California's Gold | An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners

Capitalizing on California’s Diversity Today, for a Brighter Tomorrow

A child’s early years of life are marked by an incredible capacity for growth and learning. For the majority of California’s young children, this potential is magnified by their linguistic and cultural diversity. California’s Gold opens a dialogue on how best to support dual language learners in the early years.

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This framework opens a dialogue about how to integrate preschool with the early primary grades and improve DLL/EL education. It marks an opportunity for improvement in early childhood education on behalf of Dual Language Learners (DLLs), and encourages new state policy developments seeking to advance the education of older English language learners.

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As the state continues to advance early childhood education, the unique characteristics of DLLs including their emerging bilingualism and their cultural strengths need to be integrated into our policies and practices. DLLs make up one in four children in the state’s TK-12 system, and 60 percent of California’s children age birth to five live in a household where a language other than English is spoken. If adequately supported, DLLs will make valuable contributions to the state’s multicultural identity, and its economy. If their language and culture are not nurtured in these early years, the state not only risks losing potential social and economic benefits from DLLs’ bilingualism but also also imperils children’s future prospects as they fall behind their monolingual peers in and out of the classroom.

About the Author

Marlene Zepeda is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. A former preschool and elementary school teacher, Dr. Zepeda has done extensive work on the dual language learning of Spanish-speaking preschool children and child development in Latino infants and toddlers.

This report and the associated web materials were funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

To cite this work, please use: Zepeda, M. (2017, November 13). California’s Gold: An Advocacy Framework for Young Dual Language Learners. Retrieved from

Key Areas for Action

California’s Gold elevates four areas for action that are critical to a high-quality PreK-3rd grade system. If attended to, these areas could significantly advance the education of DLLs and strengthen the state's early learning system.
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    Workforce Development
    A strong workforce of teachers and administrators responsive to the unique learning needs of DLLs.
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    Curriculum & Instruction
    Curricular and instructional models and resources attuned to the diverse learning needs of DLLs.
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    Assessment approaches that more accurately depict and measure how DLLs are learning.
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    An Aligned PreK-3 System
    An integrated early childhood and TK-12 system that recognizes the importance of continuity and coherence with the early childhood period and that meets the needs of DLLs.
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