Session 3–Effective Practices for Dual Language Learners

This session covered the basics of bilingual development and how practices in early intervention and early childhood special education can support children who are dual language learners. Participants learned new strategies when conducting special education eligibility evaluations.

The content included working with interpreters, culturally and linguistically appropriate approaches to assessment, and interpreting assessment data in more than one language. The session also described evidence-based approaches to instruction with dual language learners including strategies for adapting English language instruction and including children’s home language in intervention.

Participants also learned new approaches to collaborating with families who speak languages other than English and meaningfully teaming to support their active involvement in their child’s early education and in the special education process. There was a balance of lecture, case studies, and opportunities for role play and practice.

Session objectives

In this session, participants:

  • Learned about bilingual development and indicators of language delay
  • Learned appropriate special education evaluation practices that reduce cultural and linguistic bias
  • Learned how to interpret assessment data in more than one language and make informed decisions about a child’s need for special education services
  • Learned effective and evidence-based practices both in school-based and home-based programs when serving dual language learners in early intervention and early childhood special education programs

Intended audience

Practitioners in Early Childhood Special Education, including Speech Language Pathologists, Teachers, and Occupational Therapists

Intended skill level



Lillian DuranLillian Durán

Lillian Durán has a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon. She holds a BA in Elementary Education from Antioch College and a MA in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University. Her research focuses on improving instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs).

She is currently a Co-Principal Investigator on an IES Goal 5 measurement grant to develop a Spanish version of the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S-IGDIs) an early language and literacy general outcome measure for screening and progress monitoring in preschool. Dr. Durán frequently delivers presentations nationally on the topic of recommended practices in assessment and intervention with young DLLs with and without identified disabilities.

Prior to Dr. Durán’s work in higher education she worked for 9 years as an early childhood special education teacher both in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and in rural south central Minnesota.