All young children learn about the meaning and structure of language in the first four years, and children can learn multiple languages in these early years. In early childhood education, dual language learners (DLLs) are young children who learn to speak more than one language before the age of 5, for example, learning to speak both English and Spanish. This entry describes who DLLs are, the advantages and challenges faced by DLLs, the process of early language development, and known supports for DLLs’ development.

Characteristics of Dual Language Learners

In the United States, more than 15% of children grow up in homes where a language other than English is spoken. The majority of DLLs in the United States live in Spanish-speaking homes in the West and South, ...

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