PIONERAS (Professional Improvement through Optimization of Native-language Education and the Realization of Academic/familial Symbiosis)

Texas Woman's University
Academic Level
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Bilingual /ESL,


The mission of PIONERAS is to improve language and literacy skills and the academic achievement of Spanish dominant Emergent Bilinguals (EBs) in Dual Language (DL) classrooms in North Texas. In improving EBs' academic achievement, PIONERAS’s main goal is to improve the proficiency and content pedagogy in Spanish of 42 pre-service undergraduate bilingual education teachers.

Program Description

PIONERAS operationalizes its mission and goals by serving both undergraduate and graduate students through four components: (1) University coursework focused on educational practices, bilingualism, and second language acquisition delivered fully in Spanish (five courses for undergraduates and three for graduates), (2) A study abroad program in Central America including advanced Spanish courses, teaching experience in country, and university coursework, (3) The possibility for graduate students to receive additional scholarships for a full graduate degree, and (4) Collaborative mentorship between undergraduate and graduate students. All of these supports, including mentorship, tailored coursework, and intense academic language in Spanish, ensure the success of our teachers. All PIONERAS undergraduate and graduate students receive full scholarships for the program, as well as specialized tutoring and assistance including free workshops designed to support their coursework and testing. Using the Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test (BTLPT) to measure changes in Spanish language skills for PIONERAS program participants, pre to post-intervention percentage change comparison showed a statistically significant increase of these teachers’ overall level of academic Spanish in years with available data.


  • Pre to post-intervention percentage change comparison showed a statistically significant improvement of these participants’ writing and oral skills in years with available data. Statistically significant improvement in their reading and listening skills was also shown in Year 2018-2019.
  • All students (100%) completed a series of three specially designed undergraduate courses taught in Spanish.
  • Compared to non-PIONERAS students, PIONERAS students' mean score in the BTLPT was higher or equal in all years with available data. Their TExES scores were equal to non-PIONERAS' in the year 2019- 2020.
  • In academic years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, 100% of students completed a 3-week summer study abroad program including two TWU undergraduate pedagogy courses required for certification and an intensive Spanish language course.

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