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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fostering Second Language Development in Young Children: Principles and Practices


More than one fifth of American school-age children come from families in which languages other than English are spoken (McDonnell & Hill, 1993). Many children from such families are limited in their English proficiency. During the last decade, the number of school children with limited proficiency in English grew two and a half times faster than regular school enrollment (August & Hakuta, 1993). Given these changes in classroom demographics, it is imperative that all teachers have knowledge about second language development and instructional strategies for developing language proficiency.

This report sets down some guidelines for teaching these children. It summarizes principles and practices that can be derived from current thinking and research in the field of second language acquisition and culturally sensitive instruction.

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