Oregon State University logo

Strength in diversity

New book offers toolbox of strategies for young dual language learners


Photo by Daiga Ellaby

Teachers of young dual language learners (DLLs) have a new resource – “45 Strategies That Support Dual Language Learners” – to help their students recognize diversity as a strength.

College of Public Health and Human Sciences Assistant Professor of Practice and Parenting Education Specialist Shauna Tominey co-authored the book with Elisabeth O’Bryon, co-founder and head of research at the Family Engagement Lab in Oakland, Calif. Human Development and Family Sciences alumna Guadalupe Diaz, PhD ’17, wrote the book’s forward.

“This book is a teacher-friendly guide with practical tips and strategies to support dual language learners in early childhood classrooms,” Shauna says. “The strategies celebrate diversity with an aim to help all children and families benefit from the strengths they bring to their school and community.”

Both authors grew up in multicultural families, which influenced and shaped their professional careers. They met at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and worked together developing Preschool RULER, a social-emotional learning program. They soon recognized that teachers struggled to implement interventions with non-English speaking students. Spanish translations were provided, but it became apparent that translations were not enough and many teachers wanted more ideas for effectively supporting DLLs.

The book is a result of that desire. Teachers and other care providers can use these strategies as a guidebook when working with DLLs. Brookes Publishing Company’s blog, The Inclusion Lab, featured a recent post outlining some of the strategies from the book focused on helping young learners gain an appreciation of other cultures, values and beliefs. They include:

  • Choose classroom themes that celebrate diversity.
  • Help children verbally share things that make them special.
  • Have open conversations about stereotypes and biases.
  • Teach children that it’s okay to ask questions.
  • Respect and empathize with all children.

Readers will also learn how to:

  • Set up and organize the learning environment to support DLLs.
  • Strengthen early academic skills and social-emotional learning for DLLs.
  • Partner with families and engage them in their child’s learning.

“We hope the book will provide teachers with hands-on ideas for building relationships with diverse families and create early childhood learning environments that recognize and celebrate diversity,” Shauna says.