By Renae Bryant, Executive Director of the Office of Language Acquisition at Westminster School District & Doctoral Candidate in Organizational Leadership at University of La Verne
Westminster School District (WSD) implemented the first Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program in California in Fall 2015. On the first day of school, 48 students (24 in each class) became the first Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion students at DeMille Elementary. How did Westminster School District begin implementation in September of 2014 and fill two classes one year later? The answer to that question would fill more than a short article could contain. My purpose here is to highlight what is considered a secret to our success: community partnerships. As we know, community partnerships are not only good for DLI programs, they are important for all district programs.
Most of the DLI research points to community partnerships as essential to a dual language immersion program’s success (Collier & Thomas, 2014; Hamayan, Genesee, & Cloud, 2013). The Center for Applied Linguistics’ Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education outlines this in Strand 7: Support and Resources. Principle 2: The program is supported by the families and community and Principle 4: The program advocates for support are at the heart of one of our secrets to success. WSD community partnerships are vital to the implementation of our program and its continued success. Here is a list of our WSD Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion community partners and their role in helping others think about resources and partnerships not yet considered.
WSD Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion Community Partnerships
National Resource Center for Asian Languages (NRCAL)-
Under the leadership of Dr. Natalie Tran, the center provides professional development, teacher training, Vietnamese curriculum, Vietnamese assessments, coaching, research, access to community partners, research on Vietnamese DLI programs, and more.
Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB)–Under the leadership of Dr. Huong Tran Nguyen, CSULB provides Vietnamese/English speaking student teachers for our Vietnamese DLI program, as well as pre-credential program students looking to fulfill observation hours, and SERVE (service learning) students, to name a few of their contributions.
Orange County Department of Education (OCDE)–OCDE DLI expert, Services for Language Learners Coordinator, Tracey Gaglio serves on our Dual Language Immersion Task Force. Under Ms. Gaglio’s leadership, WSD participates in monthly OCDE Dual Language Network meetings, the OCDE Dual Language Red Carpet Tour (visiting Spanish and Mandarin DLI programs in Orange County), and other activities. Ms. Gaglio advocates for the Vietnamese DLI program and OCDE and WSD partnered to offer the Pathways to Biliteracy awards, which all of our Vietnamese DLI kindergarten students earned last year.
Language School Partners
Westminster Vietnamese Language and Vietnamese Culture School–Common to the Vietnamese community are language and culture schools. WSD hosts this through the use of their facilities on Sundays, when the school uses our middle school for their Sunday weekly classes. WSD leaders also attend their yearly Tet and graduation celebrations. The Vietnamese Language Textbook Committee approved the school’s books for supplemental use for the DLI program. The language and culture school sends our Vietnamese DLI program brochures and flyers to their stakeholders to help promote the program and recruit students. The school facilitated the Vietnamese DLI program earning a $5,000 grant from the Barona Mission Indian Group through Senator Janet Nguyen’s office. Additionally, the school’s leadership appeared with us on various Vietnamese language television shows.
Association of Vietnamese Language & Culture Schools of Southern California– The Vietnamese Language Textbook Committee also approved this association’s books for supplemental use in the DLI program. Additionally, they send our Vietnamese DLI program brochures and flyers to their stakeholders to help promote the program and recruit students. Their leadership appeared with us on Vietnamese language television shows, too.
Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce (VACOC)–WSD hosted the VACOC meeting and presented the Vietnamese DLI program in May of 2015. The WSD leadership team are now VACOC members and attend monthly meetings to support stakeholders and keep them up-to-date on the program. VACOC’s philanthropic arm, Viet Foundation, donates yearly scholarships to WSD students and holds a toy drive to benefit those students in greatest need. VACOC also sends our Vietnamese DLI program brochures and flyers to their stakeholders to help promote the program and recruit students.
Advance Beauty College–Led by Tam Nguyen and family, Advance Beauty College sends our Vietnamese DLI program brochures and flyers to their stakeholders to help promote the program and recruit students. The Nguyen Family Foundation also helped by contributing to the Viet Foundation Scholarships. WSD leadership attended Advance Beauty College events, such as the grand opening of a new location.
Saigon Entertainment Television (SET)–Global, national and local Vietnamese language television provides many opportunities for us to promote the Vietnamese DLI program.
The Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California (UVSA)–WSD leadership attends the yearly Tet Festival to promote the program. UVSA donates free tickets each year to WSD students and families.
Little Saigon Tet Parade–Yearly, the Little Saigon Tet Parade hosts WSD families and students in a parade celebrating Tet, where we carry a large banner in the parade promoting our Vietnamese DLI program. Students, families and staff wear their traditional Vietnamese celebratory clothing, such as ao dai (Vietnamese long dress). WSD pays for their parade participation and sells raffle tickets to support the parade.
Westminster Public Library–Each year the public library allows us to leave DLI program brochures and flyers for community members to take and allows us to partner with them to promote the Vietnamese DLI program at the UVSA Tet Festival at the OC Fair Grounds.
City of Westminster Community Services & Recreation-This local city government organization allows us to submit DLI program articles for their Westminster Newsletter & Recreation Guide to educate the community.
This is not an exhaustive list of our partnerships, but a sample of them to help others consider
partnerships they may not have formed yet. It is important to remember that all partnerships are based on relationships and those relationships must be maintained and cannot be one-sided. WSD takes our partnerships very seriously and works hard to cultivate and maintain those relationships—another secret of our success. So, what new partnerships are you inspired to create for the benefit of your students, families, staff, program, and community?
If you want to know about our journey, join WSD leadership as we present our CABE 2017 workshop: First Year of Dual Language Immersion Implementation: Lessons Learned on Friday, March 31st from 3:15-4:30 PM at the Anaheim Marriot-Orange County IV.
Collier, V. & Thomas, W. (2014). Creating dual language schools for a transformed world: Administrators speak. Albuquerque, NM: Fuente Press.
Hamayan, E., Genesee, F. & Cloud, N. (2013). Dual language instruction: From a to z. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Howard, E. R., Sugarman, J., Christian, D., Lindholm-Leary, K. J. & Rogers, D. (2007). Guiding principles for dual language education (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.