Look no further than Garden Grove to find a melting pot of students.

With that in mind, three schools in the Garden Grove Unified School District are immersing children as young as four years old in dual language programs.

“I’m learning a lot of stuff,” said Lorelai Jun, who is just six.

Lorelai is a first grader at Murdy Elementary School. She’s half-Korean and half-Vietnamese, and children like her are learning Vietnamese while mastering English.  

“I get to learn Vietnamese just like my Ba,” said Lorelai.

“Ba” means grandmother in Vietnamese. Up until entering the program, Lorelai was communicating with her grandmother in English.

“For a lot of our children, speaking Vietnamese bridges that generational gap and allows them to communicate and make personal and cultural connections.”

Garden Grove students study Spanish (Vicky Nguyen)
Garden Grove students study Spanish (Vicky Nguyen)

Children who are already speaking two languages at home are also included of the program. Research shows students in dual immersion programs have higher levels of self-esteem, better grades and test scores. 

Four miles away, teachers at Russell Elementary have been instructing their students in English and Spanish when it comes to all school subjects.

Teachers like Karla Sturtz who taught at Russell before the school adopted the program are noticing higher participation rates and engagement with her students.

“They can communicate in full sentences. They’re already saying things like I agree, I disagree. I’m just so excited to see them grow throughout the year,” said Karla Sturtz, a teacher at Russell Elementary School.

The third school in the district that is part of the program is Monroe Elementary.

Students there have been incorporating Spanish into their lessons. While the program is free, it can be competitive to be accepted. Some parents transferred their students to these three schools to take advantage of the programs.

For more information on Garden Grove's dual education program, click here.