First Vietnamese dual language immersion program in the state promotes students

Westminster School District Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion Program
Families, educators and Westminster School District staff displayed their support for DeMille Elementary School students during their promotion event.

Near the heart of the Little Saigon business district and in a county that has the largest concentration of Vietnamese people outside of Southeast Asia, a dual language immersion program continues to thrive with hundreds of students learning Vietnamese and English in multiple class subjects.

DeMille Elementary School was the pioneer site, becoming the first public school in the state to offer Vietnamese as a dual language program. The Westminster School District campus created the program seven years ago with two kindergarten classes. The program has since expanded to 18 classes with 350 students between kindergarten through sixth grade levels.

“It has been my pleasure and honor working in the dual language immersion program and teaching Vietnamese,” said Teacher Huong Dang.

Westminster School District students
Sixth graders from DeMille Elementary pose for photos with their parents.

This June, the program reached a milestone when it promoted the first cohort of students to middle school. These students were kindergarteners in 2015.

Native English speakers and Vietnamese speakers who complete the program from kindergarten through sixth grade are expected to possess strong reading and writing skills in both languages. The students will earn the Pathways to Biliteracy Awards at third, fifth and eighth grades. The district’s hope is students will go on to high school, pass the advanced placement test and earn their Seal of Biliteracy on their diploma.

Over the years, the district has also added Spanish as part of its dual language program at Willmore Elementary, helping students in maintaining their heritage language, and becoming bilingual or trilingual.

“We are thankful to our current and past leaders who had the vision for implementing this unique program,” Westminster School District Superintendent Dr. Cyndi Paik said. “From board members, administrators to teachers, who supported and contributed to this great program that prepares students for college and career.”

The Spanish program will promote its first cohort to middle school after the next school year.

To learn more about the program, click here or call 714-894-7911.