Supporting Positive Language and Literacy Development in Young Language Minority Children: Research, Policy, and Practice: Roundtable Meeting, 2008

Project Overview

The Language Minority Roundtable was a working meeting where invited participants engaged in critical dialogue regarding how research can support efforts of policymakers and practitioners to serve the language and literacy needs of young language minority children (i.e., birth to 5 years of age)1. The central goal of the meeting was to gain a better understanding of how available research can or cannot presently inform policy and practitioner concerns. The present report highlights key research issues and questions that arose from the roundtable meeting on the topic of how research can support positive language and literacy outcomes for young language minority children. The roundtable discussions, held in Washington DC in April 2008, were unique in that they highlighted research issues specific to the needs of programming and policy audiences. Several federal agencies and prominent researchers in the field assisted in planning the content of the meeting. In addition, many efforts were made to ensure that the voices of stakeholders outside the academy were included in the proceedings, which greatly enriched and enlivened the discussions. To this end, half of the attendees at the roundtable consisted of scholars from various institutions (about 40 total), while the other half comprised directors and practitioners in early childhood programs and federal representatives.

1In the U.S., the term “language minority children” refers to children from families in which the primary language spoken at home is not English. The term encompasses dual language learners (DLLs) and other terms frequently used, such as bilingual, limited English proficient (LEP), English language learners (ELL), English learners, children who speak a language other than English (LOTE), and children for whom English is a second language (ESL). The reader will note the many terms used for language minority children and families that appear throughout this document, reflecting that no real consensus exists in terms of how to refer to this specific population comprised of many populations in the U.S. who share one common characteristic—speaking a language other than English. For more information regarding HHS definitions and resources pertaining to language minorities, or LEPs, see HHS’ website ( For more information regarding OHS definitions and resources pertaining to DLLs, see OHS’ Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center ( (back)

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