Dual Language Learners: Screening and Assessing Young Children Objective Understand some of

Dual Language Learners: Screening and Assessing Young Children

Objective
Understand some of the unique considerations that educators must keep in mind when
screening and assessing young dual language learners (DLLs).
DEC Recommended Practices
This Activity addresses the DEC Recommended Practices (DEC-RP) topic area outlined
below:
Assessment
A3. Practitioners use assessment materials and strategies that are appropriate for the child’s
age and level of development and accommodate the child’s sensory, physical, communication,
cultural, linguistic, social, and emotional
characteristics.
A5. Practitioners conduct assessments in the child’s dominant language and in additional
languages if the child is learning more than one language.
A6. Practitioners use a variety of methods, including observation and interviews, to gather
assessment information from multiple sources, including the child’s family and other significant
individuals in the child’s life.
Overview
Children’s language development is dynamic; it is constantly changing. This is especially
the case for dual language learners. Not only are they exposed to and learning their home
language but they are also exposed to and learning a second language, such as English. If a
child is learning his or her home language at the same time as he or she is learning English,
the pace might be slower than that of a child who is learning only one language. On the other
hand, if a child has mastered his or her home language, he or she will most likely learn a
second language over time. In either case, delays in social and communication development
might occur when a child is learning two or more languages.

Discerning between normal developmental language differences in young DLLs and potential
developmental delays can be difficult. For example, if a child is asked to “Put the block on top
of the table,” and he or she picks up the block and just holds it, it may be difficult to discern
whether or not the child doesn’t understand the concept, or whether he or she simply doesn’t
have the English vocabulary to correctly respond.

Dual Language Learners: Screening and Assessing Young Children

Because delays in social and communication development can be red flags for further
developmental problems, it is important for teachers to determine whether a DLL has a
language difference or a developmental delay or disability. In general, teachers should not rely
on a single assessment to make this determination. Instead, they should:
• Consider how long the child has been speaking and exposed to his or her home language
• Consider how long the child has been speaking and exposed to English
• Determine whether the difficulties are present in both languages
• Observe the child’s language learning environments
• Screen and assess the child in a variety of ways over time

Activity
Click either the URL or the image below to visit a Webpage where you can watch the video
Interview of Fred Genesee. After you have done so, answer the questions that follow.
http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/?p=109670 (Links to an external site.)

Questions/Discussion Topics
1. What should teachers consider when assessing young dual languages?
2. Why is it important to assess young dual language learners both formally and informally
across the day and across the school year?

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