Public preschools attempt to accommodate diverse languages of students
Teacher Lien Nguyen got up in front of a class of 3-year-olds and gave a lesson typical of a preschool: Where are your eyes, nose and hair?
But Nguyen did something not heard in most classrooms: She repeated each body part in Vietnamese.
Most of the class understood, as 16 of the 23 children spoke Vietnamese.
While Spanish is by far the most common language other than English in California’s publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs, they enroll children who speak a variety of languages, reflecting the pockets of ethnic communities dotting California. In Los Angeles County alone, 224 languages and dialects are spoken by children in Head Start and the California State Preschool Program.
Preschool programs are playing a key role in helping children who speak languages other than English get ready for kindergarten. More than half of students in those two programs – the largest ones statewide – speak a language other than English at home.
Vietnamese was ranked the third most common home language – behind Spanish and English – in the state preschool program in 2013-14 and is also the third most common language in K-12. Head Start lists “East Asian languages” as the third most common home language.
Many of those Vietnamese-speaking children attend preschools near Little Saigon, the largest enclave of Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam, centered in Public preschools attempt to accommodate diverse languages of students | EdSource: