Dual-Language Development:

Consider the Child's Point of View

Breadcrumb trail:

Gain valuable insights through the child's perspective.

Children see the world quite differently than we do. The world is new to them. They are experiencing so many "firsts" and trying to make sense of them. When we seek out their points of view, we gain valuable insights into their thinking, their questions, their fears, and the things that tickle their fancy and delight them. Take time to listen and watch closely. Let their perspectives inform everything you do in your day-to-day practice.

A young boy looking through a toy magnifying glass while the teacher looks on.

Culture and language are closely linked. In young children's minds, culture and language are synonymous with family. Children may not have the words, but they recognize where power and privilege live. Imagine a child entering an early childhood program where no one speaks his or her language, or looks or does things like their family does them. Imagine the sense of confusion, the isolation, and the fear that might exist in the child.

Try This!

Consider this story about Keej.

How might you help him feel like a member of the program's community, yet connected to, and proud of, his culture?

At home, Keej lives with his siblings, parents, and grandparents, all of whom speak Hmong. When he was four years old, Keej's family moved to a European-American suburb. His parents enrolled him in an ECE program with all English speakers. Keej's father was eager for him to learn English, so that he would be successful in school, and be able to translate for family members in other English-speaking settings, such as the doctor's office.

Before the end of the school year, Keej was fully fluent in English and no longer wanted to speak Hmong at home. He began to feel a bit embarrassed by how different his family was from all of his new friends.

Keej sitting on the floor (left) and wearing thick-rimmed toy glasses (right).

Reflect on Keej's story. Use the template below to record your observations, your responses, and your reflections. Share them with a colleague to start a dialogue.

  • What do you think is the source of Keej's feelings and refusal to speak Hmong?
  • What might be the positive and negative effects on his relationship with his family and his cultural identity?
  • What could you, as an early childhood educator, do to foster pride in the culture and home language of children like Keej?

Use this template to record your observations, thoughts, and feelings.  Download the Template

Deepen Your Understanding

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

Deepen your understanding of the Topic: Linguistic and cultural diversity in Performance Area 4 of the CA ECE Competencies. Scroll to page 50.

Can you find other places in this competency area that address your interests and needs?

Download the California ECE Competencies

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

Extend Your Learning

Return to this article about "Social Justice in Early Childhood Classrooms" to consider changes you might want to make in how you approach your work.