Last week I participated in a round table meeting for the Center for Early Care and Education Research – Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL). It was a lot of fun and the participant list read like a who’s who in bilingual language acquisition– so it was really great and I got to learn a lot.
One thing that was really striking was the level of passion and commitment among the members of the team. Even when we didn’t agree– the focus was on truly understanding the context(s) in which young children are learning two languages and to understand what factors facilitate learning. It’s important to know what helps support children’s learning so that they can have positive academic outcomes.
One of the things that was disappointing is reports that parents are still being told that they should speak English rather than their home language. This is in spite of the fact that most of the research clearly shows that continued support of the first language in early childhood helps children have better English language outcomes.
One thing that the center is doing is publishing research briefs that focus on systematic reviews of the literature. These are important and provide a way of understanding the state of the art in this area. It’s also a good resource for parents, teachers, and researchers. The reviews also serve to point out what we still don’t know. But it is exciting– we know a lot more that we used to and that’s progress.