.

Speak Your Language Website

Next, Patricia Pate and Jen McNeil from Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) shared their expertise on the topic including several helpful resources and research briefs. They laid out the top 5 actions to consider when counties or programs want to implement a  campaign on the importance of sustaining home language. These included:

  • Educating the whole field
      • Include supervisors, assistants, and office staff.
      • Make sure the field not only understands the research but can articulate and share it.
  • Ensuring that home language is visible to children, families, and partners
      • Use visual scaffolding to support comprehension.
      • Provide content in home language.
  • Inviting families as partners in learning and experts in the home language
      • This may provide help to educators who are not bilingual.
      • Creates a positive atmosphere around bilingualism.
      • Honors and reflects the culture of students and families.
  • Elevating specific messages for families – using both “research and heart-based” messaging
      • Include the benefits of bilingualism. 
      • Dispel myths.
      • Share research findings on language development.
  • Aligning campaigns across systems both vertically and horizontally

Presenters from SEAL also stressed how essential it is to communicate the message in all home languages to reach the full community as well as how important it is to make use of a community’s traditional channels of communication. There was an expressed need to move beyond a “one and done” approach in these campaign efforts as it takes time and consistency to re-educate a community after the harmful messaging that came alongside English-only instruction. Additionally, presenters and CoP members both highlighted the need to keep returning to an “Asset Oriented Framework” of bilingualism in our communities.

CoP members discussed the presentation in breakout rooms, sharing lessons learned, strategies, resources, and challenges faced in doing this work.

Successes and bright spots in local counties include the following:

  • Riverside is engaging parents and families with simple infographics to convey the importance of sustaining home language and the benefits of bilingualism.
  • LA County Office of Education is partnering with Child Care Alliance to deliver professional development to ECE educators and family workshops aimed at sharing the benefits of bilingualism.
  • Santa Barbara is engaging in strategic planning and working through social media to communicate with families.
  • Yolo County offers professional development for administrators and educators in the Woodland Joint Unified School District aimed at sharing the benefits of bilingualism.
  • Orange County provides training for FCCs on Saturdays in Spanish on the benefits of bilingualism.

Challenges cited by CoP participants include the following:

  • Los Angeles expressed a need for videos showing strategies in action and modeling of strategies for providers and families in the home language to be used during training—especially in Korean, Vietnamese, and Mandarin.
  • Fresno requested more resources like Talk, Read, Sing in multiple languages.
  • Orange County noted the lack of emphasis on DLLs with special needs and the challenge to locate resources to provide more customized support to these learners.

While CoP members highlighted the ways they are elevating the importance of home language and bilingualism, they also indicated the need for concerted state efforts and broader communications work that begins to deliver these messages at scale. If parents and families have heard these messages through media and campaigns like Talk, Read, Sing, the work being done in counties will be amplified and more effective. 

“No more households where mothers and children cannot communicate with each other.”

—CoP Member

This blog will be updated regularly to share the emerging lessons learned, needed resources, and policy recommendations coming from the DLL Pilot CoP meetings. Learn more about the First 5 CA DLL Pilot.

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