Garden Grove school district will be second in county to offer Vietnamese immersion program when classes start Wednesday – Orange County Register

Garden Grove Unified School District will be the second in Orange County to offer a Vietnamese dual language immersion program, when the school year starts Wednesday, Aug. 30.

“We want students to be bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate,” said Sara Wescott, the district’s assistant superintendent of elementary education.

Students in the pre-kindergarten program will be taught a half-day in English and the other half in Vietnamese. The program is meant to strengthen students’ ties to the Vietnamese culture. It’s arrival comes after a years-long lobbying effort from members of the Vietnamese community who have said the program also would increase students’ cognitive ability.

“We want students to be proficient in the diversity of our community,” said Luisa Rogers, the district’s director of English-learner programs.

Wescott estimates that 25 to 50 transitional kindergarten students — those who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 — at John Murdy Elementary School will be enrolled.

The program aims to align its Vietnamese instruction with its English education, creating a comparable track, said Natalie Tran, director of the National Resource Center for Asian Languages at Cal State Fullerton who has been helping the district develop the curriculum.

“We are kind of mapping backward,” Tran said.

Tran said the center has gathered resources from the Vietnamese community and produced children’s books, which Wescott said have been reviewed by community members.

Rogers said she hopes poetry, songs, literature, visual arts and family events will enhance the students’ understanding of the Vietnamese culture.

The district’s Vietnamese community started lobbying for a program in 2013, with then-GGUSD trustee Bao Nguyen’s petition gathering more than 1,200 signatures. The petition sought to create the county’s and the state’s first Vietnamese dual immersion program by fall 2014.

Wescott said the district started conducting its…

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