Quyen Nguyen-Brown’s second grade class.
The Vietnamese bilingual Program at
Carmichael Elementary School began in 2009 with one class. It wasn’t
even large enough to be an exclusive program. Five years later, the
campus now offers the Vietnamese bilingual program in grades K-3.
On a recent day, students in Quyen
Nguyen-Brown’s second-grade classroom discussed topics and read aloud in
English. She delivered the lesson in English. Noticing that a student
was unclear about an assignment, Nguyen-Brown asked the student in
English if he understood. He responded with an unconvincing nod.
Nguyen-Brown then explained in Vietnamese and the student smiled before
tackling the assignment.
Nguyen-Brown recalled how the program developed.
“My first class was a split classroom
of 12 Spanish-speakers and 12 Vietnamese-speakers. The next year, I
didn’t have to split the class,” she said. “I had a full class of
students enrolled to have an exclusive Vietnamese bilingual program.”
Nguyen-Brown said the program has
really grown in the younger grade levels. This school year, there are
about two dozen students in the prekindergarten program.
Kujawa EC/Pre-K Center offers the
Vietnamese bilingual program to preschoolers. Students can continue the
Vietnamese bilingual program offered at Carmichael Elementary School. If
the student doesn’t live near Carmichael Elementary, the district will
According to Nguyen-Brown, the
Vietnamese bilingual program is a transitional program. In the early
grade levels, teachers teach in Vietnamese. But by the time the students
reach second grade, teachers give instruction in English in all the
content areas. At this stage, teachers use Vietnamese as a tool or
“We see our role as providing support
to the Vietnamese community,” said Nguyen-Brown. “The use of Vietnamese
helps students develop a better understanding of the content taught in
class. It also helps them gain a better understanding of English.”
Teaching in Vietnamese entails more
work for the teachers. But according to Nguyen-Brown, the added effort
has increased communication and understanding.
Teacher Thao Nguyen works with a student in her kindergarten class.
“There is no curriculum available in
Vietnamese nor are there many resources,” said Nguyen-Brown. “The
teachers translate and create materials and resources in Vietnamese. We
also translate letters that go home to parents.
“There is no doubt that this helps
increase parental involvement. Parents are very involved in their
children’s education. They have definitely contributed in making the
The main goals of the program are for students to succeed and transition into a regular classroom by the fourth grade.
“I’ve seen a large number of students
in the program transition successfully,” said Nguyen-Brown. “For
example, last year I had 24 students in second grade. Nineteen of these
students transitioned into the regular classroom the following year.
“I also had a student who after two
years in the program was able to successfully take the state assessments
(STAAR) in English. She passed the reading and math portions.”
Teacher Trang Le observes the work of a student in her third grade class.
Nguyen-Brown and her colleagues have
research backing the need for bilingual programs. Studies show students
in a bilingual program learn English at a faster rate. The strong
foundation in English combined with their native language facilitates
Teacher Cindy Nguyen talks with a group of her first grade students.
“The program is here to serve the
Vietnamese student population,” said Nguyen-Brown. “Parents who are new
to the country may choose the program to help their child learn the
English language. Just like the parents, we want the students to succeed
in the classroom,” said Nguyen-Brown.
This summer the campus will offer a
Vietnamese bilingual language enrichment program. This is the first year
the campus will offer a summer school program for Vietnamese bilingual
Vietnamese Bilingual Summer School Program Dates at Carmichael Elementary School
• Grades PK-K: June 9-July 1
• Grades 1-2: June 9-July 27
Parents interested in enrolling their
child in the Vietnamese bilingual program can call the campuses. The
number at Kujawa EC/Pre-K Center is (281) 878-1514. The number at
Carmichael Elementary School is (281) 878-0345.