ALL learners, including native English language speakers, are continuing to learn "academic English." According to researcher Jim Cummins, Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) is proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, & listening related to content area material. Academic language acquisition isn't just the understanding of content area vocabulary. It includes skills such as comparing, classifying, synthesizing, evaluating, and inferring. This can take 5-7 years for ELLs to develop. (Doesn't this describe our work with ALL students?)
In contrast, basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) are language skills needed in social situations..."playground language." It usually takes only 6 months - 2 years to develop. Click here to learn more about BICS & CALP.
As the world is shrinking, we find ourselves working with students from all over the globe. We become learners ourselves in interacting with ELLs in the classroom. No matter what your experience or comfort level, just remember one thing..."Although there are hundreds of languages in the world, a smile speaks them all.” (author unknown)