In Orange County, 68 public schools, including charters, are teaching their students a second language. While a total of 61 Spanish dual language programs have been established throughout the region, only one Korean language academy is currently available for students.
Laguna Road Elementary School in the Fullerton School District will soon become the second Orange County school, with plans to implement a Korean Dual Language Academy in August. The program’s goals are to help students become bilingual and biliterate, achieve high levels of academic success, and increase their global awareness from a young age, according to the district.
FSD will become the second elementary district in the county to start a Korean dual language program after the Anaheim Elementary School District began one at Jefferson Elementary School in 2019.
Fullerton first launched its biliteracy program in 2016 with two Spanish dual language kindergarten classrooms at Raymond Elementary. Two years later, the program expanded to Pacific Drive Elementary, which now has one dual language classroom at each grade level.
The Korean academy will start out with a single kindergarten class at Laguna Road Elementary. One classroom teacher, working alongside their instructional assistant, will lead the students as they strengthen their understanding of both English and Korean.
While the Spanish dual language students have been instructed using the 90:10 learning model — that translates into 90 percent Spanish instruction and 10 percent English — the kindergartners entering the Korean dual language classroom will follow a 50:50 instructional model, with specific language blocks of English and Korean throughout the day.
“Fullerton School District’s Dual Language Academy is essential not only for our emergent bilingual (English learner) students but all students,” program specialist Nadia Williams said. “Students are getting an amazing education with the added benefit of becoming biliterate. We pride ourselves in offering our students a 21st-century experience which includes STEAM, robotics and the tools needed to thrive in a multicultural society.”
The district board of trustees approved the establishment of the Korean Dual Language Program at Laguna Road Elementary during its April 26 meeting.
Academies like those at FSD are made possible with the network of resources and support provided by the Literacy and Language department at the Orange County Department of Education.
Literacy and Language Program Specialist Richard Romero said the educational services unit helps to connect plurilingual education programs across school districts and keep their curriculum up-to-date in accordance with the California state standards, as well as the Global California 2030 initiative. OCDE Literacy and Language team currently assists with dual language instruction oversight in 16 school districts and two charter schools. These programs include Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Mandarin Chinese instruction.
“Our role here is to create a space where they can come together to share best practices,” Romero said. In addition to creating an open forum of dual language programs, the team also gathers and vets authentic materials from outside sources to incorporate with classroom instruction.
The bilingual classroom at Laguna Road will utilize these Korean instructional materials as well as district curriculum in both English and Korean. Williams and her team will continue to organize the Korean instructional curriculum with the class instructors throughout the summer and into the school year as necessary.
Looking forward, the district anticipates even greater student registration in the program. Williams said they will be able to fill a classroom at full capacity based on families’ interest. While educational services works on completing enrollment for 33 kindergartners, a waitlist might be in the works to add more bilingual learners.
The dual language team is always looking to expand the biliterate education opportunities they offer at FSD. Said Williams, “We will continue to expand the programs if we see a community need for more, as we did with our Spanish DLA program.”
A commitment from kindergarten through eighth grade is required for program entry. Parents can learn more about the FSD dual language academy and registration at www.fullertonsd.org.