I would like to draw your attention to a page found within the TSM that I believe to be relatively new,  Cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). This focuses on language proficiency, specifically a conceptual framework of language proficiency as devised by Dr James Cummins1, exploring English literacy development and the social and academic barriers that limit learning for English-language learners (ELLs).

Cummins introduced a distinction within language between English for social or basic survival which he referred to as Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and a second  for academia, which he referred to as Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). He originally wished to draw attention to immigrant children and the time difference in language acquisition they would experience. I feel it is equally applicable to all children, the vocabulary load within a given biology lesson is high and therefore all benefit from English language support.

A video describing this further can be watched on YouTube

[youtube id=”cjFw9aC8jnY”]

Within the CALP page  reference to language learning is linked to three biological activities, to help provide the teacher with ideas how best to give language instruction / support with the sound pedagogical practice of:

  • Activating background knowledge
  • Scaffolding and practice and…
  • demonstrating cognitive academic language proficiency.

I believe the intention is that from these 3 activities one will devise others to help support our students within the classroom.

1. Cummins, J. (1979). Cognitive/academic language proficiency, linguistic interdependence, the optimum age question and some other matters. Working Papers on Bilingualism, No. 19, 121–129. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.