Fresno Unified awarded $1 million grant to expand dual language program

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- What may look like an ordinary daycare center or preschool filled with students in Fresno actually has several children that know two languages.

Fresno's Unified Early Learning Center created the blueprint for The Language Learning Project.

"The main focus of the project is to ensure our students, young dual-language learners, are acquiring a strong foundation of skills in both their home language as well as in English upon entering kindergarten," said Maria Ceballos, Program Manager.

She oversees five sites in the Fresno area that have students of all ages enrolled, from infants to those in preschool.

The Language Learning Project recently received a $1 million grant from California's Department of Education.

"It will provide professional development for the early learning teachers where they learn very concrete strategies and take them back into the classroom and they begin implementing them on how they support the dual language learners," she said.

Ceballos added that the grant will also help expand the project outside of Fresno Unified into two other communities.

The two primary languages at this site in southwest Fresno are Spanish and Hmong but Ceballos said training will be provided in a variety of languages.

"If it is a monolingual English speaking teacher, the strategies they are learning through the professional development training will be able to support them and support the dual-language learners," said Ceballos.

The Language Learning Project began in 2015 with the help of local funds but Ceballos gives credit to parents who are involved.

Many participate with the program inside the classroom.

"One of the things that we have noticed from our community is that a lot of our young families are worried about their child losing their home language. It is part of their identity, it is part of who they are," she said.
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