MIDWAY CITY  (CBSLA.com) —  An Orange County kindergarten class is the first in the state of California to take part in a Vietnamese – English language immersion program.

Don’t tell Sarah Palin — the former Governor of Alaska recently said that people who live in the United States “should speak American.”

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She meant, English, of course and that is precisely what these Kindergarten students will do — but not entirely.

CBS2’s Michele Gile reports on how the class being held at the Demille Elementary School could help the students in the future.

Learning the “Happy Birthday” song in Vietnamese is just one way the students are immersing themselves in two worlds and two cultures.

The 5 and 6-year-olds are the first in the state enrolled in the program.

The school is located in a community near Little Saigon, a business district which is the largest in the world for the Vietnamese outside of Vietnam.

A third of the students are native English speakers.

“We are backed up by research,” says teacher Huong Dang, “that the children can get more than one language, even two or three ,when they are exposed to it, and their brain will work to wire, connect those, in grammar, vocabulary together.”

The students spend half the day learning the basics — like colors and days of the week — in Vietnamese. Then they switch to English with another teacher for the second half of the day.

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Zoey Diep is enrolled in the class. Her father, Tac, sees the immediate benefits.

“In the long run,” he says, “She will have more resources speaking a second language. And she will find a job, better for her.”

Next year, Gile reports the program will expand to include first graders, as well.






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