Becker Elementary has one of the oldest and most successful Two-Way Dual Language programs in the district. In all grades, children study in English and Spanish, and teachers are well-trained in dual language methodologies. In 2018-19, Becker will be an AISD Dual Language Hub School.
What is Dual Language?
Dual Language is an educational model in which both native English speakers and native second language, for example Spanish, speakers receive instruction together in both languages, which results in higher academic achievement, improved acquisition of English, the development of academic Spanish, for example, and cross-cultural understanding for all students. Language learning takes place primarily through the instruction of academic subject matter. Linguistic proficiency in both languages is developed as students increase their knowledge of subject matter through performing academic tasks.

Classes are taught exclusively in the designated language of instruction. There is no translation or repeated lessons. Native English speakers and English Language Learners learn a second language together with no stigma attached. Dual Language students develop a high academic and linguistic proficiency in two languages by participating in an academic program that enhances the development of bilingualism, biculturalism, and bi-literacy so that students will graduate ready for college, career, and life in a globally competitive economy.

This approach allows English learners to help native English speakers learn through a second language, while native English speakers help English learners acquire the curriculum through English. As most teachers know, one of the best ways to learn is to teach, and both student groups receive accelerated instructional benefits from their other-language peers and from the teacher’s use of collaborative learning strategies that capitalize on this effect. Also, learning together increases student interest in the school and curriculum topics, improving student motivation to learn and further amplifying and accelerating student progress.

Where is Dual Language?

AISD implements the Dual Language model in several elementary schools, middle schools, and two high schools in the District. Dual Language programs are found in many parts of the United States.

Why Dual Language?
  • Positive School Culture: Collier and Thomas discovered that the effectiveness of Dual Language education extends beyond academic outcomes. The entire school community benefits when multiple languages and cultural heritages are validated and respected. Friendships bridge class and language barriers. Teachers report higher levels of job satisfaction. Parents from both language groups participate more actively in schools.
  • Brain Benefits: Cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok has studied bilingualism for almost 40 years. She recently told the New York Times that people who regularly use two languages tend to perform better on executive function tasks and maintain better cognitive functioning with age. Bilingualism is also associated with a five to six-year delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms after diagnosis.
  • Happy Kids: Six-year-old Kyra is a first grader who loves her Dual Language Spanish-English program. “It’s really fun because your brain gets to work with two different languages, and your tongue gets to do two different sounds,” she told the L.A. Times.
  • Academic Benefits: DL has been proven to develop bilingualism, bi-literacy and high academic achievement in all children. Research demonstrates the long-term advantages of a DL education for both native Spanish and native English speakers if begun early in their academic careers. Notably, all students outperform native English speakers not in a Dual Language program in English language reading tests.
Who benefits from Dual Language?
The English-speaking child . . .

  • Performs as well, or better, than peers in English-only programs
  • Gains competency in a second language, both reading/writing and speaking/listening
  • Ability to talk to more of the world´s communities
  • Greater job opportunities
  • Greater understanding of diversity and acceptance of cultural differences
  • Additional cognitive benefits
  • Better mathematics problem-solver
  • Richer vocabularies
  • Enhanced meta-linguistic awareness
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Greater analytical thinking

The Spanish-speaking child . . .

  • Develops and builds upon the primary language
  • Primary language becomes a classroom asset
  • Academic support
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Gains positive academic identity
  • Maintains mother tongue
  • Builds family connections
  • Performs better than peers in English-only or other bilingual programs
  • Gains competency in a second language, both reading/writing and speaking/listening
  • Ability to talk to more of the world´s communities
  • Greater job opportunities
  • Greater understanding of diversity and acceptance of cultural differences
  • Additional cognitive benefits
  • Better mathematics problem-solver
  • Richer vocabularies
  • Enhanced meta-linguistic awareness
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Greater analytical thinking
How to do Dual Language?
The Dual Language program can vary from school to school. In many schools, only the One-Way Dual Language Model is offered. In other schools, only the Two-Way Dual Language Model is offered. In some schools, both models are offered.

AISD initially based its Dual Language program on the Gómez & Gómez model, but as the program has been implemented in many schools, an AISD model has developed. In the 2015-16 school year, some elementary schools in the District began to use an adapted model and four middle schools offered a Dual Language program for the first time.

For the 2014-15 academic year, Becker started Dual Language classes for Pre-K through 5th grades.  Students from throughout Austin Independent School District are welcome to become part of Becker’s exceptional Dual Language program.  Becker’s outstanding program and vibrant community have drawn numerous transfer families from throughout Austin, as well as families from within the neighborhood.

Instructional Model at Becker in 2014-15 to Present Day

  • Reading and Language Arts
    • Pre-K, K, and 1st grade – In Spanish only for Spanish speakers and in English primarily with some Spanish for English speakers
    • Grades 1 through grade 5 – In both languages for all students
  • Mathematics
    • Pre-K through grade 5 – In English
  • Science & Social Studies
    • Pre-K through grade 5 – in Spanish
  • Language of the Day: The language spoken within the school during non-instructional time (in the hallways, in the cafeteria, during morning announcements) alternates between Spanish and English to provide additional reinforcement for language acquisition.
  • Language Pairs: Seat Spanish and English speakers together
  • Bilingual Learning Centers and Bilingual Research Centers

By the end of 5th grade, all children are academically bilingual: able to speak, read, write, and think in both languages.

Additional Resources
AISD information on Dual Language

Articles on Bilingualism and Dual Language Programs

Books about Dual Language

  • Diary of a Bilingual School (2012), by Sharon A. Reyes & James Crawford
  • Educating English Learners for a Transformed World (2009), by Virginia P. Collier & Wayne P. Thomas
  • Dual Language Education for a Transformed World (2012), by Wayne P. Thomas & Virginia P. Collier
  • Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning (2004), by P. H. Johnston (Good book for parents interested in how you can use your language to position your child as a competent bilingual, thus encouraging him/her to take on a bilingual identity.)
  • Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Bilingualism (2007), by C. Baker (This book is great for the basics of bilingual development and bilingual theory.)
  • Teaching and Learning in Two Languages: Bilingualism & Schooling in the United States (2005), by E. E. Garcia (For readers interested in understanding the context of bilingual education in the United States and important issues in the future.)

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