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Dual Language Learners (DLL)

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A dual language learner (DLL) is a child between the age of birth to five who is learning two (or more) languages at the same time or learning a second language while continuing to develop their first language. Children who are DLL come from homes where a language other than English is spoken.

In response to the Policy Statement on Supporting the Development of Children who are Dual Language Learners in Early Childhood Programs that was developed by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, OCDEL has partnered with WIDA to provide resources that provide guiding principles, research, and best practices for early learning professionals working with young dual language learners (DLL) and English language learners (ELL), their families, and their communities.  WIDA advances academic language development and academic achievement for children and youth who are culturally and linguistically diverse through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional learning for educators.

The following list of dual language learner (DLL) resources was assembled by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).

ECLKC Dual Language Learner Toolkit

This toolkit provides resources that can be used to support young children who are learning their home languages and English. It is divided into three sections: administrators and managers; teachers, caregivers, and family services staff; and families.


OCDEL Dual Language Learner Toolkit

The DLL Tool Kit has been developed to provide research-based information, guidelines, and principles for early learning professionals to promote culturally competent practice. While it provides a broad range of information about young ELLs and their families, its primary purposes are:

  • To define cultural competence and proficiency
  • To describe second language acquisition
  • To unpack myths and realities about DLLs
  • To highlight research and best practices for educating and supporting young DLLs and their families
  • To outline strategies to build and sustain culturally competent and proficient early learning professionals and organizations.

PA English Language Development Standards & Performance Indicators

This guidance document is designed to assist in effectively planning instruction and assessment for DLLs and ELs at varying degrees of proficiency levels and across content areas. The documents provide a Model Performance Indicator (MPI) for each of the four domains which is then broken down specific to content, grade cluster, and proficiency level. Each MPI is then aligned to the academic standards for grades Pre-K to 12.


WIDA Concept Tool: A Language-Focused Approach to Planning Equitable Learning Opportunities

Teachers can use this concept tool to explore a language-focused approach to planning. A language-focused approach to planning applies an equity and language lens to the design of active and engaging learning opportunities for young children.


WIDA Early Years Can Do Descriptors

The Early Years Can Do Descriptors provide examples of what dual language learners (DLLs) can do at various stages of language development. They can help educators interpret results from WIDA language development assessments and identify ways to design opportunities for DLLs’ meaningful participation in learning environments where the language of interaction is English.


WIDA Focus Bulletin – Promoting Equity for Young Multilingual Children

This Focus Bulletin invites early care and education (ECE) educators to promote equity for young multilingual children and their families. In the bulletin, WIDA offers ideas for taking a languagefocused approach to equitable caregiving and instructional practice in ECE settings. Also, WIDA highlight voices from the field, and offers reflection questions to help you consider what it means to promote equity for multilingual children and their families.


WIDA Language-Focused Planning Tool

Teachers can use this tool to get started with a language-focused approach to planning equitable learning opportunities for multilingual children.


WIDA Language-Focused Planning Tool: Annotated Guide

Teachers can use the guiding questions in this annotated guide to familiarize themselves with the Language-Focused Planning Tool.


WIDA Teaching in PreK-3

Multilingual children learn and develop language across their home, community and pre-kindergarten through third grade settings. Children’s identities, experiences, environments, relationships, exposure to languages, and opportunities to use language all play key roles in their early language development. This webpage provides tools and resources to help collaborate around PreK-3 transitions along with specific Pre-Kindergarten resources. 


Dual Language Learner (DLL) & English Language Learner (ELL) Toolkit

The ELL Tool Kit is a project of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).  It is due to their vision and leadership that this resource has been developed to provide guiding principles, research, and best practices for early learning professionals working with young Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and English Language Learners (ELLs), their families, and their communities.

PA Dual Language Learner Professional Development Offerings

As of September 1, 2023, WIDA will offer a new self-paced workshop titled Exploring the WIDA PreK-3 Essential Actions.  This course will introduce educators to the new WIDA PreK-3 Essential Actions. Educators will have an opportunity to build their knowledge and understanding of the Essential Actions and to reflect on their own ideologies, practices, and settings. Access to the course will require a WIDA Secure Portal account. Search the training calendar in the PD Registry for Exploring the WIDA PreK-3 Essential Actions or contact Barry Wiestling (bwiestling@pa.gov) for information about how to set up a WIDA Secure Portal account and access this and other WIDA self-paced offerings.

In addition, each Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) region is connected to trainers who have received professional development in WIDA philosophy, tools, and resources. These trainers can support programs in need of more targeted training opportunities. You can find all available trainings within the training calendar on the PD Registry (papdregistry.org).


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