ECS Professor Wins Grant to Improve Learning Outcomes for Dual Language Learners

October 31, 2022


Early Childhood Studies (ECS) Assistant Professor Soon Young Jang has been awarded over $62,000 by the Dr. Seuss Foundation to develop a wide range of bilingual books and resources to support bilingualism and biliteracy among Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and their families. 

Based on a report by First 5 California, about 60 percent of children from ages zero to five live in a household where they are learning two or more languages at the same time. According to Jang, this can present language development and learning issues.  

“Most DLLs experience a linguistic gap between home and educational programs because the education field is predominantly English-only monolingual,” said Jang. “Such gaps greatly affect children’s language and literacy, social and emotional development, and academic achievement.” 

In an effort to strengthen bilingual and biliteracy development, Jang and co-PI Associate Professor Giselle Navarro-Cruz will work with ECS students, Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers, Heritage Language (HL) teachers, as well as multilingual children and their families, to develop bilingual books and resources.  

“Students who are taking ECS 3600 with me will have an opportunity to develop bilingual books, songs, chants and literacy strategies for this project,” said Jang. “They will also share these materials with children and families through the campus library’s Children’s Story Time. Additionally, next year, we will offer workshops to ECE teachers to discuss the importance of bilingualism and we will work collaboratively with them to create bilingual resources.”

Jang, a longtime children’s advocate, developed a passion for supporting DLLs as an immigrant mother and a former early childhood educator. Her research interests include bilingualism, biliteracy, heritage language learning, translanguaging, language policy and practice, and peer mentorship through communities of practice.

She joined Cal Poly Pomona in 2020 after serving as a post-doctoral fellow at Thompson Rivers University, where she managed a project that explored the experiences of ECE teachers in the field and how peer-mentorship, along with professional development, enhanced their practice and teacher efficacy. 

She earned her doctorate in language and literacies education from the University of Toronto, where she conducted research on how translanguaging can be utilized as a means to reduce the linguistic and cultural gap between home, ethnic community and school.

She has also published a number of articles on bilingual education in several peer-reviewed journals including Language and Education, the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, the Journal of Early Childhood Research, the McGill Journal of Education, and Early Years.  

For more information about this project, contact sjang@cpp.edu.