Feb. 13, 2020 — A statewide dual-language learning project launched by CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Associate Professor of Early Childhood Studies Carola Oliva-Olson, Ph.D., received an additional $700,000 in funding.

The $700,000 is supplemental funding from the California Department of Education, in support of a project entitled “Dual-Language Learning Professional Development for the California Early Childhood Workforce.”

The latest grant is in addition to a $1.1 million grant the project received in January. The additional $700,000 will allow Oliva-Olson and her team to expand the project, which is designed to offer professional development for educators and administrators who want to learn how to incorporate dual-language learning into early childhood education.

“This grant trains the teachers and the leaders and the coaches who are currently working in early childhood programs,” Oliva-Olson said. “It’s professional development for those who work with infants and pre-schoolers. They can learn the best ways to serve children who are dual-language learners.”

About 60% of California children ages birth through five live in a household where a language other than English is spoken, making California home to the nation’s largest number of children learning English in addition to their home language.

Carola Oliva-OlsonWith the help of the project’s co-director, Early Childhood Education lecturer Mari Estrada, Ph.D., Oliva-Olson is creating an online training model for teachers, coaches and other educational leaders currently working with children birth through age five anywhere in -California. The first grant allowed Estrada and Oliva-Olson to offer 12 cohorts, but now they can enhance and expand their reach.

“This supplemental grant will allow us to teach seven more cohorts of professional faculty in both English and Spanish,” Oliva-Olson said. “We will invite Early Childhood faculty at CSUCI and at community colleges to participate. We’re going to offer a specialized class for administrators who will get graduate credit. It will be for administrators in all leadership positions.”

The classes are largely online, with some a blend of online and face-to-face courses, and some completely face-to-face.

One of the face-to-face classes will be taught in the Madera/Fresno area, where there is a large contingent of children who speak Spanish and the Southeastern Asian language Hmong. 

Blended and face-to-face classes will also be available in Oxnard and the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, which is a diverse region where many different languages are spoken, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Research shows that 90% of the brain is developed in the first five years of life, so it is a window of opportunity to develop critical language and literacy skills, Oliva-Olson said. Dual-language learning allows a child to develop a facility with language that will serve that child throughout life.

“We invest in a multilingual population so our state can compete nationally and internationally in a way we have not taken full advantage of,” Oliva-Olson said. “This is a social and economic investment.”

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