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The following interactions and strategies from the California Preschool Curriculum Framework, Volume 1, pp. 220-221, (CDE, 2010) support dual language learners in building writing skills:

Use the child’s home language to initiate opportunities for adult- and peer- mediated conversation about writing.

    • Provide a variety of writing utensils (including letter stamps) and paper types in the writing area.
    • Ask about what the child is writing.
    • Use knowledge about the child’s level of ELD to structure questions (e.g., for children in the home language stage, ask questions in the home language).
    • Probe for clarification or elaboration that provides opportunities to reinforce English words and phrases and to build vocabulary.
    • Allow opportunities for children to discuss what they are writing with peers and adults in the classroom.

Link writing to listening and speaking so dual language learners can draw from other language strengths.

    • Include a rich selection of printed materials in the children’s home languages.
    • Provide and use wordless picture books to begin discussion in the home language and follow the discussion with related writing activities such as dictation or journal writing.
    • Allow for code-switching in dictation and other writing.

Focus writing activities on literature.

    • Use literature in the book area to begin writing activities.¬†This provides children with multiple opportunities to revisit the story multiple times.
    • Revisit children’s writing multiple times to strengthen vocabulary and concepts in both the home language and in English.

Supply learning areas with writing materials.

    • Include writing materials in all learning areas.
    • Model connecting the writing materials to the learning area (e.g., draw and title a picture of the structure made in the block area).
    • Remember that access to materials in interest areas provides opportunities for children to experiment with both oral and written language while reducing the pressure to perform.

Have children dictate their own short stories.

    • Use dictation to introduce writing as a means of description.
    • Record children’s dictation in the language in which they dictate.
    • Ask someone who speaks the home language to record the dictation.
    • Reread the child’s words, word-for-word.
    • Allow for code-switching.

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