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Early Childhood Language Development Institute (ECLDI)

At a Glance

A recipient of the 2006-2007 J. Russell Kent Award, ECLDI was established in 2003 to enhance the academic performance skills of English Language Learner (ELL) students by narrowing the readiness gap for young dual language learners. The Institute’s mission is to prepare children with home languages other than English to be eager and ready to learn in school and throughout life.

Early Childhood Language Development Institute (ECLDI)
Early Childhood Language Development Institute (ECLDI)
Early Childhood Language Development Institute (ECLDI)

Is it true that home language interferes with children's ability to learn English?

Not true! The human brain has extensive capacity to learn multiple languages. Furthermore, a strong foundation in the home language positively impacts the learning of a second language.

Is it true that if a child learning a second language demonstrates signs of language delay, dropping the home language will resolve the issue?

Not true! Language delays in bilingual children typically show up in both their languages.

The above are examples of common myths that have been associated with the process of second language acquisition. The ECLDI trainings address these and other myths and provide the corresponding research findings in order to pave the road for supporting young dual language learners in growing up bilingually.

Preparing Young Dual Language Learners to be Eager and Ready to Learn in School and Throughout Life

A program of the San Mateo County Office of Education

About ECLDI

The Early Childhood Language Development Institute (ECLDI), a recipient of the 2006-2007 J. Russell Kent Award, was established in 2003. The Institute’s vision is to enhance the academic performance skills of English Learner (EL) students in the public school system by narrowing the readiness gap for young Dual Language Learners (DLLs).  This vision is based on the premise that a child’s home language and culture is very closely tied to her identity and self-esteem, which are critical  elements that ultimately influence children’s learning experiences in school and throughout life. Furthermore, research has consistently demonstrated that a strong foundation in the home language contributes to learning a second language more successfully.

ECLDI creatively addresses the readiness gap for DLL students by providing trainings and educational resources for early childhood educators and families that

  • Support a strong literacy base in the early years in both the home language AND English; and
  • Introduce strategies to strengthen culturally meaningful family-teacher partnerships.

What We've Learned From Research

While children are born with the ability to develop language, the environment also plays a critical role in language and literacy development.  Research on the process of learning a second language illustrates how educators can support children in learning a new language without risking the loss of their home language.  Below are research highlights that are reflected in the ECLDI curriculum.

Home Language, Culture, and Identity

  • Preserving children's home languages supports their lasting connection with their families and culture, contributing to a healthy sense of identity.
  • A robust sense of identity is essential for positive self-esteem, an element that significantly influences children's learning experiences and their future academic success.
  • Culturally responsive learning environments open up children's affective filters by increasing feelings of security and competence that, in turn, make learning a new language much easier.

Second Language Acquisition

  • A strong foundation in the home language positively impacts the learning of a second language.
  • Young children have the brain capacity and the neural flexibility for learning two or more languages without getting confused.
  • Code switching is a common communication strategy and a normal part of multilingual language development.

Home-School Partnerships

  • Culturally responsive learning environments support young children in bridging home and school by acknowledging the key role a child's language and culture play in her identity, social-emotional, and cognitive development.

"When families' funds of knowledge are recognized and drawn into the preschool setting, these family resources come alive to support children's literacy learning and create positive emotional conditions that also contribute to learning." -T. A. Roberts, 2009

Applying What We've Learned

ECLDI's “Viewing Multilingualism as a Gift” training series includes a series of 4 workshops for providers and a series of 4 workshops for families of children with home languages other than English. The trainings for families are also available in Spanish.  Both sets of trainings  are available at program sites and free of charge in San Mateo County.

Workshops for Educators

"Parents feel important when a non-native speaker like myself speaks their language - even if it's just one simple word like a greeting or thank you.  It allows us to get closer." -Teacher participant at ECLDI training, San Mateo County

The ECLDI curriculum deepens teachers' understanding of the relationships among home language and culture, the development of identity and self-esteem, early learning experiences, and second language acquisition.  As a result, through our workshops early childhood educators develop the skills to provide culturally meaningful language and literacy experiences for all children. The training series for early childhood educators include:

Culture and its Impact on our Work with Families

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • Their own deep-rooted values in the context of working with diverse children and families
  • What culture is and how it impacts our work with children and families
  • Tools that can support getting to know other cultures through open dialogues

Supporting Children's Home Languages and Cultures

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • Why it’s important to support children’s home languages and cultures
  • Common myths and corresponding research highlights associated with second language acquisition
  • Classroom strategies for supporting children's home languages and cultures

Supporting Children's Second Language Acquisition

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • The paths to bilingualism and stages of second language acquisition
  • The affective filter and its impact on children's learning
  • Culturally responsive classroom strategies for supporting second language acquisition

Developing Partnerships with Families

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • The role of families' funds of knowledge on children’s learning experiences
  • Strategies for authentic and meaningful engagement of families from diverse backgrounds
  • Resources related to building relationships with diverse families and strengthening home-school partnerships

Workshops for Families

child and adult enjoying book"It's important for me to teach my children Spanish for communication and closeness.  If they lose Spanish, I lose them." -Parent participant at ECLDI training, San Mateo County

Research validates a significant correlation between involvement of families at school and children's academic success.  ECLDI trainings provide opportunities for families to share school-related experiences with one another while providing them with tools for supporting more active roles in their children's language and literacy development.  Each workshop includes at-home activities to further support language-rich experiences for children. The training series for families include:

Language and Culture

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • The ecological view of the child.
  • Meaningful strategies for supporting children's oral language skills.
  • Role of families in the development of children's identity, self-esteem, and, ultimately, their future academic success.

Promoting Home Language PLUS English

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • The benefits of knowing more than one language.
  • Research and myths related to second language acquisition.
  • Strategies for supporting multilingualism in young children.

Developing Partnerships with Teachers

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • The positive impact of family involvement on children's academic success.
  • Ways families can share their funds of knowledge with their children's schools.
  • Family-teacher partnerships that support children's identity, self-esteem, and language development.

Transition to Kindergarten

In this workshop, participants explore:

  • School options and guidelines for selecting a local school.
  • Families' rights and responsibilities in the public school system.
  • Schools' and teachers' expectations of children and their families.

“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”  -Wade Davis