Dual-Language Development:

Know Yourself

Breadcrumb trail:

Becoming more self-aware begins with examining yourself.

We each bring our experiences, perspectives, and worldview to our work — the good, the bad, and all of the in-between. These are what make us who we are and influence our practice with children, families, and colleagues. We also hold in our minds a picture of our ideal selves. Knowing more about yourself can pave the way to becoming the person and the early educator that more closely matches your ideal self. This first Key to Reflection and Inquiry can help you become more self-aware and intentional in examining who you are now and who you want to become.

A woman pausing for reflection.

Helping children continue to develop their home languages and cultures as they enter an English-speaking culture presents many challenges.

Identify some of the aspects of dual language development of which you are already aware.

What motivates you to take up this challenge?

"Unless teachers go out of their way to examine and change the ways their everyday practices support a power hierarchy that privileges some groups and disadvantages others, they will continue using practices that unwittingly sustain inequity."

— Nora Hyland, (2010)

Try This!

Consider that over 50% of school age children in California are from non-white racial groups, and already these students have a serious achievement gap compared to white students. Our work in early care and education can begin to reverse power and opportunity inequities.


Consider the following understandings needed to support dual language development for children:

  • I see the importance of creating a climate of belonging to promote linguistic and cultural democracy in my program.
  • I view myself as a language learner for the different languages among the children and families in my group.
  • I recognize English as the language of power, but I want children to value and respect all languages.

Reflect on what you need to strengthen in yourself. What will you do first?

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 dispositions needed to effectively deal with Dual-Language Development. Review dispositions in the CA ECE Competencies. Scroll to page 45.

Can you find other places in this competency area that address needed dispositions and understandings you want to cultivate?

Download the California ECE Competencies

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

Extend Your Learning

California’s Best Practices for Young Dual Language Learners:  Research Overview Papers (PDF; 3MB) is a series of six research overviews of areas that impact and inform best  practices in supporting the development of young dual language learners. This resource was developed for the State Advisory Council (SAC) on Early Learning and Care. The papers include:

  1. Neuroscience Research:  How Experience with One or More Languages Affects the Developing Brain
  2. Cognitive Consequences of Dual Language Learning:  Cognitive Function, Language and Literacy, Science and Mathematics, and Social-Emotional Development
  3. Program Elements and Teaching Practices to Support Young Dual Language Learners
  4. Family Engagement in Early Childhood Programs:  Serving Families of Dual Language Learners
  5. Assessment of Young Dual Language Learners in Preschool
  6. Early Intervention and Young Dual Language Learners with Special Needs

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.