Do you have awesome students who seem competent in the classroom, so confident that they don’t seem to need language support? They communicate with you and others with minimal difficulty. This is because they have mastered BICS. BICS stands for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, the vocabulary all English Language Learners, ELLs learn first because it is the language heard and spoken first when acquiring another language. The most challenging language comes next. Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency Skills, CALPS, is the hardest to acquire and has been known to take up to 5-7 years for language learners to use with the accuracy of their peers. See the page on BICS and CALPS.
Teaching an English learner is not specific to newcomers. In fact, all students in your class could benefit from careful examination of the academic language needed to succeed in the class. There are three tiers to academic language with tier 1 being words most frequently used and tier 3 being content specific words. You will find more information on the three tiers of academic vocabulary in the links section of this blog.
Differentiating instruction is easier when you consider the WIDA Can Do Descriptors. See links forWIDA. WIDA has updated their site recently to include PD modules helpful for mainstream teachers. Also, in case you did not know, the Can Do Descriptors are now aligned a bit differently.
Nervous about your newcomers? Don’t be! New students are likely to be more nervous than you are. Take time to explore the animated link on culture shock and the posting How to Provide a Welcoming Environment for your Newcomers.
Whenever you have a child who speaks another language in your classroom, you have a culture different from yours to understand. There are pages dedicated to culture in this blog.