TALLK provides preschool teachers training and coaching in specific strategies for interacting with children of English learners to support language acquisition. The project aims to support language development among preschoolers in their home language and English, recognizing that skills learned in both languages will support the children’s literacy development.
According to Jenn Guerrero, English learner program coordinator for the Sonoma County Office of Education, TALLK is based on the research-demonstrated best practice of providing adult education through a combination of information sharing followed by coaching.
“In California, 57 percent of children birth through age 5 live in a household where English is not the primary language,” she says. “The TALLK Project provides our Early Childhood Education educators with the tools and strategies needed to effectively meet the needs of these Dual Language Learners in our preschools.”
Guererro adds that through the generosity of the JJF, TALLK was able to train close to 25 coaches from across the state of California, thereby enhancing language acquisition for 250-300 preschoolers.
Participation in TALLK begins with a one-day orientation session introducing participants to resources used throughout the year. Then, over the course of the school year, a bilingual coach provides one-on-one sessions with teachers, on-site monthly staff training, periodic check-in meetings, and individualized support.
TALLK awards $200 stipends to each participant who completes the program.
TALLK coaches also offer parent workshops at each project site, emphasizing school readiness and strategies for building a language-rich environment at home. Guererro says these workshops have a dual purpose — educating parents and training preschool staff to provide parent training on their own.