bics vs calp


First, I would like to give a brief overview of explaining these two acronyms.   (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills)  BICS and (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) CALP.  Next, I would like to provide readers with research articles that will sustain both types of language proficiency.   I hope this page will serve as a meaningful and helpful resource to parents, teachers, and the community.  Please enjoy your visits to this page while understanding how language really works. As we know language is acquired over a period of time.  Sometimes teachers may become a bit concerned because students do not gain the CALP skills as quickly as their native speakers. On the flip side parents, too, can become a little restless because they may assume that their children have mastered the English language because of their speaking abilities.  As an ESL Teacher, I assure you that children need to become well grounded in both BICS and CALP in order to mainstream into the classroom and compete with their peers.  Let's delve and look into the facts of both. 

 BICS is the social language that children acquire pretty quickly.  Some experts say that it can take from six months to a couple of years for this acquisition to take place.  This is the language that children need to survive on the playground, in and around the neighborhood, and  in other social gatherings.  However, CALP refers to the academic language that requires students to think unconventionally.  They need to know how to express themselves in a very congnitively demanding way.  This goes beyond simple vocabulary usage, but it extends to thought-provoking questions like comparing and contrasting characters or evaluating an author's point of view.  Academic language takes longer to acquire and most experts agree that it can take  5-7 years to gain proficiency. 

The next time that frustration creeps in, just remember that "time" is one of the key factors. While some students have already met the guidelines for exiting the ESL program, others are still working diligently to do the same.  In the meantime, we applaud all of our language learners here at Grantham Elementary for their steady growth and progress.

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