On a mid-May morning, KYCC’s Kids Town teacher Hisu Chung drew a clown beetle with a big black marker for her rapt preschool classroom. “Good morning, Ecologists!” she called out to the students, as she wrote down the names of the beetle’s body parts. Down the hall, Assistant Teacher Alondra Meza is making hand gestures, imitating the tunneling of a gopher. This schoolwide lesson on “Soil Dwellers,” includes pictorials, comparisons, gestures and songs rich in vocabulary and information for the pre-K set.
Recognizing the importance of a multilingual education, KYCC’s Kids Town implemented the Preschool GLAD—Guided Language Acquisition Design—curriculum this spring. This model introduces research-based strategies to create language-rich and cross-cultural learning in preschool English learners, and provides the groundwork for a dual language program.
“Pre-GLAD provides an excellent platform on which to overlay a dual language immersion program because of its focus on language development,” says Dr. Janet S. Oh, professor of psychology at California State University, Northridge. “Kids Town children will learn two, maybe three, languages through the language-rich learning setting of the Pre-GLAD curriculum.”
Oh met this spring with Kids Town parents to demystify dual language programs and address preconceived concerns, such as language delays and heritage language loss.
More than 60 percent of Los Angeles County speaks a language other than English at home, according to the Census Reporter. Originally intending to create a dual language program, Kids Town staff realized they needed a foundation in language acquisition to build a multilingual model.
As children learn better in song or visual formats, Pre-GLAD provides lessons and strategies for teachers to be more creative in helping children absorb information. The lessons are also cross-curricular, so the “Soil Dweller” theme extends to making play dough worms at the “Art Center” and reading about pill bugs during Reading Time. Teachers are reporting that parents and children are enthusiastic and talking about the new lessons at home and in the classroom.
“We’re seeing excitement on all levels—from the teachers to the students and families,” says Nayon Kang, KYCC Assistant Director of Children and Family Services. “A conscious language acquisition curriculum helps students become more prepared for college, as well as more socially adaptable.”
Kids Town started the curriculum, which was funded by the Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation, with a multi-tiered Pre-GLAD training in February and March before it was implemented this May. Once Pre-GLAD is established, Kids Town will assess the school demographic and adapt the curriculum to a Korean-English and Spanish-English bilingual program for the 2017-18 school year.