Dr. Linda Espinosa, Dual Language Learner (DLL) expert and Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Missouri-Colmbia, provided concluding remarks for the Policy Summit.
Dr. Espinosa stressed that California is, and has been, a national leader in identifying and addressing the needs of DLLs and Multilingual Learners (MLs) and their families. California has systematically added to, and followed the science and the research in the field both at the state and national level over the years. Research shows that all infants and toddlers have the capacity to benefit from exposure to languages, and that there are cognitive and linguistic benefits to balanced bilingualism. Family engagement is critical, as well as the need for continued development of best practices and appropriate assessments.
California has gone beyond learning from research to applying the findings to policy and practice as seen in the following slide.
Dr. Espinosa recommended that California make emergent bilingualism a goal for all children entering Kindergarten, not just English for DLLs. California has moved far beyond federal compliance with assessments for DLLs, and can now begin processes to assess home language as a way to fully value home language and to illustrate the child’s full language repertoire. Eventually, all children should be assessed in more than one language, which will help change the mindset that not having a certain level of English proficiency at Kindergarten entry makes a child somehow less than monolingual learners.
In order to do this, CA needs to provide investment in a number of areas as indicated in the slide below.
“By committing to a vision of early bilingualism for all, California will continue to lead the nation in capitalizing on the linguistic, cultural, and economic potential of all its citizens!” -Dr. Linda Espinosa