Acknowledgements1. Language and Identity1.1. What Is a Speech Community?1.2. Coercive vs. Collaborative Relations1.3. Language Minority Stories2. Who Are English Learners?2.1. Reflection Model2.2. Inclusive Pedagogy2.2. Makoto Critical Incident2.3. Assumptions to Rethink about English Learners2.4. Critical Learning Domains3. Understanding Theory3.1. Communication, Pattern, and Variability 3.2. Five Curriculum Guidelines3.3. Indicators of Instructional Conversation (IC)3.4. Indicators of the Standards for Effective Pedagogy3.5. Standards for Effective Pedagogy3.6. Examining Current Realities4. Input4.1. Input and Native Language Acquisition4.2. Input and Second Language Acquisition4.3. The Interdependence Hypothesis4.4. The Threshold Hypothesis4.5. Vocabulary Development and Language Transfer4.6. Text Modification5. Interaction5.1. Code Switching and Interaction5.2. Characteristics of Modifications for Interaction5.3. How Can Teachers Help Second Language Learners Begin to Communicate?5.4. Classroom Routines and Participation Structures5.5. We Can Talk: Cooperative Learning in the Elementary ESL Classroom6. Stages of Development6.1. Proficiency Levels Defined7. Errors and Feedback7.1. Points to Remember About Errors7.2. Effective and Appropriate Feedback for English Learners8. Types of Proficiencies8.1. Fostering Second Language Development in Young Children8.2. Instructional Conversation in Native American Classroom 8.3. Student Motivation to Learn8.4. Language Learning Strategies: An Update8.5. Three Misconceptions about Age and L2 Learning9. Types of Performances9.1. Understanding BICS and CALP9.2. The Order of Acquisition and The Order of Use9.3. Schumann's Acculturation Model9.4. Implications From the Threshold and Interdependence Hypotheses9.5. Lily Wong Fillmore’s Cognitive and Social Strategies for Second Language Learners10. Classroom Practices and Language AcquisitionIndex
9.1

Understanding BICS and CALP

Variability Summary A
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There are two major aspects of language proficiency that must be acquired by second language learners. Jim Cummins has identified these as Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS), or conversational proficiency, and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), or academic proficiency. The chart below outlines the differences between BICS and CALP.

Characteristics of BICS: Conversational Proficiency

Characteristics of CALP: Academic Proficiency

The differences between these two kinds of language proficiency are evident in a comparison of a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old native English speaker. Large differences are found in their ability to read and write English and in the depth and breadth of their vocabulary knowledge (their academic proficiency), but little difference in their conversational proficiency. Second language learners can reach peer-appropriate conversational proficiency within two years, but it takes a minimum of five to seven years for them to acquire academic proficiency in English. This distinction is important in terms of providing sufficient support for second language learners.

Source:

Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.


Adapted with permission from:                                                                                             

Teemant, A. & Pinnegar, S. (2007). Understanding Langauge Acquisition Instructional Guide. Brigham Young University-Public School Partnership. 

Suggested Citation

& (2019). Understanding BICS and CALP: Variability Summary A. In (Ed.), Principles of Language Acquisition. Equity Press. https://equitypress.org/language_acquisition/variability_summary_a