SPASH Hmong Heritage Language Class

This is a picture of the 7th hour Hmong Heritage Language class.

Blai Day Yang

This is a picture of the 7th hour Hmong Heritage Language class.

Blai Day Yang, Hour 5B

Hmong Heritage Language is for students who are interested in their heritage language. To not only learn about the history, but to write, speak, read, be proud of who they are as a Hmong person, and to learn about their culture. Last year, a former ESL teacher at SPASH, Mrs. Marchant, spoke with Hmong students about their interest and concern about their heritage language and noticed there is a growing need for such a class. She proposed this to the School Board and got approved. Now Ms. Vang, a teacher at Roosevelt Elementary and also a teacher here at SPASH, teaches the new Hmong Heritage Language class.

SPASH students enrolled in this class for many reasons. William Yang, Aselica Yang, and Hanzo Moua, all juniors at SPASH, took this class to learn and improve their skills based on different things. For example, William talked about not wanting to talk to his parents about the Hmong history. So he took this class to learn more about who, where, when, and how the Hmong people were. Just like William, some students who took this class wanted to learn more about the history of the Hmoob people along with their culture. Not only did they want to learn about the Secret War, but about how we became Hmong people. Aselica said “I want to understand my language better, to be able to pronounce the Hmong words and to be able to say it correctly,” Similarly to Hanzo, students want to learn about the Hmong language and culture.

The Secret War is a war that happened back in 1962-1975. The Secret War started because of a disagreement between communists and democrats. The Vietnam War spread into Laos and the United States wanted the Hmoob involved with this to stop the spread of communism. Many young boys at the age of 11 were dragged to fight. The Hmong were led by General Vang Pao, they were also trained for only three days. Many Hmong people were killed during this war.

Hmong students in this class are taught to be proud of who they are and to be proud of being Hmong. In this class, students learn about identity. Of who they are as a person and to be proud of who they were born as. Ms. Vang said “Most importantly, I want my students to learn about themselves and their identity within their communities,”

Students in this class learn how to write, speak, read and understand words. Hanzo said one of his favorite things learned in this class was the 8-tonal marks. Also known as, mus(go), koj(you), kuv(I/me/my), niam(mother), neeg(human/person), siab(high/heart), zoo(good/nice), tod(there). They are to help make sure you’re writing words and speaking words correctly. Many students are good at pronouncing words or spelling, and maybe even reading, but they still struggle here and there, especially with more difficult words. Some students want to pronounce the words correctly and use the correct tonal marks. Aselica, William, and Hanzo all had learned many new words they can actually pronounce, read, and possibly spell. Ms. Vang said, “I want to teach my students to read, write, and speak Hmong more fluently.”

These students have learned many things and they want to learn more to have better knowledge and understanding. Although the Hmong history of ancestors can be myths, legends, or actual history, many students like William and Aselica said they really enjoy learning about the history of the ancestors and about Txiv Yawg. Txiv Yawg, who is possibly the Hmong’s very first king, who had led the Hmoob at the very beginning, but with no proof, there isn’t a right or wrong. Similar to William, some students still want to learn about history. The history of who the Hmong people really were before the war and of who Txiv Yawg really is.

Overall, this new class is really helpful to the SPASH Hmong students who want to learn more about their culture, along with learning how to pronounce words, write, and read.