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Travis Heights Elementary School PTA > Dual Language at THES

Dual Language at THES

What is the Dual Language (“DL”) program?

The Two-Way Dual Language model aims to ensure students become bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural starting in the early years of school where children are best primed for language learning and readily open to other cultural experiences.  Research shows long-term cognitive and academic gains for children who receive bilingual/biliterate education starting in early elementary school years.  Being bicultural allows our children to learn skills that ready them to become “Citizens of the World”, as they are better able to understand, communicate, and relate to those of different cultural backgrounds.  

What does this look like at Travis Heights Elementary School?

At Travis Heights Elementary School,each grade level at THES has one or more Dual Language classrooms.  Children enrolled in the program come from families committed to keeping their child enrolled in the DL program throughout elementary school.  Parents are expected to be active participants in their child’s learning of their new language by exposing them to literature, music, and other enriching experiences of the non-native culture.

Our Dual Language teachers have attended training with biliteracy experts, Cheryl Urow of the Center for Teaching for Biliteracy and with Dr. Kathy Escamilla of Literacy Squared.  These training programs are based on research that shows that biliteracy is best achieved when students become literate in both their native and non-native languages simultaneously. This simultaneity of instruction is planned, purposeful and includes a focus on bridging content instruction between the two languages by identifying cognates and similarities in the languages.     Additionally, some of our teachers utilize Total Physical Response Instruction (TPR) where words in the non-native are paired with physical actions to aid in comprehension.  

How does language instruction work throughout the school day?

Because we live in an English dominant society, it is hard to achieve similar levels of exposure to English and Spanish language for our DL students.  To correct this imbalance, THES is moving to a DL model where students in lower grades receive the majority of their content instruction in Spanish. As they move up through the grades, the percentage of instruction moves to 50% in each language.

Austin ISD Option 3

80/20 DL with Simultaneous Literacy with Increased Spanish

Language Arts
Grade Time/Language
PreK-K 80% Spanish / 20% English Language Development
Gr. 1-2 75% Spanish / 25% English Language Development
Gr. 3 65% Spanish / 35% English Language Development
Gr. 4 60% Spanish / 40% English Language Development
Gr. 5 50% Spanish / 50% English Language Development
Math / Science / Social Studies
PreK-1 Math 50% English / 50% Spanish
Science Spanish
Social Studies Spanish
2-5 Math

2 weeks Spanish/2 weeks English

Social Studies


Special Areas (Art, Music, P.E.) – Instruction is in English

Library & Computer Lab – Instruction is in English

**Note that this summary may vary slightly depending on teacher, composition of the classroom, and grade-level.

The Dual Language Program requires separate registration.  For more information on the registration process and deadlines, go to AISD DL Enrollment