An inside look at WIDA Early Years eLearning

December 7, 2020

A benefit of WIDA Early Years membership is the ability to provide statewide access to eLearning modules, webinars, and downloadable resources. These professional learning offerings provide valuable information to help build awareness, knowledge and skills around supporting young multilingual children in early care and education (ECE) settings. Multilingual children are culturally and linguistically diverse children, ages birth to five 5 years, who are learning two or more languages. They are exposed to multiple languages in their homes, communities, and/or early care and education settings, and they develop and use language in dynamic ways. In the field, these children are commonly referred to as dual language learners, or DLLs.

ECE professionals in WIDA Early Years member states have access to these eLearning resources and can complete them at their own pace. Some states offer ECE professionals credit through state registries for completing the modules included in WIDA Early Years eLearning. This article highlights the content covered in each offering.

WIDA Early Years eLearning Module: Dual Language Learners and their Families

Do you provide care and instruction to young multilingual children, or dual language learners (DLLs)? DLLs have unique needs and experiences as they learn and develop two or more languages. Engaging with families of multilingual children is essential to providing them equitable and high-quality early learning experiences.

This module explores the strengths and resources that multilingual children and their families bring to ECE programs. High-quality programs create a welcoming environment and reciprocal relationships with families. For multilingual children and families, they also encourage and support the use of home language. ECE professionals will gain essential background information about DLLs and their families in ECE settings. This module addresses the following five topics and objectives: 

  1. Who Are DLLs: Define the term “dual language learner,” list factors that impact DLLs’ rate of English language development, and outline the developmental sequence of English language development for DLLs. 
  2. Benefits of Bilingualism: Identify the impact of bilingualism on DLLs’ approaches to learning, social-emotional, cognitive, early language, and literacy development.
  3. The Importance of Home Language and Culture: Examine the importance of home language and culture in DLLs’ development; identify ways to support home language and culture at home and in the classroom.
  4. DLLs and their Families are Valuable Resources: Illustrate ways that three families serve as resources in an ECE setting; explain the importance and focus of a language policy and introduces the WIDA Can Do Philosophy.
  5. Building Reciprocal Relationships: Investigate how a sample ECE program establishes a welcoming environment, gathers important information, and fosters two-way communication with families. 
WIDA Early Years eLearning Module: Early English Language Development (E-ELD) Standards Framework 

The WIDA E-ELD Standards Framework assists practitioners in identifying and intentionally planning for, supporting, and scaffolding developmentally appropriate academic language within DLLs’ sociocultural contexts. It helps practitioners effectively incorporate what they have learned about DLLs’ cultures, language development, and language use into their programs in consistent and meaningful ways. It also supports DLLs as they communicate, make meaning, and access content within various areas of development.

This module provides an overview of the foundational principles and components of the WIDA E-ELD Framework as it addresses the following five topics and objectives: 

  1. Guiding Principles and the Can Do Philosophy: Identify the ten principles of language development for DLLs in Pre-K settings. Recognize the WIDA Can Do Philosophy.
  2. Developmentally Appropriate Academic Language in Sociocultural Contexts: Define developmentally appropriate academic language. Identify DLLs' language use in sociocultural contexts.
  3. Performance Definitions: Describe the components of the E-ELD Performance Definitions. Identify the importance of and differences between code switching and translanguaging.
  4. Can Do Descriptors: Identify what DLLs can do at different levels of language development.
  5. Standards and Their Matrices: Categorize what WIDA E-ELD Standards are and are not. Identify the components of a Standards Matrix. Write a Standards Matrix.
WIDA Early Years eLearning Module: Dual Language Learners with Disabilities 

This module provides essential information for identifying and supporting the needs of multilingual children with disabilities in ECE programs. DLLs are a growing population in the United States. DLLs differ culturally, linguistically, developmentally, by age, and by ability.

ECE practitioners have a responsibility to recognize, honor, support, and advocate for the diverse needs of all DLLs. The Dual Language Learners with Disabilities module addresses the following five topics and objectives: 

  1. Who Are DLLs?: This topic describes the unique characteristics of DLLs with disabilities and relate beliefs from the field to personal experiences
  2. Factors that Influence Dual Language Development: This topic focuses on how reciprocal relationships with families support language development in the ECE setting; and identify factors that influence the language development of DLLs
  3. Ensuring Access and Opportunity: This topic outlines the process used to determine the eligibility of DLLs for special education supports and services
  4. Supporting Development and Learning: This topic identifies ways teams in high-quality ECE settings intentionally support DLLs with disabilities
  5. Promoting Success for All: This topic describes the features of an inclusive ECE program and outline ways that ECE practitioners can serve as advocates for DLLs with disabilities
WIDA Early Years eLearning Module: Scaffolding Language Learning

Practitioners in high-quality ECE settings use what they know about each child’s sociocultural contexts, family goals for language, interests, abilities, learning style, development, and purposes for language use in both the home language(s) and English to plan for both receptive and expressive language learning. Practitioners plan for learning within the environment, routines, transitions, and activities. They also plan how to scaffold and support each child’s understanding within those contexts.

The Scaffolding Language Learning module is illustrated through a classroom vignette and explores how ECE educators scaffold children’s language learning within the environment, routines, and activities.

This dynamic module provides essential background information about scaffolding language learning in ECE settings as it addresses the following four topics and objectives: 

  1. The Role of Language Development: Identify connections between early language development and other areas of development. Explain the importance of scaffolding language learning in both the home language(s) and English
  2. Purposes for Language Use: Define each purpose (Express Self, Recount, Inquire) and give an example of each purpose in an ECE setting
  3. Planning for Language Learning: Explain how practitioners in high-quality ECE settings intentionally plan to scaffold language learning; identify questions practitioners may ask themselves when planning for language-rich ECE experiences; identify sensory, graphic, and interactive language supports that scaffold children's language development
  4. Putting it All Together: identify ways to utilize the environment, curriculum, and relationships to elicit language and identify strategies that bridge home and English language development
WIDA Early Years eLearning Module: Promising Practices

This module illustrates examples of how to implement the WIDA Early Years Essential Actions. The 14 WIDA Early Years Essential Actions are research-informed guidelines for supporting dual language development through standards-based curriculum, care, instruction, and assessment in ECE settings.

The Essential Actions are a call for everyone — practitioners, families, administrators, state and community members — to take action and collaborate in supporting the language development of DLLs and affirming the resources multilingual children and their families bring to ECE programs. Lastly, the Essential Actions connect to the WIDA Standards Framework. Educators will see how the various components of the framework can be used to implement different Essential Actions. Illustrated through a series of stories in a high-quality ECE setting, this module provides suggestions for getting started with Promising Practices.

The Promising Practices module addresses the following five topics and objectives:

  1. Promising Practices for Supporting Dual Language Development: This topic defines developmentally appropriate academic language and identifies DLLs’ language use in sociocultural contexts.
  2. Practicing Promises - Kate's Story: This topic illustrates ways that adults collaborate to support dual language development as well as identifies ways that program administrators may begin using Promising Practices.
  3. Promising Practices - Anna's Story: This topic identifies ways that practitioners may begin using Promising Practices in work with children.
  4. Promising Practices - Vivian's Story: This topic identifies ways that practitioners may begin using Promising Practices to partner with families in supporting children's dual language development.
  5. Getting Started - Your Story:  This topic encourages participants to identify next steps to support their own understanding and implementation of the Essential Actions.
WIDA Early Years eLearning Webinar: Are We Ready?

Are We Ready? promotes collaboration among ECE professionals and K-3 educators and offers recommendations for supporting multilingual children and families as they transition from ECE settings to kindergarten.

These resources approach school readiness through an asset-based, equity lens and raise three key guiding questions: Is your district ready to support young multilingual children? Is your school ready? Is your staff ready?

Educators in WIDA Early Years member states can access the following Are We Ready? professional learning resources through their state’s WIDA Early Years eLearning system:

  • 30-minute online webinar that introduces key concepts and themes
  • Webinar handout with questions to guide self-reflection
  • Webinar Companion Guide that offers practical ideas and sample tools


Are you an ECE professional in a WIDA Early Years member state and want to learn more about these eLearning offerings? Explore the WIDA Early Years Member States page to see if your state has access to WIDA Early Years eLearning. 

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