Welcome to the Hmong Language Program Site!

We’re excited that you have visited this site and hope that you will find what you’re looking for.  The mission of our District’s Dual Language Immersion program is to develop career ready graduate students who are bilingual, biliterate, and culturally competent.  We strive to provide a high quality and rigorous program in support of our students, families, communities, and teachers to ensure personal and academic success for all.

Included on this site is a description and history of the Hmong Language Program as well as assessment measures, followed by icon links at the bottom of the page that will direct you to different resources for students, families, and communities.  Please feel free to leave us comments and feedback to improve this website and/or our program and services.


Fresno Unified School District’s Hmong language program consists of both elementary Dual Language Immersion (DLI) schools and high school Hmong Heritage Speakers (HHS) courses.

The elementary Hmong DLI Program at Vang Pao is a blended heritage language and one-way immersion program where most students are Hmong-American born who have lost their native language and speak primarily English.  These are students whose parents and/or grandparents immigrated to the United States under refugee status as a result of their involvement and contributions to the Vietnam War as American allies in the Secret War in Laos​ from 1960-1975.

The elementary DLI program follows a 50:50 model with a simultaneous integrated literacy approach, where students learn to read and write in both Hmong and English from Kindergarten.  While Hmong literacy instruction is more heavily embedded in Science and Social Studies and English Language Arts and Math are delivered in English, Hmong culture (as well as other cultures) are integrated into all content subjects, to the extent possible.

Hmong Native Speaker courses have been offered in Fresno Unified since the mid-1990s at several high school sites with high concentrations of Hmong student populations.  To meet the needs of current students who no longer speak Hmong as their native language, yet may have family members speaking Hmong in the home, the district transitioned those classes into Heritage Speaker courses and launched them at all of its seven comprehensive high schools, one specialized high school, and two middle schools in the fall of 2016. These courses teach Hmong literacy through a thematic approach focusing on general topics such as identity, family, daily life, school, health, and leisure activities as well as Hmong history and other cultural practices, consisting of the Secret War in Laos, refugee experience, early life in America, religion, leaders, and contemporary issues.


The Hmong DLI program was launched at Vang Pao elementary school in 2017-18 with students in grade PK, TK, Kinder and first. The second Hmong DLI site, Balderas Elementary, was launched last year, 2019-20, with students in grades PK, TK, and Kinder. Both Vang Pao and Balderas are in the Roosevelt region. DLI students will continue the program at Sequoia Middle School and Roosevelt High School. The graphic below maps out the Hmong DLI pathway design.


Recognizing that in the span of four decades (1975-2015), each successive generation of Hmong children were losing more of their native language and thereby losing connections to their home culture, elders and leaders from the Hmong community approached Fresno County school districts in 2015 and expressed a deep desire for the revitalization and nurturing of the Hmong language and culture for their children.  Simultaneously during this time, Fresno Unified began the process to revise its Master Plan for English Learners, as a local initiative to improve and expand language programs for students.  This process included voices from different communities. The District acknowledged and incorporated many of the community requests as action items into its EL Master Plan, starting with the high school Hmong Heritage Speakers I course in 2016 and Hmong Heritage Speakers II in 2017.

In the summer of 2017, Fresno Unified School District offered a Hmong Heritage Enrichment Program at four school sites for students in grades 1-4.  Community interests prompted the opening of an after-school Hmong Heritage program at two elementary sites as the District began to explore resources and a research-based model that would best meet the needs of the elementary Hmong DLI program. Both programs remain available each summer and school year.  Sites for the five weeks summer program vary based on selected schools each summer, while sites for the after-school program has been constant: Greenberg and Turner Elementary schools. 

After much study and with high community interests, Fresno Unified launched its first elementary Hmong DLI program at Vang Pao Elementary in the fall of 2018. It opened with one preschool class, two kindergartens, and one first grade.  As students move up the grades, each succeeding grade level will be added. The goal is to expand to middle school and collaborate with the local university to develop a PK-university Hmong DLI pathway. In the coming 2020-21 academic school year, the District continues to expand its DLI sites for both Spanish and Hmong.  Balderas Elementary will be the second Hmong DLI site and will open with classes for preschoolers and kindergarteners, following the same growth plan as Vang Pao Elementary.


Unlike some language programs where instructional materials and resources may be readily available, there is a limited amount in the Hmong language. This lack of Hmong resource is in part attributed to the fact that the Hmong Roman Popular Alphabet (RPA) written system was only invented in 1953, a few years prior to the start of the Vietnam War. For more than 15 years, families were always on the move to avoid getting killed or injured, resulting in constant disruptions to learning and limited educational opportunities for Hmong children.  The war era allowed no time for the development of Hmong educational materials. Even before the war, only a small number of affluent Hmong families could afford to attend schools and instruction was delivered in Laos, the state’s official language. 

Recognizing this monumental challenge, Fresno Unified School District has invested in skilled personnel to create and develop Hmong instructional materials, in addition to providing job-embedded professional learning throughout the school year and during the summer to teachers in both the elementary and high school programs.  The Hmong Language Team continues to reach out to community leaders, cultural experts, Hmong linguists, and elders in the form of a Hmong Academic Language Advisory Board to guide their work.


The success indicators for our DLI program are the three goals of Dual Language Education:​

  • Achieve grade level success in Hmong and English​
  • Develop language proficiencies in two languages​
  • Deepen cross-cultural competencies

The Hmong DLI program currently serves students in grades K-2, and the state assessment is given to students beginning in grade 3. Although there is currently no state data, local assessment results reveal Hmong students in both the elementary and secondary program outperform their counterparts not enrolled in the Hmong language program.

In collaboration with Hmong DLI teachers, the District has also established quarterly benchmarks to measure learning progress for each grade level in the areas of foundational skills, reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  As the program is in its infancy stage, targets are being adjusted at the end of each school year based on student learning each year.  Fresno Unified School District is reaching out to other districts with similar Hmong language program to establish common benchmarks, with the understanding that Fresno Unified is the only Hmong program implementing a 50:50 model.


Parent and community engagement are a critical component to student success.  In addition to gathering community input for the District’s EL Master Plan, community meetings were held with parents both at school and at community-based organization facilities. Surveys for community input were also given during the Hmong New Year in Fresno.  High school students also played a critical role in garnering signatures to support the opening of the HHS courses.  Vang Pao Elementary has held parent meetings to educate and inform the community about the dual language program as well as provided literacy workshops and cultural events for parents, in which all these are ongoing. 

Fresno Unified School District continues to put out annual surveys for feedback from students, parents, and teachers to refine and improve the Hmong language program and its services to all students.  This year, the District has formed a Taskforce with diverse stakeholders, including parents and community members, to create its first Dual Language Immersion Master Plan to ensure half of its graduating seniors become proficient in two or more languages and earn the State Seal of Biliteracy by 2030.


PBS Inside California Education: A Return to School – Learning the Hmong Language
Minnesota Educators Visit District’s First of its Kind Hmong Language Pathway Programs as Model


AAPI Heritage Month spotlight: Fresno Unified commits to helping preserve Hmong language, culture 

Hmong is a ‘dying’ language – but it’s being preserved at this Fresno school

Additional Information


Click on the options below to access resources in Hmong

Hmong Language Program Contacts

​​Doua Vu
Manager II, Hmong Language Immersion Program, Multilingual/Multicultural Education

Phone: (559) 457-3968 

Email: doua.vu@fresnounified.org

Zer Lee
Hmong Dual Immersion TSA
English Learner Services Department, FUSD

Phone: 559-457-3971

Email: zer.lee@fresnounified.org

Thae Xiong
Hmong Dual Immersion TSA
English Learner Services Department, FUSD

Email: thae.xiong@fresnounified.o​rg​

​Sasah Xiong
Afterschool ​Hmong Lead Teacher
English Learner Services Department, FUSD

Email: sasah.xiong@fresnounified.org

Back to top