Dual Language Learners

Celebrate and support bilingualism in your TK classroom

As a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) teacher, you may have a number of students who speak a language(s) other than English in their homes. These children are often referred to as Dual Language Learners (DLLs) in early childhood and as English Learners (ELs) in K-12. Children’s home language is central to their ability to develop proficiency in other languages. When a child has a strong foundation in their home language, it makes it easier for them to learn English. Bilingualism is associated with benefits in cognitive and social-emotional development, academic achievement, and expanded future career opportunities. While bilingual instruction is ideal for DLLs, TK provides these children an excellent opportunity to develop English language skills as well as conceptual knowledge in math, literacy, science, and social studies while supporting their home language.

Multiple and integrated language- and literacy-rich experiences promote young learners’ acquisition of language through listening, speaking, reading, and writing embedded in the instructional program throughout the day. DLLs in your TK class need additional supports woven into their daily activities to ensure their long-term academic and social success.

TK provides fertile ground for teachers, including monolingual English-speaking teachers, to effectively implement strategies that enhance learning and development for young DLLs. As you become familiar with your students’ needs and apply evidence-based practices specific to DLLs, you will give each child’s journey into academic English a boost while also celebrating and fostering their home language development and cultural backgrounds.

For more information on evidence-based key principles, strategies, and resources for supporting DLLs and ELs, visit the Multilingual Learning Toolkit website.

Five Dual Language Learner (DLL) Teaching Strategies

​​The teaching strategies below give concrete approaches for English language development in your classroom. They are designed to guide developmentally appropriate TK instruction, moving your students along a continuum of learning by bridging the Preschool Learning Foundations with the Kindergarten Common Core.

Strategy 1: Comprehension of English (Receptive English)
Strategy 2: Self-Expression in English (Expressive English)
Strategy 3: Understanding and Response to English Literacy Activities
Strategy 4: Symbol, Letter, and Print Knowledge in English
Strategy 5: Integrated Approaches for English Language Development and Family Engagement

Click the button below to download the teaching strategies (PDF).

Five Dual Language Learner (DLL) Teaching Strategies