Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

Dual Language Learners (DLLs) - A DECAL-WIDA Partnership

Introducing a Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Supporting, Instructing, and Assessing Dual Language Learners


Language development in young children is a critical variable in the development of school readiness and early literacy skills, essential precursors to later academic success. “School readiness” is center stage nationally and at the state-level, yet few explicit supports are available to one of the fastest growing populations, dual language learners (DLLs): young children learning two or more languages at the same time or learning a second language (English) while continuing to develop their home language. In Georgia the number of DLLs has tripled between 1990 and 2012, DLLs make up 20% of children age 8 and under 2012 (Source: Migration Policy Institute, Analysis of 1990 and 2000 Census and pooled 20120-2012 American Community Surveys, 2014).

With increasing numbers of DLLs enrolling in early care and education programs throughout Georgia, such programs must build the capacity of their practitioners so that they can appropriately meet the needs of the linguistically diverse children in their care and their families. DECAL has partnered with World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) to roll out a comprehensive plan for supporting, instructing, and assessing DLLs, age 2.5 – 5.5 years.

Who are Young Dual Language Learners?

Dual language learner (DLL) is a term used by early childhood practitioners to describe children who are learning two or more languages. “Dual language learner” acknowledges that very young children are still actively developing their home language(s) along with an additional language.

Further information and first-hand accounts of working with DLLs are included in the WIDA publication WIDA Focus on the Early Years – Dual Language Learners. This publication is available for free.

What are Early English Language Development Standards?

WIDA has developed Early English Language Development (E-ELD) Standards that describe the social and academic language DLLs need to process and produce across standards-based curricula in early care and education programs. The Standards are aligned with the WIDA K-12 English Language Development Standards (more information on the WIDA website) and have been cross-walked with states’ Early Learning Standards (ELS) and the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework – including the Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards (GELDS, more information about the GELDS).

The WIDA E-ELD Standards are designed to be used in conjunction with the GELDS to help practitioners concretely connect the linguistic variations and needs of DLLs across all content areas of standards-based curricula and assessments. See “The Connection: Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards and WIDA Early English Language Development Standards” for more information. Download your copy here (click on the document title below DOWNLOADS & PRODUCTS to access this free PDF).

The Early English Language Development Standards

A Resource Guide, introducing and explaining the E-ELD Standards and their framework, is available as PDF on the WIDA website. Download your copy here (click on “E-ELD Standards: Resource Guide” below DOWNLOADS & PRODUCTS to access this free PDF). The 2014 Edition of the Resource Guide is available as print publication through the WIDA Store.

Professional Development

WIDA Early Years, in partnership with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), is offering a training of trainers focused on supporting language development of dual language learners (DLLs) in early education and care programs in Georgia. The Master Cadre program consists of in-person and technology-based learning and interactive opportunities, as well as technical assistance, over the course of seven months. Members of the Master Cadre will learn about the WIDA Early English Language Development (E-ELD) Standards Framework and how to utilize these standards to support, instruct, and assess young DLLs in early education and care programs. Master Cadre participants will develop their facilitation skills and receive assistance from WIDA Early Years staff to develop their own presentations and training sessions about the content of the program.

The Master Cadre program is free with agreement to deliver two sessions based on the content learned at no charge. Two regional programs will be offered in 2015. Each regional program is limited to 30 participants. Find more information and the online application form here.

Family Engagement

Young children learn language through the context of relationships with their primary caregivers during daily routines. Young children also learn the cultural rules and roles for social engagement associated with language through these meaningful interactions with adults and peers. WIDA recognizes the significant impact of child-adult interactions and practitioner-family interactions on early language development.

WIDA Early Years has developed a wall-calendar as tool for supporting home language development and learning at home. Learning Language Every Day! An Activity Calendar for Children Ages 2.5-5.5 Years and Their Families will be available in early summer 2015 through the WIDA Store.

Information about WIDA Early Years

Since 2003, WIDA advances academic language development and academic achievement for linguistically diverse children and students through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional development for educators and practitioners. WIDA Early Years, provides tools and services tailored for practitioners, administrators, and families of young DLLs, age 2.5 – 5.5 years. Through the partnership with DECAL, WIDA Early Years, is able to offer professional development and resources directly to practitioners and families in Georgia.

Questions about the DECAL-WIDA Partnership?