11) How can I build my capacity to serve Multilingual Learners? 

By exploring this website, you are on the path to building knowledge and skills for serving Multilingual Learners (MLs). As you do this, you will build more confidence that you can meet these children where they are and help build their skills. In addition to learning and exploring the strategies in the website, ongoing professional learning is critical for helping to ensure that you can implement them effectively. In fact, the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, released in 2020, highlights workforce development and enhancing educator competencies for serving ML children as a key goal to improving education for all. This learning is best achieved through consistent, sustained, and local job-embedded professional development opportunities that are driven by data reflecting where children are and where they need to go.49

For Teachers: Professional development should help you…

  • Build knowledge of dual language development and promoting an asset-based view of linguistic diversity. This includes building knowledge about:
    • ML language acquisition
    • Evidence-based instructional strategies
    • Building relationships with ML children
    • Cultural competence, diversity, asset-based instruction, and inclusion
    • Developing partnerships and engaging with ML families
  • Learn instructional strategies in context (through modeling in the classroom, exemplar videos, lesson plans, etc.).
  • Engage in opportunities for feedback and reflection of your own practice with a coach, instructional leader, or master teacher.
  • Develop self-reflection skills on your own by seeking out assessment tools and checklists.
  • Collaborate with other teachers (e.g., through professional learning communities) to learn, discuss, and reflect on practice.


For Leadership: As a school administrator, it is critical for you to…

  • Build your own understanding of dual language development, supporting ML children, and an asset-based view of linguistic diversity.
  • Learn how to support teachers in implementing strategies in the classroom.
  • Create a site-wide culture that values dual language learning and the engagement of families to support dual language learning.
  • Articulate the site’s language and learning goals for ML children.
  • Establish a program-wide approach to meet language and learning goals for ML children and ensure there is clarity among all staff and other school partners about the research-based language program model in use (check out Head Start’s Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center resources on Planned Language Approach for ideas on how to do this in your program).
  • Give teachers access to coaches to help them plan and use new teaching strategies.
  • Ensure that system-level approaches and instructional practices align with state-wide policies that support ML children (e.g., guiding principles of the California English Learner Roadmap).
  • Give teachers additional supports such as: 
    • Support for teachers to participate in professional development (e.g., paid time for PD outside of the classroom, substitute support, embedded support). 
    • Opportunities for teachers who speak a language other than English to receive PD (or additional support) in their preferred language.
    • Supports for teaching assistants and paraprofessionals.
    • Classroom materials connected to the content in a variety of languages.
    • Translation and interpretation support, such as community members, advocates, and learning tools. 

Allison Shelley for EDUimages

Additional Professional Development programs

Here are some Professional Development (PD) programs and resources that you can check out to learn more about how to build you and your team’s capacity to serve MLs:

CA DLL PD Project at California State University Channel Islands

This site describes an innovative DLL professional development program for the California Early Childhood Workforce. The site describes the components of the PD program, as well as links to some helpful resources, including a book list and other recommended resources.

CABE’s Dual Language Teacher Academy (DLTA)

This 8-module program (2 English and 6 Spanish), will prepare DL educators with higher levels of academic Spanish and effective DL pedagogical knowledge and practices.

California Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN)

CPIN provides a number of professional topics and training sessions, including one dedicated to English Language Development (ELD). Check their menu of Professional Learning opportunities to learn more about what is covered in the ELD training.

Age Level

Preschool & TK

Preschool & TK

Personalized Oral Language Learning Strategies, from the Language Learning Project (LLP)

The LLP project provides a free, online toolkit that explains how to implement Personalized Oral Language Learning (POLL) strategies (based on current dual language research) into the classroom, with video and picture examples of the strategies. It also provides brief foundational professional development training sessions.

Age Level


Project GLAD® (Guided Language Acquisition Design) National Training Center

A professional development organization that provides training (grades P–12) in language acquisition and literacy. Trainings provide teachers with practical tools and strategies for how to implement the GLAD® model to promote academic language and literacy.

Age Level

Preschool & Elementary

Preschool & Elementary

Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL)

A research-based program that provides professional development, curriculum support, and technical assistance to give educators and school systems the knowledge they need to provide high-quality education to all MLs.

Age Level

Preschool & Elementary

Preschool & Elementary

Young Multilingual Learners Program at SRI Education

The Young Multilingual Learners Program at SRI Education focuses on enhancing educators’ mindset and skillset to effectively incorporate children’s home life experiences, cultural background, home languages, interests, and strengths. It provides professional development, advising, and technical assistance, and engages in research and evaluation for programs serving children from birth to age eight.

Age Level


Insights from the Field in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual and hybrid learning has increased. While there is little research on effective practices for virtual instruction for young MLs, there are some considerations and lessons learned from the field for adapting practices to a virtual environment, including:

  • Focus on developing relationships with families and supporting the role of caregivers as partners in learning activities. 
  • Devise robust plans for communicating with and collaborating with families. 
  • Support parents with technology and virtual platforms. 
  • Help parents understand this is an optimal time for them to promote the use of the home language. 
  • Provide culturally responsive and trauma-informed support to families, recognizing the added stress the pandemic and virtual learning can have. 
  • Deliver online virtual learning at times convenient for families’ schedules and needs. 
  • Identify ML-specific strategies that are most relevant and appropriate for virtual delivery. 
  • Emphasize oral language development: make sure DLLs/ELs have opportunities to use language, particularly during synchronous learning periods.
  • Provide small group and individual learning opportunities virtually. 
  • When planning, consider if an adult is required to be present for the learning activities provided.
  • Deliver PD virtually to allow for flexibility and access for educators. 
Great Tips

Strategies are interrelated

Individual strategies across the different instructional topics are interconnected and should be implemented together, in a purposeful and connected manner throughout instruction, and not in isolation. Make sure to also consider your classroom or school’s language model when implementing the strategies and adapt accordingly.

Visit how to use this site >

Language Learners - Family Engagment - Multilingual Learners Toolkit
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