Sub-domain: English Language Learners

The English Language Learners sub-domain covers goal sixty-four of the Idaho Early Learning Guidelines. 

Using this guide

Scroll down to see the age group you are most interested in. Click on the goal to learn more about the goal's:

  • developmental growth
  • child indicators
  • caregiver strategies

There is an option to download the information at the end of each goal. When you click the link you will be brought to a new page where you can download the goal as a PDF.  

Family sitting in park in the fall

0 - 8 Months

Goal 64 Note: This goal statement only applies to children whose home language is not English. Children must continue to grow and progress in their home language while learning another language.

Developmental Growth: Initiate and respond to differences in sounds including intonation.

Child Indicators: Attends to spoken sounds. Communicates needs through vocalization, gestures, facial expressions, and actions.

Caregiver Strategies: Talk to child in both languages, but not in the same sentence. Choose bilingual books to read and toys to play with. Use tone to communicate meaning (e.g., “No.”  “You’re so cute!”). Sing songs to child in both languages.

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6 - 18 Months

Goal 64 Note: This goal statement only applies to children whose home language is not English. Children must continue to grow and progress in their home language while learning another language.

Developmental Growth: Demonstrate varying competency in learning English depending on age, onset, and amount of language exposure.  Continues to develop communication skills in home language.

Child Indicators: Responds to familiar words in home language. Responds to simple voice commands and labeling in two languages. Communicates needs in one- to two-word phrases in home language. Uses eight to ten understandable words in home language and may not possess any words in the English vocabulary. Communicates needs through single-word speech in home language and through facial expression, gestures, or actions (points to desired object) if attempting to communicate in English.

Caregiver Strategies: Connect child to other native speakers, especially other children. Greet child in their home language and learn some words and phrases in the child’s home language.Read bilingual books on a regular basis. Encourage child to use words in both languages. When presenting child with words in English, present them in groups (animal names) and within a context. Help child link English vocabulary to real-life experiences by using pictures, objects, places, and events. Continue to use home language with child to build a strong home language base. Play music from the child’s home culture and in the home language, as well as English.

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Children benefit cognitively from learning two or more languages.

16 - 38 Months

Goal 64 Note: This goal statement only applies to children whose home language is not English. Children must continue to grow and progress in their home language while learning another language.

Developmental Growth: Demonstrate varying competency in learning English depending on age, onset, and amount of language exposure.  Continues to develop vocabulary and fluency in home language

Child Indicators: Often uses sounds from home language when speaking in English. Has a larger receptive and expressive vocabulary in home language. Uses increased expressive and receptive English vocabulary. May exhibit a period of silence before a language surge. Follows simple verbal direction in home language and attempts to make sense of a direction given in English when accompanied by a non-verbal gesture (signal for come here). Often uses sounds from home language when speaking in English (e.g., Spanish “v” may be pronounced like “b” so Spanish- speaking child might say “bery” for “very”). Has a larger vocabulary in home language and is beginning to acquire an English vocabulary. Recalls words from simple songs in home language and recognizes words from songs in English. Asks simple questions in home language and uses gestures or single words to ask questions in English. Occasionally inserts words from home language while speaking in English.

Caregiver Strategies: Create a positive environment that values children’s language and culture.Greet child in their home language and learn some words and phrases in the child’s home language.Encourage parents of second language learners to support home language expansion and expression. Consistently provide, if possible, adults in the environment who speak the child’s home language.Read books in native language with supplemental reading in English. Speak English in ways that help English Language Learners (ELL) to understand (simple sentences, repetition, and use of gestures). Rephrase or expand child’s speech. When telling a story, substitute a couple of words with words from the child’s native language.

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36 - 60 Months

Goal 64 Note: This goal statement only applies to children whose home language is not English. Children must continue to grow and progress in their home language while learning another language.

Developmental Growth: Demonstrate varying competency in learning English depending on age, onset, and amount of language exposure.  Communicates with purpose to convey information and uses phrases and sentences with more complex vocabulary in home language.

Child Indicators: Recalls words from simple songs in home language and recognizes words from songs in English. Occasionally inserts words from home language while speaking English. Demonstrates understanding that there are languages other than the home language (identifies sentence spoken in home language in comparison to one spoken in English). Relies on non-verbal cues to communicate in English but does not rely on non-verbal cues to communicate in home language. Focuses on the meaning of words rather than grammar in acquiring spoken English language competency. Follows linguistic rules of home language and constructs own rules for English. Uses sentences in home language and begins to use single word or telegraphic speech in English to communicate. A bilingual child adjusts language and communication form used according to person with whom he/she is speaking or place where he/she is at.

Caregiver Strategies: Create a positive environment that values children’s language and culture.  Allow child to use their home language to communicate.Greet child in their home language and learn some words and phrases in the child’s home language.Provide opportunities to bring the home language into school settings. Provide picture books in child’s native language and in English. Teach school concepts in both languages. Teach songs and finger plays in child’s native language and in English. Provide opportunities for child to share words from home language with other children. Encourage the use of English in school by providing a safe, responsive audience. Model new concepts with pictures and actions paired with English words. Provide a lot of repetition when introducing new concepts.  Emphasize key words and phrases.Help child develop reasoning skills through use of home language. Devise strategies that build a home-school collaboration to reinforce home language competency and promote learning English. Identify and explain patterns in errors of spoken English to help child acquire language competency (Note:  do not correct child but guide child by example). Model positive vocabulary learning strategies (reading cues from the context). Help native, English-speaking children understand the English language learner’s speech and vocabulary. Establish a consistent daily routine that promotes a sense of security

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Children who learn two languages from birth operate with two separate language systems and it is typical that they may mix words from the two languages in the same sentence for a short time.

60 Months - Kindergarten

Goal 64 Note: This goal statement only applies to children whose home language is not English. Children must continue to grow and progress in their home language while learning another language.

Developmental Growth:  Demonstrate varying competency in learning English depending on age, onset, and amount of language exposure.  Uses appropriate forms of communication for a variety of purposes in home language; vocabulary continues to increase.

Child Indicators: Recognizes the difference between words spoken in home language and words spoken in English. Exhibits a gap between conversational language and instructional language. Makes consistent grammatical errors (mans for men). Begins to understand that non- family adults and peers may not understand home language. Follows multi-step directions in home language and single-step directions in English. Demonstrates understanding of words used in the home language that are different from English. Re-tells a simple story told in the home language but may only be able to re-tell a few words from a story told in English.

Caregiver Strategies: Create a positive environment that values child’s language. Allow child to use their home language to communicate. Greet child in their home language and learn some words and phrases in the child’s home language.Provide opportunities for child to acquire competency in home language and English. Use books in English that have repetition and are predictable. When teaching new concepts, simplify sentences and emphasize key words and phrases.Use home language alongside English in activities (counting to 10, talking about the weather, reciting the alphabet, naming colors). Provide opportunities for child to share words from home language with other children. Provide an environment of acceptance that supports and respects the home language by bringing the home language to settings. Provide opportunities for child to practice communicating in English through natural and meaningful conversation. Develop a plan for child’s continued use of the home language and acquisition of English.

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