Garden Garden Unified School District program developing bilingual children at a young age

Titi Mary Tran/Nguoi-Viet English

Teacher and her students at John Murdy Elementary during their Vietnamese lesson. (Photo Courtesy: Abby Milone)

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (NV) – Madison Ly is just 4 years old, but her parents decided it’s never too young to learn a second language.

So when she started kindergarten this fall, Madison’s parents signed her up for the Vietnamese dual-language program in its inaugural year at Garden Grove Unified School District’s John A. Murdy Elementary School.

Just a few weeks into the school year, Madison already is showing progress with her Vietnamese abilities at home, said her mother, Kelly Nguyen.

“She is more reactive to her grandmother, who is babysitting her while we work,” Nguyen said. “She sings ‘kìa con bướm vàng, này, nọ (‘Oh yellow butterflies, this and that’.)

The dual-language program is being offered in two kindergarten classes with a combined 34 pupils age 4 and 5, said Marcie Griffith, the principal at Murdy.

Two teachers rotate among the two classes in what is known as the 50-50 model. One teacher teaches all day in English, the other all day in Vietnamese. One class learns in English in the morning and Vietnamese in the afternoon. The other class does the opposite.

The program is a “natural fit for us,” Griffith said, adding 72 percent of her school’s students are Vietnamese and parents and the community had expressed interest in such a program. “Everything just aligns perfectly.”

A generation ago, schools in California offered instruction in students’ native languages, particularly Spanish. In 1998, a large majority — 61.3 percent — of California voters approved Proposition 227, which required all public school instruction be conducted in English.

But in November 2016, with the passage of Proposition 58, California schools can teach in a foreign language without having to apply for a waiver, said Sara Wescott, assistant superintendent for elementary schools of the Garden Grove district.

The introduction of the program at Murdy was spearheaded by the Garden Grove school board.

“We had strong board members like Bảo Nguyễn, also ex-mayor of Garden Grove city, who liked the program and wanted to advocate for it,” said Nguyễn Quốc Lân, the current president of the Garden Grove Unified School District board of education.

Garden Grove is believed to be the second school district in Orange County, and the fourth in the nation, to offer a Vietnamese dual-language program. The trailblazer was the neighboring Westminster School District, which has offered such a program since 2015 at DeMille Elementary School.

DeMille’s principal, Shannon Villanueva, said the school now has three kindergarten, two first-grade and three second-grade classrooms to teach under the 50-50 format.

Back at Murdy, Kelly Nguyen said she likes what she has seen so far from the program.

“Before, when her bà ngoại (maternal grandmother) told her to come here (lại đây với bà), or khoanh tay chào bà (saying hello grandma or goodbye grandma while folding arms), she didn’t understand and didn’t do it. But now, she understands and she says chào bà while folding her arms. Small things like that.

“Eight years from now, I don’t know what the outcome would be, but right now the relationship between my daughter and my mother has improved.”

Báo Người Việt hoan nghênh quý vị độc giả đóng góp và trao đổi ý kiến. Chúng tôi xin quý vị theo một số quy tắc sau đây:

Tôn trọng sự thật.
Tôn trọng các quan điểm bất đồng.
Dùng ngôn ngữ lễ độ, tương kính.
Không cổ võ độc tài phản dân chủ.
Không cổ động bạo lực và óc kỳ thị.
Không vi phạm đời tư, không mạ lỵ cá nhân cũng như tập thể.

Tòa soạn sẽ từ chối đăng tải các ý kiến không theo những quy tắc trên.

Xin quý vị dùng chữ Việt có đánh dấu đầy đủ. Những thư viết không dấu có thể bị từ chối vì dễ gây hiểu lầm cho người đọc. Tòa soạn có thể hiệu đính lời văn nhưng không thay đổi ý kiến của độc giả, và sẽ không đăng các bức thư chỉ lập lại ý kiến đã nhiều người viết. Việc đăng tải các bức thư không có nghĩa báo Người Việt đồng ý với tác giả.

Gov. Brown signs series of bills to assist women, families

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NV) – California women, families and children will see expanded rights or services under a group of bills signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bills, supported by the California Legislative Women's Caucus, allow for the following: New...

Michelle Vo shot dead in Las Vegas massacre

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (NV) – Among the 59 people shot dead in the massacre Sunday night was 32-year-old Michelle Vo, an insurance agent for New York Life in Los Angeles County. In an announcement sent to Nguoi Viet News on...

Garden Grove down payment assistance program expires

Garden Grove, Calif. (NV) -- The program that helps first-time homebuyers purchase manufactured homes or for owners to renovate them has ended. The Garden Grove program has been underwritten by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The state...

Asian American businesses set to become major players in Orange County

The 7th Annual Orange County Asian Business Expo, held Tuesday, proved at least one thing: the Asian American business community in the county is thriving.

The quiet keepers of Vietnamese culture and languages

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. ― Quietly and harmoniously, they paint. There is no studio at their house. But paintings and books dictate and breathe life into their daily activities. Pencils, sketches and colors claim space at their dining table, as well...

Innovative depression-treatment program brings results in Vietnam

The World Health Organization estimates the current cost of depression and anxiety disorder costs the global economy $1 trillion each year. And every $1 invested in treatment for depression and anxiety returns $4 in terms of health and the...

A food tour of Little Saigon for first-time visitors

The rising food scene in Little Saigon in Orange County, Calif., has attracted the attention of connoisseurs and curiosity of foodies around the world. Even folks who travel to the area from Vietnam ask where to have the best...

Written in the Stars: Nguyen Tran shares culinary adventures of a lifetime in new cookbook

A decade ago, Nguyen Tran and Thi Tran were a young couple on their way to having it all. He worked in television syndication, promoting and selling independent films. She settled in at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Then,...

Little Saigon: Police seeking suspects in death of man near ATM

GARDEN GROVE, California (NV) – Police are looking for two people in connection with the shooting death of an unidentified Vietnamese man Sunday night near an ATM. Garden Grove police responded to a call about a shooting at 10:11 p.m....

Garden Grove offering program geared to first-time homebuyers

First-time homebuyers interested in purchasing a manufactured home in one of the mobile home parks within the city limits can attend a homebuyer education program on July 29.