About the Study

Why this Study?

  1. First 5 California’s Strategic Plan, Objective 1.2.2 is to: “Support and pilot culturally and linguistically effective strategies to engage Dual Language Learners in the classroom.” Under this objective, the Dual Language Learner (DLL) Pilot Study has been funded to understand strategies that best support DLLs.
  2. California represents one of the most diverse states in the nation. While nationally, DLLs make up about 30% of children birth to age 5, estimates in California are almost double, making it a critical place to conduct this study. This work is necessary for developing a deeper understanding of learning experiences of DLL infants, toddlers, and preschool age children, including those who speak Spanish as well as those who speak other languages, across a variety of settings in California.

Study Goals

The study sought to identify the range and distribution of learning experiences for DLLs in California and to better understand how these experiences are linked to positive child and family outcomes. Specific goals of this study were to:

  1. Determine what are effective and feasible practices for DLLs in early learning and care settings, across three content areas:
    1. Instructional practices
    2. Professional development
    3. Family engagement
  2. Disseminate findings about best practices to relevant stakeholders and practitioners.

Study Design

  1. Through a mixed methods approach, we conducted broad exploratory analyses to describe the range of strategies used with DLLs in early learning programs; utilized a rigorous matched comparison (quasi-experimental) design to test the effectiveness of these strategies; and connected the dots of attitudes, behaviors, and contextual factors that influence practices and outcomes through an in-depth qualitative analysis. This occured in three stages: the Landscape Study (to describe current practices across the state),  the In-Depth Study (to examine the relationship between practices and child and family outcomes), and an Expansion Study (to understand challenges and facilitators in expanding and scaling up best practices).
  2. Guiding Questions:
    1. What is happening in early learning settings to support DLLs?
    2. What works to promote DLL learning and development?

Participating Counties

Sixteen focal counties across California participated in our study. Counties were selected with the goal of gathering information on practices that impact the largest numbers of DLLs in the state, so that findings represent the experiences of the state’s DLL population as a whole. Counties were selected in each region of the state based on the percentage of DLL children in a given county, the diversity of languages represented, and the presence of existing initiatives to support DLLs.

  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Contra Costa
  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Monterey
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Clara
  • Sonoma
  • Stanislaus
  • Yolo