Gifted English Language Learners

Texas is a wonderfully diverse state where more than 30 languages are spoken. Approximately 34% of Texas residents speak a language other than English. Of that group, 85% speak Spanish. A linguistically diverse gifted student is a child or youth who has the characteristics of gifted students with the potential for high achievement, whose primary language is one other than English, and whose English language skills are such that the student has difficulty performing ordinary classwork in English.


Barriers to Identification

Gifted English Learners are sometimes overlooked during the identification process. Among the barriers to identification are:

  • Gifted English Learners may exhibit characteristics that are different from their native English speaking peers
  • Children who are less than fluent in English are sometimes incorrectly viewed as having lower cognitive (thinking) abilities than their fluent English speaking peers
  • Language differences often coincide with cultural differences

Source: Annenberg Institute for School Reform, 2013 

Access to Services

As we promote for equitable identification, it is important for us to understand issues that may arise in access to information and services.

General Characteristics

Parents and family members have a unique ability to observe a child’s characteristics, abilities, and attitudes across many different environments. Although there is no single assessment of giftedness, there are certain characteristics shared by many gifted learners. Below is a list of some general traits to watch for if you believe your child might be in need of gifted services. Keep in mind that not every gifted learner will display every one of these characteristics, and giftedness may manifest itself through traits not listed below.

  • Grasps concepts quickly and easily
  • Becomes frustrated with other children who do not grasp concepts as easily
  • Is more sensitive to colors, sounds, beauty, injustice, and/or emotions than peers
  • Prefers talking to adults over talking to age peers
  • Is unusually curious
  • Is able to concentrate on a topic of interest for long periods of time
  • Has the sense of humor normally expected of someone much older

Web Resources

The following are some websites that offer free resources, strategies, and tips for helping your child succeed in school.


The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) is an assessment program for students in Texas public schools who are learning the English language. The Texas Education Agency developed TELPAS to meet state and federal testing requirements. Texas assesses English language learners annually in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students learning the English language begin participating in TELPAS in kindergarten and stop participating when their language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC) determines that they are proficient in the English language.

Teachers and other educators use TELPAS to help them plan effective instruction for children. It is a measure of how well children are learning English and is not used to assign grades.

Related Resources


District Service Options

Districts have a variety of models to provide G/T services. It is important to note that Districts may offer one or more of these options. It is important to be familiar with your rights and know the expectations of the modes of delivery. Your child will be provided their services for acceleration and enrichment through these models. Take a look at the following district approved service options and questions that you are able to ask to advocate for your child.

District Service Options  - View Resource