Soy Bilingüe

Soy Bilingüe is a family of dual language culturally democratic approaches to education and community development created by the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy.
These include:

Soy Bilingüe Definition of Dual Language Early Childhood Education

Unconditional love for all children, respect for cultural diversity, the cultivation of cultural expression and creativity, family collaboration, a commitment to fairness and undoing bias, a child-centered and socially oriented approach, documentation and accountability to learning, and specialized skills in first and second language and literacy development are the building blocks for Dual Language Early Childhood Education. It is an act of love enriched with a belief that children are born to be happy and all children can learn. It is grounded in educational equity and teacher reflection.

The Dual Language ECE classroom has a posted language plan specifying the main two languages being used with and taught to all children (i.e. Vietnamese and English), any other languages from the children and families of that classroom that will be validated (i.e., Somali and Spanish), the model that will be used for organizing language usage (i.e. Teacher-Based Model or Time-Based Model), literacy approaches for both languages, and strategies for assessing first and second language development. Children are supported to reject rejection instead of internalizing negative messages about their skin color, cultural background, and home languages. They are guided in their emerging critical thinking, identification of fairness and bias, social emotional development, and cross-cultural collaboration.

The Dual Language ECE classroom environment has labels of the learning areas and key items in both languages, often with a different color used for each language to support children in distinguishing between the written text. The cultural backgrounds of the children can be seen in all of the learning areas of the room. The children can see themselves represented in posters, photographs, books, and puzzles. Pictures of the children and their families are found through out the room and reception areas. The teachers build authentic and meaningful relationships with each child and family; observe and get to know each child; respond to and interact with children regarding their interests; pose questions and converse with children; and build learning opportunities related to the children’s interests, community happenings, and cultural expressions. Dual Language Early Childhood Education provides a safe and nurturing cultural nest for children to actively participate in cultural transmission in their home culture as well as have an authentic and valuable experience learning about the language and cultural background of another cultural community.

Soy Bilingüe: Language, Culture, and Young Latino Children

Soy Bilingue CoverSoy Bilingüe: Language, Culture, and Young Latino Children, a collaborative effort between Carmen Sosa Massó and Sharon Cronin, speaks to the heart of the work of the bilingual or dual language early childhood educator. On one hand it chronicles the over 50 years of combined experience of the two authors. On the other hand, this original Soy Bilingüe book challenges and inspires parents, teachers, and educational leaders to imagine the kinds of rich linguistically and culturally responsive educational environments and experiences they would like to provide for the children in their community. Soy Bilingüe provides a rich, authentic, and culturally grounded overview to the field of dual language early childhood education, and although it is specifically geared to Spanish-English dual language classrooms, the content of the book has inspired and supported many other language combinations, including most recently indigenous language trilingual preschools. Please see the forward for the book written by mentor Dr. Antonia Darder.

For more information about the book contact: To purchase a copy of the book, visit our Publications page.

Soy Bilingüe Seminar

SB SeminarThe Soy Bilingüe Seminar is designed to provide a framework for teaching children whose primary language is one other than English as well as teaching a second language to English speaking children. It covers relevant theoretical and practical information related to bilingual early childhood and elementary education methods with a goal of the development of cultural competence and respect for learners growing up in a bilingual world. The emphasis is on the development of a language plan, selecting options for organizing language usage (time, schedule, teacher, or classroom based models), and responding to the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of children and their families in curriculum planning. The natural process of acculturation (or cultural transmission) through song-games will be a central component of this class. Participants will learn various Latino folkloric dances, songs, song-games, finger-plays, lullabies, and rhythms. Expect regular demonstrations, high-level interactions, and opportunities to practice in simulations, presentations, and role-plays.

Language Plan: The Soy Bilingüe Seminar provides a demonstration of the adult dual language model developed by the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy. Half the seminar will be taught in Spanish and half will be taught in English. Simultaneous translation will be provided as needed and participants will be supported in understanding instruction in their second language without the need of translation. Approximately half the participants will be Spanish dominant and half will be English dominant. Speakers of other languages are also welcome. [Note: CLCD welcomes requests to use the seminar approach with other language groups and would work in collaboration to prepare the appropriate seminar activities, workbook, and other materials.]

Participants learn how to:

  • Respond to the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of children
  • Support first and second language development
  • Work with the children’s natural language acquisition processes
  • Work collaboratively with families and communities
  • Set language fluency goals and write a language plan for your program
  • Use the cultural arts in curriculum planning and language development
  • Address early literacy in the children’s first and second languages
  • Apply theory and research in bilingual studies

For more information or to schedule a seminar contact:

Soy Bilingüe Preschool Accreditation

The Soy Bilingüe Dual Language Preschool Classroom Accreditation is a strengths-based process for observing, documenting, and recognizing the work of dual language and language responsive classrooms under the leadership and guidance of the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy. The classroom teaching team, in collaboration with the Soy Bilingüe Accreditor, will put together a portfolio addressing the 100 items of the Soy Bilingüe Preschool Assessment Tool. In order to participate, the classroom teachers must be in well-developed dual language, multilingual, or language responsive classrooms and have completed the following five CLCD seminars: (1) Soy Bilingüe Seminar, (2) Theater of the Oppressed Seminar, (3) Play, Language, Culture, and Literacy; (4) Pedagogía: Teaching in Dual Language, Multilingual, and Culturally Diverse Settings; and (5) Dual Language ECE Practicum. CLCD offers one or two of these seminars each quarter or an organization can schedule one or the series of these seminars onsite. There are two options for the accreditation: (1) Dual Language or Multilingual Classrooms and (2) Linguistically and Culturally Responsive Classrooms. The accreditation is good for three years and can be renewed with a refresher seminar and updated portfolio. For more information on how to obtain your accreditation, contact

Soy Bilingüe Professional Certificate

CLCD offers a 12 seminar professional certificate for those who want to specialize in dual language early childhood education. It can be obtained through coursework at collaborating colleges or through CLCD seminars. Organizations can schedule one or a series of these seminars onsite.

Soy Bilingüe Professional Certificate Seminars:

  • Soy Bilingüe Seminar
  • Theater of the Oppressed
  • Human Development and Learning
  • Imagination and Cultural Expression with Young Children
  • Conscientization: Reading the World
  • Working with Families
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Play, Language, Culture, and Literacy
  • Culturally Relevant Anti-Bias Approaches to Education
  • Working with Children with Disabilities
  • Pedagogía: Teaching in Dual Language, Multilingual, and Culturally Diverse Settings.
  • Dual Language Practicum

Soy Bilingüe Leadership Certificate

CLCD also offers an 8 seminar professional certificate for college instructors, coaches, and educational leaders who want to specialize in dual language early childhood education. It can be obtained through coursework at collaborating colleges or through CLCD seminars. Organizations can schedule one or a series of these seminars onsite.

Soy Bilingüe Leadership Certificate Seminars

  • Soy Bilingüe Seminar
  • Theater of the Oppressed
  • Imagination and Cultural Expression with Young Children
  • Conscientization: Reading the World
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Scaffolding Academic Writing
  • Adult Dual Language Methodology
  • Adult Dual Language Practicum

The Soy Bilingüe Curriculum

The Soy Bilingüe Curriculum is a community oriented, child-centered dual language approach to working with young children. Born out of Antonia Darder’s cultural democracy theoretical framework and Geneva Gay’s culturally responsive teaching, this curriculum is inline with brain research on children’s first and second language development; social and emotional research on the importance of attachment and positive interaction; and research on early literacy, cross-cultural communication, and critical thinking. After participating in the five day Soy Bilingüe seminar and by using the Soy Bilingüe: Language, Culture, and Young Children (Cronin & Sosa Massó, 2004) book as a guide, many preschool teachers in Washington, Oregon, and California have been using the Soy Bilingüe Curriculum to successfully support their children’s bilingual, bicultural, and tri-literacy development for over 15 years.

In celebration of this work, the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy recently published the Soy Bilingüe Curriculum: A Photo Essay of Socially Oriented Child-Centered Dual Language Early Childhood Education (by Sharon Cronin, Theressa Lenear, and Carmen Sosa Massó with Carlos Imani, Photographer). The Soy Bilingüe Curriculum provides teachers, parents, and educational leaders with guidance in creating linguistically and culturally relevant dual language preschool classrooms. Using photography and shared strategies, this curriculum book inspires, guides, and challenges early childhood educators and leaders in creating vibrant, child-centered, and culturally democratic learning communities for young children.

Take a peak at the Table of Contents. To purchase the Soy Bilingüe Curriculum and other CLCD publications, visit our Publications page.

The Soy Bilingüe Preschool Assessment Tool (100-Item Tool)

The Soy Bilingüe Preschool Assessment Tool was developed out of the work of CLCD teachers, faculty, and coaches in high quality dual language preschool classrooms. It began as a list generated when Sharon Cronin was asked to come visit preschool programs whose teachers and educational leaders had attended a Soy Bilingüe Seminar and were excited to share how they were implementing the ideas and get feedback. Sharon would search for and notice all the strengths of the classroom related to the content of the Soy Bilingüe Seminar; over time this list began to be duplicated when observing various centers. She typed them up and used them as a guide when going to do observations. Over the years, and with feedback from many colleagues and CLCD team members, the tool was created (in particular, we would like to salute the following colleagues for their contributions and feedback:  Zoobie Waqar, Bobi Céspedes, Theressa Lenear, Noemí Teófilo Rivera, Carmen Sosa Massó, Cam Do Wong, Luz Casio, Man Wai Chiu, Carrol Ann Leonard Perry, María Luisa Aguilera, Chavely Cherena, Martha Díaz, Deborah Le, Daren Chamberlin, Yinghong Pu, María Aguilar, Yadira Medina, Deanna Hickey, Karina Rojas, Bahiya Selah, Suzanne Pool, Kathy Aye, Aiqun Zhong, and Cheing Chin Saeteurn).

The Soy Bilingüe Preschool Assessment is the central tool used in the Soy Bilingüe Dual Language Preschool Classroom Accreditation, which is a strengths-based process for observing, documenting, and recognizing the work of dual language and language responsive classrooms.

The 100 items are dividing into five parts: (1) Parent and Community Collaboration, (2) Linguistically and Culturally Relevant Environment, (3) Interactions during Schedule Components, (4) Child Nurturing and Guidance, and (5) Assessment and Planning. Before having the tool used in a classroom, teachers are given an extensive overview of the tool, how it is administered, what it measures, and why it is important. Teachers are then given the opportunity to make adjustments to their classroom before the tool is used. The focus is on how to support teachers in addressing the 100 items in ways that are pertinent and relevant for their classroom and community.

There is a Spanish-English version and a Chinese-English version of the Soy Bilingüe Assessment Tool. Take a look at the first ten items of the assessment tool. For more information on the assessment tool, contact: To purchase a copy of the assessment tool, visit our Publications page.

The Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language (ADL) Model

The Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language (ADL) Model was developed by the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Democracy over a fifteen-year period. Although it initially was developed with primarily Latino, African American, and European American adult learners who work with young children, it has also been used with other dual language learning communities. The Soy Bilingüe ADL Model provides a process and framework for establishing linguistically responsive and culturally relevant learning communities for new language groups interested in providing dual language approaches to adult learners (particularly early childhood professionals). The core pedagogical components of the Soy Bilingüe ADL Model include: (1) Language and Literacy Development, (2) Collaboration and Community Building, (3) Cultural Relevancy and Active Teaching, (4) Imagination and Cultural Expression, (5) Bicultural Voice and Cross-Cultural Competency, (6) Critical Thinking and Conscientization, and (7) Coaching and Accountability.

All the components work interchangeably. Students develop skills, knowledge, and experience for working with young children and their families. Cultural art forms (song, music, dance, poetry, crafts, murals, beadwork, photography, film, culinary arts, and theater) are used as a mechanism for connecting learning with the students’ prior learning and life experiences. Students learn how the use of cultural arts can help to address and apply theories related to the multiple intelligences and learning styles in their curriculum planning and teaching. Cohorts of students study together for approximately three or four years. The development of a strong, collaborative learning community among the students of each cohort enables (1) the bicultural development of students of color, (2) the cross-cultural or cultural competency development of European American students, (3) the critical thinking skills of all participants, and (4) the cross-cultural solidarity and collaboration among all groups. One of the first steps along this process is supporting the students’ emerging conscientization or ability to read the power dynamics present in their lives and worlds. Students share stories from, reflect on, discuss, and analyze their life experiences and their experiences as learners and teachers.

Language usage is organized around a 50/50 1/2-day alternating model. This means that for each class, Spanish is used for half the time and English is used half the time. The language that is used first for the day alternates day by day. Students are pushed to use Spanish during Spanish language time and English during English language time. Students are encouraged to take risks and try out their emerging second language development during small or large group discussions. Translation equipment is used initially to stimulate deep level thinking and rigorous academic exchange between the two language groups. The use of translation is steadily decreased with the goal of students fully participating in both the Spanish and English time blocks without the need for translation by the third year. Students study together in collaborative cohorts of 32-40 students over a three-year period in team-taught classes. Approximately half the participants are Spanish dominant and half are English dominant. Speakers of other languages are also welcome. Spanish dominant and English dominant students are matched for classroom activities and work outside of class as bilingual buddies (language partners). Each member of the pair is charged with the task of supporting the second language development of their bilingual buddy.

The teaching approach is called active because (1) there is usually movement and activity (not just passive listening); (2) there is time for students to talk, interact, share, and contribute; (3) the instructor has carefully planned out the activities and teaching strategies; (4) the instructor is actively engaging, leading, or guiding; and (5) there is room in the curriculum for students to see the strength of their own ideas as well as the strength of the ideas of their classmates. Challenging and pressing issues and problems found in the communities of the participants are examined. The students’ own lived experiences and culture, as well as that of the children and families with whom they work, are used as legitimate, central topics for course content and class discussions. The expectations for learning and success are held high by faculty and administrators. Problems and obstacles are examined and addressed. Students study and work together to overcome barriers and challenges to accessing college learning and degrees.

Faculty, staff, students, and administrators work toward establishing a sense of cultural democracy in the classes, student activities, work environment, and administration. Instructors actively invite and include all students in the class dialogue. Students are provided with a practical framework from which they can practice addressing various forms of individual and institutional discrimination and oppression. The courses have established a “shifted center” from eurocentricism to multiculturalism and cultural democracy; the bicultural and critical thinking voices of all the students are supported to develop. Programs using the Soy Bilingüe Adult Dual Language Model actively validate all languages and cultures. All languages including regional variations, Spanglish, and Ebonics are viewed as equally valid means of communicating. Instead of replacing or minimizing the language that students bring to the class, academic Spanish and academic English are viewed and presented as being soundly added to the students’ language background. In each class, the power dynamics at work and the needs of students related to addressing internalized oppression, internalized racism, and white privilege are monitored and addressed. The program holds and communicates high expectations for the learning of all students. Students are prepared with theory, critical analysis, and skills to prepare young children for academic success and to address the educational gap for bilingual students, low income students, and students of color in the United States.

For more information on the Adult Dual Language Model, contact: To purchase a copy of the book, visit our Publications page.