January 29, 2020

Dual Language Learning Program, A Statewide CDC Success!

By Valerie Kelly

Dual Language Learning (DLL) plays a pivotal role in the preschool curriculum and many other settings where children and educators are provided with the resources to thrive in a such a setting. Our own Dual Language Learning Professional Development (DLLPD) pilot project expanded upon the strategy and has had several important key players in the module. 

Our Site Supervisors who participated in the DLL cohort all expressed enthusiasm for the program. Site supervisor Jennifer Escamilla connected with Dr. Olson, who visited the preschool program at Rio Del Norte CDC in Oxnard and got to know the CDC team. The program was hosted at California State University Channel Island (CSU-CI) and due to interest from CDC staff, they were able to get enrolled in the DLL program. The program provided weekly meetings for staff and training workshops helping staff support the children; including learning how to better support home language learning and increased knowledge of the benefits to dual language learning.  

Escamilla personally connects with the program as someone with dual language parents who was only taught English in the home growing up. “I was not shown how to be bilingual in the home,” Escamilla says as she expresses the challenge of communicating with her grandparents. “My grandmother only knew Spanish, so there was very little communication especially since she passed away when I was eight.” 

This experience, Escamilla says, has allowed her to improve the experience of DLL with students in the classroom. She spent seven years as a site supervisor at Haycox CDC, which has many DLL students of Mixtec background. During her time at CDI, Escamilla has been able to expand upon her Spanish speaking skills and is able to better communicate with the children. Additionally, she is in the process of expanding the DLL group to better support the families of her community. They even worked closely with a parent who thoroughly enjoyed sharing about the Hindi language with center staff. 

The success of the DLL program has spread rapidly throughout the state and site supervisors at other centers are enjoying the increasing success of the program. Janette Bryant, site supervisor at Mary Tsukamoto CDC, mentions that she has thoroughly enjoyed being part of the cohort. It has provided her with the knowledge and techniques to support DLL students with English in school, while also providing parents with better resources to support language learning at home. 

Karla Delgado is a site supervisor from Rio Real CDC, a campus with the only school in the district that has the DLL program. “On a campus that is a 90/10 program with predominantly Spanish speaking children, it is definitely an adjustment for the whole community,” Delgado says. “From the kitchen to the office staff.” Six out of nine teachers participated in the program. 

Delgado mentions that though she was not part of the program herself, it was crucial for her to attend calls as a site supervisor to help support staff: “A positive relationship with kinder teachers was essential in preparation for kinder and working with Zoo-phonics, a method of teaching to improve reading and spelling using a whole brain approach that includes hearing, speaking, seeing, and touching. (https://zoo-phonics.com/) “Children get earlier exposure with kinder,” she says. Rio Real has both full and part day programming, with a strategy that looks different in each classroom. 

At Rio Real CDC, English and Spanish are alternated in the classroom with a 50/50 strategy. The staff uses green scarves to indicate that they will be speaking English during that day or session, depending on the program. Delgado adds, “I am very thankful to CDI and Lizelle Wulff, Program Manager, for the resources and support.” 

Malissa Mastropierro, site supervisor at Muncy CDC, found out about the program via email and reached out to her teachers to gauge the interest, as a lot of the children at the center are DLL. As the program grew, Mastropierro witnessed the teachers’ passion for the project and enjoyed observing their professional growth. 

The program has even provided an opportunity for parental involvement! A welcome sign, including everyone’s different languages, was a foundation to establishing a partnership and sense of community. From help with translations, to looking over labels in different languages, the families have taken ownership of the program. In collaboration with the on-site school campus, families worked on a project that focused on the importance of the DLL program. Each family was asked to create a doll that was representative of their culture that included a thought bubble where each family explained why their culture was important to them.  

Program Manager, Lizelle Wulff, first became connected with the program just a few years after she joined CDI. She mentioned that it was largely due to her educational background and interest in improving support for DLL students and families. After being introduced by Rachel Champagne, Oxnard Program Director, Wulff connected with Dr. Carola Olivia-Olson and was invited to get involved in the CSU-CI project’s pilot in Fall 2019 as a CDI representative. CDI’s cohorts will be returning to the CSU-CI DLL courses this coming Spring 2020. 

Wulff mentions that the opportunity to work with experts in the field in a state-funded project allowed her to connect our agency with experts and resources. “It was a very rewarding experience to be able to work with teachers from different regions while facilitating the Fall 2019 cohort. They were extremely motivated and enthusiastic about this initiative, and I continue to see teachers implement strategies in classrooms.” 

The CSU-CI DLL courses have allowed teachers to become more confident in working with DLL children and families with different language and cultural backgrounds. The families are often represented through family collages, family books and multilingual labeling strategies. With this brings teachers increased awareness and confidence in sharing their DLL work to the communities they serve. The CSU-CI DLL partnership in learning will continue with course offerings this Spring Semester.  

Learn more about the foundation of the DLL program here: https://www.csuci.edu/news/channel/fall-2019/dual-language.htm?fbclid=IwAR2zEHH20uZQZgQOQT_ORVYJsK6a5ngfQ7Uc-Op1gePlk777Kolxw_HJpWs