Year 6 Number 148 May 24th 2005
8400 SHARERS are reading this issue of SHARE this week
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being SHARED
Do you remember our last “editorial” on “quack” teacher trainers? We received piles of mails with reactions to the issue we had raised. Many were curious about who we were talking about! (and they were left wondering, obviously). And many expressed their deep concern about this disgraceful state of affairs and “reported” many similar cases. We would love to publish them all (and expose them all!) but that is, for the time being, impossible so we chose one mail from a very dear SHARER from abroad: Costas Gabrielatos. Enjoy it:
First off I’d like to agree with your sentiments about ‘trainers’ with minimal, if any, education and professional training, and add that the same applies to EFL teachers as well. I’m afraid that such incidents are not restricted to self-professed ‘trainers’, but extend to cases when the title is sanctioned, so to speak, by an institution. It is not uncommon for language schools and training centres to regard a 120-hour Certificate in ELT as sufficient qualification for a post as an EFL teacher, and a 200-hour Diploma for a post of director of studies or teacher trainer.
I’d also like to say how gratifying it is to see a third article of mine appearing in SHARE. Thank you – and keep up the good work.
Omar and Marina
In SHARE 148
1.- Performance- based report cards.
2.- Language Proficiency and Academic Development in Bilingual Schools.
3.- Tips for Writing Comments in Report Cards.
4.- British Council Online Information Service.
5.- Forthcoming ARTESOL and TESOL Conventions.
6.- Women Authors in English Literature.
7.- Online Course: The Key to Understanding Tenses
8.- Support Learning Courses at ZEAL.
9.- Much Ado about Beatrice and Benedick.
10.- Analía Kandel en Radio Splendid: “Idiomas,Arte y Cultura”
the Road Performances in Belgrano.
13.- Words on Words 2005.
14.- Free Course on Communicative Competence.
1.- PERFORMANCE –BASED REPORT CARDS
Our dear SHARER Dr. Fernando Fleurquin has generously offered to SHARE this article with all of us.
At the time he wrote this article, Dr
Fleurquin was Academic Director of ALIANZA, the bi-national centre in
Seeking Authentic Changes: New Performance-based Report Cards
Informing parents and students of
a student's progress is an ongoing task for EFL teachers. This is largely done
informally and spontaneously on an almost daily basis, either answering
students' questions or parents' requests for information on students'
performance in class. However, several times a year we have to prepare a
thorough evaluation and report of our learners' performance. At our
For several years, our report cards included three boxes, which were completed with teachers' comments on the students' oral, written, and overall performance each term. Filling in this kind of information was no easy task because comments for each student should be original and suggestive and, at the same time, they should be an accurate reflection of the student's performance. More experienced and inspired teachers had fewer problems with this task and devoted less time to it. However, the types of comments that prevailed were too general or vague, either giving an overall grade or general comment on the learner's oral or written expression, commenting on the quality of their participation, or giving general suggestions (e.g., very good oral participation; you are always motivated in class; you should write more; remember to do your homework).
In need of a change
We decided we needed a more accurate system to report students' results. In fact, since assessment and instruction are two sides of the same coin, we needed to adapt the assessment and evaluation procedures in such a way that they faithfully reflected our teaching practices. We needed a change that would help us reach the following improvements:
provide more evidence of the status of the student's progress to parents.
First step: defining the outcomes expected
When we started analyzing our needs, we realized we needed to define the performance that we expected of students in the first place. In this way, teachers, students, and parents could be informed of the minimum expectations for each school year. Thus, we appointed a team to write, revise, and edit the performance outcomes for our students' courses.
The six-year program was divided into two main levels: grades 1 through 3, and grades 4 through 6. In our case, with three hours of English instruction per week and with learners who may begin studying English at almost any age, there is a significant difference between their performance during the first three and the last three years of English courses. Even when there are two main levels defined, teachers know how each performance statement can be interpreted and accomplished in each different course.
Once we had defined these outcomes, we found that we were able to reach several new goals. We could improve our assessment practices. We could make use of a wider variety of authentic assessment instruments and practices (such as classroom observation, reflective writing, performance assessment, self-assessment checklists, and portfolio assessment) with more precision and reliability. The conclusions we reached would be more valid portraits of the quality of students' accomplishments. Based on the outcomes defined, a checklist could be easily prepared to follow each child's progress in the different areas. In this sense, the most important advantage of having outcomes is that teachers know which types of performance to assess and therefore to observe, to keep written records of, and to inform and discuss with students and parents.
From outcomes to report cards
To design the report cards, we divided the outcomes into three main categories: oral language development, the reading and writing process, and learning attitude. In this way, we could give more unity and coherence to the different components of students' performance.
Aside from the skills traditionally assessed, we included a special section on student's learning attitude, in which we could show perceived signs of the student's learning preferences and motivation. The areas we emphasized include the interest and motivation that the student shows in and out of class, how the student tolerates and accepts mistakes as an integral part of learning, how respectfully the student interacts with the class, and how effectively the student carries out the assigned tasks.
Finding a scale that fits our purposes
The scale we are using is an interesting attempt to depart from the traditional numbers or grades that are used in most public and private schools. The main effect created by using these evolving concepts is that the results reported are only one snapshot in a much longer process; they reflect our assumption that these results are dynamically changing with the student's performance, rather than conforming to a stagnant concept. Therefore, we truly emphasize the idea that learning involves a change, that learning is a process, that it is in constant evolution, and that learning involves a different process for each learner, who may need more or less time to understand and learn certain content. From the beginning, we assume that if a certain performance is not attained, it may be because the student is not yet ready to demonstrate that she or he has learned it. In other words, we show real confidence in the student. We know that if we continue providing an enticing classroom atmosphere; if we promote attractive and safe learning conditions in which the student can feel free to take risks, to create with language, to express his or her own voice; and if the student continues receiving reassuring and encouraging feedback from the teacher, the student will reach the expected levels of performance at his or her own pace, in due time.
Our audience: students and parents
cards are aimed at both parents and students. However, to involve students even
more in their own learning process and to help them accept more responsibility
for their own learning, the comments and suggestions the teacher makes are
addressed to the student and not to the parents. Furthermore, eliciting the
student's response and signature encourages a real exchange of information
between students and parents, fostering more critical thinking and developing
higher awareness of the factors that improve or hinder the student's learning
progress. And to generate a stronger sense of personal commitment to the
performance reported, we leave a space for students to include one of their own
classroom pictures so that each report card will have a unique and colorful
explained the changes in the report cards to parents in our first meeting with
them, explaining some of the concepts mentioned in this article and even some of
the performance outcomes. It took some time for them to process this
information, but their feedback has been very positive. We feel they are now
more accurately informed of the real performance of their students.
are still learning and changing accordingly. We continue receiving feedback from
teachers, learners, and parents on the implementation of this report card
system, and we will need to continue making minor adjustments.
instruction is truly congruent with our assessment practices. Having progressed
to more authentic ways of assessing our students has implied adopting reliable
and personalized instruments to report our assessment conclusions. By
understanding the nature of the learning process in our particular context, we
have taken steps to develop performance assessments that portray our learners'
real accomplishments, to develop students' awareness of their own progress and
responsibility for their own learning, and to periodically inform students and
parents of the real performance changes that take place in our classrooms.
1998 Fernando Fleurquin
PROFICIENCY AND ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT
IN BILINGUAL SCHOOLS.
dear SHARER Gerardo Laffitte from
Language Proficiency in Its Place: Responding to Critiques of the
Conversational/Academic Language Distinction
issue of how language proficiency relates to academic achievement is clearly
relevant to the educational development of bilingual and trilingual children.
These children may be exposed to a wide variety of language interaction
patterns in home and school. In many contexts in
number of issues arise for policy-makers contemplating the introduction of
bilingual and trilingual education programs. For example, if instruction is
divided among two or three languages, will proficiency in each language develop
adequately? When is it appropriate
to compare bilingual children’s proficiency in their two languages (L1 and L2)
with that of monolingual children whose instruction has been totally through
their L1? In other words, how long
does it take children to attain grade expectations in their second (or third)
language? In a transitional
bilingual program such as those implemented for minority students in the United
States and parts of The
issues have been debated in the context of bilingual education for linguistic
minority students in the
related example is the debate in the
short, the question of how we conceptualize language proficiency and how
it is related to academic development is central to many volatile policy issues
in the area of bilingual education. I
have suggested that in order to address these issues we need to make a
fundamental distinction between conversational and academic aspects of language
proficiency (originally labeled basic interpersonal communicative skills [BICS]
and cognitive academic language proficiency [CALP]).
(Cummins, 1979). In this
paper I use the terms conversational/academic language proficiency
interchangeably with BICS/CALP.
distinction has been influential in a number of contexts (e.g. Cline &
Frederickson, 1996) but it has also been severely critiqued by a number of
investigators (e.g. Edelsky et al., 1983; Martin-Jones & Romaine, 1986;
Romaine, 1990; Wiley, 1996). In
this paper, I try to clarify the rationale and nature of the distinction in
light of research evidence from a number of contexts and I respond to the
critiques that have been addressed to the distinction.
In the first section below I elaborate the rationale for the distinction
and the evolution of the constructs during the past 20 years.
and Toukomaa (1976) had brought attention to the fact that Finnish immigrant
distinction between BICS and CALP (Cummins, 1979) was intended to draw
educators' attention to these data and to warn against premature exit of
minority students (in the
BICS/CALP distinction also served to qualify John Oller's (1979) claim that all
individual differences in language proficiency could be accounted for by just
one underlying factor, which he termed global language proficiency. Oller
synthesized a considerable amount of data showing strong correlations between
performance on cloze tests of reading, standardized reading tests, and measures
of oral verbal ability (e.g. vocabulary measures). I pointed out that not all
aspects of language use or performance could be incorporated into one dimension
of global language proficiency. For
example, if we take two monolingual English-speaking siblings, a 12-year old
child and a six-year old, there are enormous differences in these children's
ability to read and write English and in their knowledge of vocabulary, but
minimal differences in their phonology or basic fluency.
The six-year old can understand virtually everything that is likely to be
said to her in everyday social contexts and she can use language very
effectively in these contexts, just as the 12-year old can.
Similarly, as noted above, in second language acquisition contexts,
immigrant children typically manifest very different time periods required to
catch up to their peers in everyday face-to-face aspects of proficiency as
compared to academic aspects.
distinction was elaborated into two intersecting continua (Cummins, 1981b) which
highlighted the range of cognitive demands and contextual support involved in
particular language tasks or activities (context-embedded/context-reduced,
cognitively undemanding/cognitively demanding) (see Figure 1). The BICS/CALP
distinction was maintained within this elaboration and related to the
theoretical distinctions of several other theorists.
The terms used by different investigators have varied but the essential
distinction refers to the extent to which the meaning being communicated is
supported by contextual or interpersonal cues (such as gestures, facial
expressions, and intonation present in face-to-face interaction) or dependent on
linguistic cues that are largely independent of the immediate communicative
framework elaborated in Figure 1 differs
from distinctions made by theorists such as Bruner (1975)
[communicative/analytic competence], Donaldson (1978) [embedded and disembedded
thought and language], Olson (1978) [utterance and text] and Snow et al. (1991)
[contextualized and decontextualized language] in that it goes beyond a simple
dichotomy in mapping the underlying dimensions of linguistic performance in
academic contexts. In these
one-dimensional distinctions, as in distinctions between oral and literate forms
of language, the degree of cognitive demand of particular tasks or activities is
not represented. Thus there would
be no way of highlighting the fact that an intense intellectual discussion with
one or two other people can be just as cognitively demanding as writing an
academic paper, despite the fact that the former is contextualized while the
latter is relatively decontextualized.
and Contextual Demands
framework outlined in Figure 1 is designed to identify the extent to which
students are able to cope successfully with the cognitive and linguistic demands
made on them by the social and educational environment in which they are obliged
to function. These demands are conceptualized within a framework made up of the
intersection of two continua, one relating to the range of contextual support
available for expressing or receiving meaning and the other relating to the
amount of information that must be processed simultaneously or in close
succession by the student in order to carry out the activity.
extremes of the context-embedded/context-reduced continuum are distinguished by
the fact that in context-embedded communication the participants can actively
negotiate meaning (e.g. by providing feedback that the message has not been
understood) and the language is supported by a wide range of meaningful
interpersonal and situational cues. Context-reduced communication, on the other
hand, relies primarily (or, at the extreme of the continuum, exclusively) on
linguistic cues to meaning, and thus successful interpretation of the message
depends heavily on knowledge of the language itself. In general,
context-embedded communication is more typical of the everyday world outside the
classroom, whereas many of the linguistic demands of the classroom (e.g.
manipulating text) reflect communicative activities that are close to the
context-reduced end of the continuum.
upper parts of the vertical continuum consist of communicative tasks and
activities in which the linguistic tools have become largely automatized and
thus require little active cognitive involvement for appropriate performance. At
the lower end of the continuum are tasks and activities in which the linguistic
tools have not become automatized and thus require active cognitive involvement.
Persuading another individual that your point of view is correct, and writing an
essay, are examples of quadrant B and D skills respectively. Casual conversation
is a typical quadrant A activity while examples of quadrant C are copying notes
from the blackboard or filling in worksheets.
framework elaborates on the conversational/academic distinction by highlighting
important underlying dimensions of conversational and academic communication.
Thus, conversational abilities (quadrant A) often develop relatively quickly
among immigrant second language learners because these forms of communication
are supported by interpersonal and contextual cues and make relatively few
cognitive demands on the individual. Mastery of the academic functions of
language (quadrant D), on the other hand, is a more formidable task because such
uses require high levels of cognitive involvement and are only minimally
supported by contextual or interpersonal cues. Under conditions of high
cognitive demand, it is necessary for students to stretch their linguistic
resources to the limit to function successfully. In short, the essential aspect
of academic language proficiency is the ability to make complex meanings
explicit in either oral or written modalities by means of language itself
rather than by means of contextual or paralinguistic cues (e.g. gestures,
students progress through the grades, they are increasingly required to
manipulate language in cognitively-demanding and context-reduced situations that
differ significantly from everyday conversational interactions. In writing, for
example, they must learn to continue to produce language without the prompting
that comes from a conversational partner and they must plan large units of
discourse, and organize them coherently, rather than planning only what will be
said next. The difference between the everyday language of face-to-face
interaction and the language of schooling is clearly expressed by Pauline
Gibbons (1991) in outlining the differences between what she terms playground
language and classroom language:
playground language includes the language which enables children to make
friends, join in games and take part in a variety of day-to-day activities that
develop and maintain social contacts. It usually occurs in face-to-face contact,
and is thus highly dependent on the physical and visual context, and on gesture
and body language. Fluency with this kind of language is an important part of
language development; without it a child is isolated from the normal social life
of the playground. ...
playground language is very different from the language that teachers use in the
classroom, and from the language that we expect children to learn to use. The
language of the playground is not the language associated with learning in
mathematics, or social studies, or science. The playground situation does not
normally offer children the opportunity to use such language as: if we
increase the angle by 5 degrees, we could cut the circumference into equal
parts. Nor does it normally require the language associated with the higher
order thinking skills, such as hypothesizing, evaluating, inferring,
generalizing, predicting or classifying. Yet these are the language functions
which are related to learning and the development of cognition; they occur in
all areas of the curriculum, and without them a child's potential in academic
areas cannot be realized. (p. 3)
the context-embedded/context-reduced distinction is not one between oral and
written language. Within the framework, the dimensions of contextual
embeddedness and cognitive demand are distinguished because some
context-embedded activities are clearly just as cognitively-demanding as
context-reduced activities. For example, an intense intellectual discussion with
one or two other people is likely to require at least as much cognitive
processing as writing an essay on the same topic. Similarly, writing an e-mail
message to a close friend is, in many respects, more context-embedded than
giving a lecture to a large group of people.
support involves both internal and external dimensions. Internal factors are attributes
of the individual that make a task more familiar or easier in some respect
(e.g. prior experience, motivation, cultural relevance, interests, etc.).
External factors refer to aspects of the input that facilitate or impede
comprehension; for example, language input that is spoken clearly and contains a
considerable amount of syntactic and semantic redundancy is easier to understand
than input that lacks these features.
central implication of the framework for instruction of second language learners
is that language and content will be acquired most successfully when students
are challenged cognitively but provided with the contextual and linguistic
supports or scaffolds required for successful task completion. In other words,
optimal instruction for linguistic, cognitive and academic growth will tend to
fall into quadrant B.
of the Conversational/Academic (BICS/CALP) distinction
distinction between BICS and CALP has sometimes been misunderstood or
misrepresented. For example, the distinction was criticized on the grounds that
a simple dichotomy does not account for many dimensions of language use and
competence (e.g. sociolinguistic aspects of language) (e.g. Wald, 1984).
However, the distinction was not proposed as an overall theory of
language but as a very specific conceptual distinction addressed to specific
issues related to the education of second language learners. As outlined above,
the distinction entails important implications for policy and practice. The fact
that the distinction does not address issues of sociolinguistics or discourse
styles or any number of other linguistic issues is irrelevant.
The usefulness of any theoretical construct should be assessed in
relation to the issues that it attempts to address, not in relation to issues
that it makes no claim to address. To
suggest that the BICS/CALP distinction is invalid because it does not account
for subtleties of sociolinguistic interaction or discourse styles is like
saying: "This apple is no good because it doesn't taste like an
point concerns the sequence of acquisition between BICS and CALP. August and
Hakuta (1997), for example, suggest
that the distinction specifies that BICS must precede CALP in development. This
is not at all the case. The sequential nature of BICS/CALP acquisition was
suggested as typical in the specific situation of immigrant children learning a
second language. It was not suggested as an absolute order that applies in
every, or even the majority of situations.
Thus attainment of high
levels of L2 CALP can precede attainment of fluent L2 BICS in certain situations
(e.g. a scientist who can read a language for research purposes but who can’t
misunderstanding is to interpret the distinction as dimensions of language that
are autonomous or independent of their contexts of acquisition (e.g. Romaine,
1990, p. 240). To say that BICS and CALP are conceptually distinct is not the
same as saying that they are separate or acquired in different ways.
Developmentally they are not necessarily separate; all children acquire their
initial conceptual foundation (knowledge of the world) largely through
conversational interactions in the home. Both BICS and CALP are shaped by their
contexts of acquisition and use. Consistent
with a Vygotskian perspective on cognitive and language development, BICS and
CALP both develop within a matrix of social interaction.
However, they follow different developmental patterns: phonological
skills in our native language and our basic fluency reach a plateau in the first
six or so years; in other words, the rate of subsequent development is very much
reduced in comparison to previous development.
This is not the case for literacy-related knowledge such as range of
vocabulary which continues to develop at least throughout our schooling and
usually throughout our lifetimes.
is also important to point out that cognitive skills are involved, to a greater
or lesser extent, in most forms of social interaction.
For example, cognitive skills are undoubtedly involved in one's ability
to tell jokes effectively and if we work at it we might improve our joke-telling
ability throughout our lifetimes. However,
our joke-telling ability is largely unrelated to our academic performance. This
intersection of the cognitive and social aspects of language proficiency,
however, does not mean that they are identical or reducible one to the other.
The implicit assumption that conversational fluency in English is a good
indicator of "English proficiency" has resulted in countless bilingual
children being "diagnosed" as learning disabled or retarded. Despite
their developmental intersections, BICS and CALP are conceptually and follow
different developmental patterns.
additional misconception is that the distinction characterizes CALP (academic
language) as a “superior” form of language proficiency than BICS
(conversational language). This
interpretation was never intended, although it is easy to see how the use of the
term “basic” in BICS might appear to devalue conversational language as
compared to the higher status of cognitive academic language proficiency.
Clearly, various forms of oral language performance are highly complex
and sophisticated both linguistically and cognitively. However, these forms of
language performance are not necessarily strongly related to the linguistic
demands of schooling. As outlined
above, access to very specific forms of language are required to continue to
progress academically and a major goal of schooling for all students is to
expand students’ registers and repertoires of language into these academic
domains. However, the greater relevance of academic language proficiency for
success in schooling, as compared to conversational proficiency, does not mean
that it is intrinsically superior in any way or that the language proficiency of
non-literate or non-schooled communities is in any way deficient.
final point of clarification concerns the relationship of language proficiency
to social determinants of minority students’ academic development (e.g.
Troike, 1984). The conversational/academic language proficiency theoretical
construct is psychoeducational in nature insofar as it focuses primarily on the
cognitive and linguistic dimensions of proficiency in a language.
The role of social factors in minority students' academic success or
failure was acknowledged in early work but not elaborated in detail.
In 1986, I proposed a
framework within which the intersecting roles of sociopolitical and
psychoeducational factors could be conceptualized (Cummins, 1986).
Specifically, the framework highlighted the ways in which the
interactions between educators and minority students reflected particular role
definitions on the part of educators in relation to students' language and
culture, community participation, pedagogy, and assessment.
It hypothesized that minority students are educationally disabled in
school in much the same way that their communities have historically been
disabled in the wider society and pointed to directions for reversing this
process. The framework argues that
educational interventions will be successful only to the extent that they
constitute a challenge to the broader societal power structure (Cummins, 1986,
To this point, two major sets of evidence have been advanced to support the conversational/academic language distinction:
In monolingual contexts, the distinction reflects the difference between the
language proficiency acquired through interpersonal interaction by virtually all
6-year old children and the proficiency developed through schooling and literacy
which continues to expand throughout our lifetimes. For most children, the basic
structure of their native language is in place by age 6 or so but their language
continues to expand with respect to the range of vocabulary and grammatical
constructions they can understand and use and the linguistic contexts within
which they can function successfully. A
typical 16-year-old student has considerably greater knowledge of language and
options for language use (e.g. reading novels, encyclopedias, etc.) than a
typical six-year old despite the fact that both are fluent native speakers of
Research studies since the early 1980s have shown that immigrant students can
quickly acquire considerable fluency in the target language when they are
exposed to it in the environment and at school but despite this rapid growth in
conversational fluency, it generally takes a minimum of about five years (and
frequently much longer) for them to catch up to native-speakers in academic
aspects of the language (Collier, 1987; Cummins, 1979, 1981a; Klesmer, 1994) as
assessed by measures of literacy and formal language knowledge.
addition to the evidence noted above, the distinction receives strong support
from two other sources: (a) Douglas Biber's (1986) analysis of a corpus of
authentic discourse gathered from a wide range of communicative situations, both
written and oral, and (b) David Corson’s (1995) documentation of the lexical
differences between English everyday conversational language and textual
language, the former deriving predominantly from Anglo-Saxon sources and the
latter from Graeco-Latin sources.
Analysis of Textual Variation
used psychometric analysis of an extremely large corpus of spoken and written
textual material in order to uncover the basic dimensions underlying textual
variation. Among the 16 text types included in Biber's analysis were broadcasts,
spontaneous speeches, telephone conversation, face-to-face conversation,
professional letters, academic prose and press reports. Forty-one linguistic
features were counted in 545 text samples, totaling more than one million words.
major dimensions emerged from the factor analysis of this corpus. These were
labeled by Biber as Interactive vs. Edited Text, Abstract vs. Situated
Content, and Reported vs. Immediate Style. The first dimension
is described as follows:
Factor 1 identifies a dimension which characterizes texts produced under
conditions of high personal involvement and real-time constraints (marked by low
explicitness in the expression of meaning, high subordination and interactive
features) - as opposed to texts produced under conditions permitting
considerable editing and high explicitness of lexical content, but little
interaction or personal involvement. ... This dimension combines both
situational and cognitive parameters; in particular it combines interactional
features with those reflecting production constraints (or the lack of them).
(1986, p. 385)
second factor has positive weights from linguistic features such as
nominalizations, prepositions, and passives and, according to Biber, reflects a
"detached formal style vs. a concrete colloquial one" (p. 396).
Although this factor is correlated with the first factor, it can be empirically
distinguished from it, as illustrated by professional letters, which, according
to Biber's analysis, represent highly abstract texts that have a high level of
third factor has positive weights from linguistic features such as past tense,
perfect aspect and 3rd person pronouns which can all refer to a removed
narrative context. According to Biber this dimension "distinguishes texts
with a primary narrative emphasis, marked by considerable reference to a removed
situation, from those with non-narrative emphases (descriptive, expository, or
other) marked by little reference to a removed situation but a high occurrence
of present tense forms" (p. 396).
Biber's three dimensions provide a more detailed analysis of the nature of
language proficiency and use than the conversational/academic distinction (as
would be expected in view of the very extensive range of spoken and written
texts analyzed), it is clear that the distinctions highlighted in his dimensions
are consistent with the broad distinction between conversational and academic
aspects of proficiency. For example, when factor scores were calculated for the
different text types on each factor, telephone and face-to-face conversation
were at opposite extremes from official documents and academic prose on Textual
Dimensions 1 and 2 (Interactive vs. Edited Text, and Abstract vs. Situated
Content). In short, Biber’s
research shows clearly that the general distinction that has been proposed
between conversational and academic aspects of language has linguistic reality
that can be identified empirically.
with Biber’s distinctions is recent work by Gibbons and Lascar (1998) in
Analysis of the English Language Lexicon
(1993, 1995) has pointed out that the academic language of texts in English
depends heavily on Graeco-Latin words whereas everyday conversation relies more
on an Anglo-Saxon-based lexicon: "most of the specialist and high status
terminology of English is Graeco-Latin in origin, and most of its more everyday
terminology is Anglo-Saxon in origin" (1993, p. 13).
He cites data that suggests that approximately 60% of all of the words in
written English text are of Graeco-Latin origin. These words tend to be three or
four syllables long whereas the everyday high frequency words of the Anglo-Saxon
lexicon tend to be one or two syllables in length.
Corson (1997, p. 677) points out that
texts provided much more exposure to [Graeco-Latin] words than oral ones.
For example, even children's books contained 50% more rare words than
either adult prime-time television or the conversations of university graduates;
popular magazines had three times as many rare words as television and informal
obvious implication of these data is that if second language learners are to
catch up academically to native-speakers they must engage in extensive reading
of written text because academic language is reliably to be found only in
written text. The research on reading achievement also suggests, however, that
in addition to large amounts of time for actual text reading, it is also
important for students to have ample opportunities to talk to each other and to
a teacher about their responses to reading (see Fielding and Pearson, 1994, for
a review). Talking about the text
in a collaborative context ensures that higher order thinking processes (e.g.
analysis, evaluation, synthesis) engage with academic language in deepening
students’ comprehension of the text.
better illustrate the centrality of the Graeco-Latin lexicon to the
comprehension of academic language consider the following passage from Edgar
Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum which appeared in a high school
outstretched hands at length encountered some solid obstruction.
It was a wall, seemingly of stone masonry -- very smooth, slimy, and
cold. I followed it up; stepping with all the careful distrust with which
certain antique narratives had inspired me. (ScottForesman, 1997, p. 256)
the more difficult words in this passage are the following: outstretched,
encountered, solid, obstruction, masonry, slimy, distrust, antique, narratives,
inspired With the exception of outstretched
and slimy, all of these words are Graeco-Latin in origin and have
semantic relationships across the Romance languages. Outstretched has
indirect cognate relationships with Graeco-Latin-based languages through its
synonym extended (e.g. extendido in Spanish). Thus, at least in
English, the lexicon used in conversational interactions is dramatically
different than that used in more literate and academic contexts.
summary, there is solid linguistic evidence for the reality of the
conversational/academic language distinction in addition to the evidence of
different time periods required to develop peer-appropriate levels of each
dimension of language proficiency among second language learners. In the North
American context, failure to take account of this distinction has led to
inappropriate psychological testing of bilingual students and premature exit
from bilingual or ESL support programs into "mainstream" classes where
students received minimal support for continued academic language development.
In other words, the conceptual distinction between conversational and
academic language proficiency highlighted misconceptions about the nature of
language proficiency that were contributing directly to the creation of academic
failure among bilingual students.
critiques of the conversational/academic distinction were advanced by
Carole Edelsky and her colleagues (Edelsky et al., 1983) and in a volume
edited by Charlene Rivera (1984). These
critiques were responded to and will not be discussed in depth in this paper
(see Cummins & Swain, 1983). Edelsky
(1990) later reiterated and reformulated her critique and other critiques were
advanced by Martin-Jones and Romaine (1986) and Romaine (1990).
More recently, Terrence Wiley (1996) has provided a detailed review and
major criticisms in these and other critiques are as follows:
The conversational/academic language distinction reflects an autonomous
perspective on language that ignores its location in social practices and power
relations (Edelsky et al., 1983; Romaine, 1990; Troike, 1984; Wald, 1984; Wiley,
CALP or academic language proficiency represents little more than
“test-wiseness” - it is an artifact of the inappropriate way in which it has
been measured (Edelsky et al., 1983).
The notion of CALP promotes a “deficit theory” insofar as it attributes the
academic failure of bilingual/minority students to low cognitive/academic
proficiency rather than to inappropriate schooling; in this respect it is no
different than notions such as “semilingualism”
(Edelsky, 1990; Edelsky et al., 1983; Martin-Jones & Romaine, 1986).
will outline in more detail the points raised by Edelsky (1990) and Wiley (1996)
as representative of the general orientation of these critiques.
with her previous critique (Edelsky et al., 1983), Edelsky disputes the
legitimacy of the constructs of cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP)
and basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS).
She argues that CALP consists of little more than test-taking skills and
the construct encourages skills-oriented instruction, thereby impeding the
literacy development of bilingual students who will thrive only in
meaning-oriented whole-language instructional contexts.
The tone and substance of her critique can be gauged from the following
fundamental problem with all versions of Cummins’ THEORY is that it is
premised on an erroneous, psychologically derived ‘theory’ of the nature of
reading—a conception of reading as consisting of separate skills with discrete
components of language. What counts as either reading-in-action or as evidence
of reading ability is ‘reading skills’. These are demonstrated by
performance in miscontextualized tasks (performed for the sole purpose of either
demonstrating proficiency or complying with the assignment) or on tests whose
scores are resumed to represent some supposedly context-free reading ability.
Cummins’ occasional use of ‘whole language’ terminology (e.g.
‘inferring’, ‘predicting’ ‘large chunks of discourse’), his
underlying skills orientation shows through. (p. 61)... he uses a discourse of
empowerment and puts forward a set of suggestions that implicitly contradict his
‘theory’ of reading as consisting of separate skills (Cummins, 1986). ...
And Cummins uses the right rhetoric. He
talks of students setting their own goals and generating their own knowledge and
he mentions congruent educational practice... Even so, the separate skills
‘theory’ slips out and he contradicts his own message.
For example, for empirical support, he relies heavily on test score data
that can only provide evidence of how well students perform on skill exercises.
He applauds and describes at length programs that operate according to a
skills ‘theory’. For instance, he talks of two programs that make language
or cultural accommodations which benefit minority language children by helping
them attain readiness or success. Readiness
for what? For the academic tasks of the traditional kindergartens the children
will enter in
Edelsky is referring to here is reference to two programs that incorporated many
of the characteristics that I postulated were necessary to challenge coercive
power structures in school. One was
the bilingual preschool program in Carpinteria that used Spanish as the
predominant language of instruction and attempted to incorporate children’s
cultural background experience into the design of the program which was strongly
child-centered (Campos & Keatinge, 1988). The other was the Kamehameha
to Edelsky the theoretical constructs “gained popularity so fast and was so
effective in influencing policy” (p. 63) because they reinforced ideas that
“undergird predominant thinking about education in North America” namely
“[t]hat written language consists of separate skills, that curriculum should
teach those skills, that tests can assess them” (p. 63).
points out that in disputing the constructs of CALP and BICS, she is not
claiming that all children are equally competent.
She also points out that she does not believe that proficiency with any
language variety, in either oral or written modes, enables one to do everything
humanly possible with language (p. 65):
potentially equal, at any given historical moment different language
repertoires (including literate repertoires) of particular speech communities
are unequally efficient for all purposes and even then, unequally assigned to
members. ... However, the nature of those repertoires, their functions, their
meanings, and their inequalities must be determined by ethnographies of speaking
and of literacy, not by differential performance in one (testing) context that
is subject to criticism on multiple grounds. (p. 65)
is explicit about how she views the construct of cognitive academic language
proficiency: it is nothing more than “test-wiseness” (p. 65) or what she
terms “skill in instructional nonsense” (SIN).
Any research that has used any form of “test,” whether standardized
reading measures or non-standardized measures of any kind of cognitive
performance is dismissed. For
example, in referring to Gordon Wells’ (1986) documentation of the relation
between exposure to literacy at home and subsequent literacy performance in
school she notes: “In fact, from the use he makes of Wells’ research,
Cummins seems to interpret the social grounding of CALP to mean no more than a
correlation between test scores and certain kinds of home interactions” (p.
68). It is not surprising to her that support for the theoretical constructs of
CALP and BICS would come
almost entirely from studies using tests of separate so-called reading skills.
(No wonder. His small parts, psychometric orientation that views all human
activity as first divisible into atomized skills and then measurable would
certainly lead him to prefer such evidence. (p. 61)
concludes her critique by rejecting theories that locate “failure in
children’s heads (in their IQ, their language deficits, their cognitive
deficits, their learning styles, their underdeveloped CALP).”
to the Critique
first point to note is that there is nothing new in the Edelsky (1990) critique
that was not already in the Edelsky et al. (1983) critique.
The only difference is that any elaboration of the sociopolitical
determinants of students’ academic difficulties is dismissed as suffering from
“internal contradictions.” The
same charge is leveled against any explication of the pedagogical implications
of the theoretical framework which attempt to go beyond apolitical
one-size-fits-all whole language approaches towards transformative or critical
pedagogy (Cummins, 1986, 1996; see also Delpit, 1988, and Reyes, 1992, for
critiques of whole language from progressive educators).
set the record straight, the sociopolitical and instructional implications of
the theoretical framework which Edelsky dismisses as internally contradictory
were expressed in 1986 as follows:
students are disabled or empowered in schools in very much the same way that
their communities are disempowered in interactions with societal institutions.
... This analysis implies that minority students will succeed educationally to
the extent that the patterns of interaction in school reverse those that prevail
in the society at large. (p. 24)
the societal commitment to maintaining the dominant/dominated power
relationships, we can predict that educational changes threatening this
structure will be fiercely resisted. (p. 34)
central tenet of the reciprocal interaction model is that “talking and writing
are means to learning” (Bullock Report, 1975, p. 50). ... This model
emphasizes the development of higher level cognitive skills rather than just
factual recall, and meaningful language use by students rather than correction
of surface forms. Language use and
development are consciously integrated with all curricular content rather than
taught as isolated subjects, and tasks are presented to students in ways that
generate intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.
In short, pedagogical approaches that empower students encourage them to
assume greater control over setting their own learning goals and to collaborate
actively with each other in achieving these goals (p. 29)
terms of the quadrants outlined in Figure 1, these approaches fall into quadrant
B (cognitively demanding, context embedded). In later work, I have emphasized
the importance of going beyond whole language or “progressive pedagogy” as
illustrated in the quotation below:
pedagogy uses collaborative critical inquiry to enable students to relate
curriculum content to their individual and collective experience and to analyze
broader social issues relevant to their lives.
It also encourages students to discuss ways in which social realities
might be transformed through various forms of democratic participation and
transformative pedagogy will aim to go beyond the sanitized curriculum that is
still the norm in many schools. It
will attempt to promote students’ ability to analyze and understand the social
realities of their own lives and of their communities.
It will strive to develop a critical literacy... (1996, p. 157)
how are these perspectives “internally contradictory” with the
conversational/academic language distinction and with the dimensions outlined in
Figure 1? They are not in any way contradictory.
The construct of academic language proficiency does not in any way
depend on test scores as support for either its construct validity or relevance
to education. Three out of four sources of evidence cited above make no mention
of test scores. The obvious differences between 6-year-old and 16-year-old
monolingual students in multiple aspects of literacy-related knowledge
(assessed by any criterion) illustrate this reality as does Corson’s
analysis of the lexicon of English and Biber’s analysis of more than one
million words of English speech and written text (although Biber’s work might
be suspect to Edelsky since he did use psychometric tools to analyze
relationships among words and their linguistic and social contexts of use).
vehement dismissal of any test used for any purpose in any context and her
adamant endorsement of only one way of collecting data on language proficiency
(through ethnographies of speaking and literacy) might appear to some
researchers as extreme. To others
it might appear as a fundamentalist approach which recognizes only one truth and
adopts an “off with their heads” attitude to other perspectives. There are
very few researchers in the area of bilingual education (or any other area of
educational research) who, on ideological grounds, have refused to even cite
research that used statistics or that involved formal testing of academic
characteristic of fundamentalist approaches to any topic or belief system is
that attempts at dialogue tend not to progress very far.
This is illustrated in the fact that Edelsky (1990) makes no attempt to
respond to the rebuttals of the Edelsky et al. (1983) position advanced by
Cummins and Swain (1983). We made
three basic points in response to the arguments that the CALP/BICS distinction
entailed a “deficit position” that blamed the victim by attributing school
failure to “low CALP” and furthermore that it promoted a “skills”
approach to pedagogy that would further victimize minority group students. We
That rational discussion of which theories constitute ‘deficit theories’
require explicit criteria of
what constitutes a ‘deficit theory’; for example, does it constitute a
“deficit theory” to note, as many researchers and theorists have done (e.g.
Wells, 1981), that middle class
children tend to have more experience of books than low-income students when
they come to school and that this gives them access to a greater range of
language functions and registers that are relevant to the ways schools tend to
teach initial literacy? In this case, children’s linguistic experience and the
consequent earlier access to certain registers of language is seen as an
intervening variable that interacts with patterns of instruction at school. Is
any positing of learner attributes and linguistic experience as an intervening
variable a deficit theory?
That universal condemnation of all formal test situations is simplistic and
fails to account for considerable data documenting strong positive relationships
between reading test scores and “authentic” assessment measures such as
miscue analysis and cloze procedures. We pointed out that “if cloze tests are
to be dismissed as ‘irrelevant nonsense’ then this surely merits some
comment in view of their widespread use and
acceptance among applied linguists” (1983, p. 28) including Sarah Hudelson,
one of Edelsky’s co-authors.
That when language proficiency or CALP “is discussed as part of a causal
chain, it is never discussed as an isolated causal factor (as Edelsky et
al. consistently depict it) but rather as one of a number of individual
learner attributes which are determined by societal influences and which
interact with educational treatment factors in affecting academic progress”
(p. 31). In other words, language proficiency was always seen as an
intervening variable rather than an autonomous causal variable; it develops
through social interaction in home and school.
deny this essentially Vygotskian perspective on language and academic
development, one has to either adopt an extreme Chomskian perspective that
identifies “language proficiency” as Universal Grammar and immune from
virtually all social interactional and environmental influence or claim that a
student’s language proficiency in a particular language has no relationship to
that student’s ability to benefit from instruction in that language.
(1990) failure to define what she means by a deficit position, explain how
“authentic” measures of reading are so closely related to “skill in
instructional nonsense,” and discuss the extent to which, within her belief
system, there is a place for any construct of “language proficiency” and if
so how it relates to academic progress (intervening variable, “causal”
variable, totally unrelated?) suggests that she is more interested in rhetoric
more open approach would admit that there is no contradiction between the
conception of “language proficiency” outlined in the early part of this
paper and a theoretical framework that
identifies coercive power relations as the causal factors in the
underachievement of subordinated group students; and
promotes transformative pedagogy as a central component in challenging these
coercive relations of power in the classroom.
fact, the distinction between conversational and academic dimensions of
proficiency has been instrumental in highlighting both how standardized tests
(e.g. IQ tests used in psychological assessment) and premature exit from
bilingual programs on the basis of conversational rather than academic
development in English have contributed to the perpetuation of coercive power
relations in the educational system. A
balanced critique would have acknowledged the impact of the
conversational/academic distinction in highlighting these realities.
final issue concerns Edelsky’s dismissal of the efforts of dedicated educators
in Carpinteria and Hawaii (and countless other programs that have used
standardized tests as one way of documenting student progress and establishing
credibility to skeptical policy-makers and the general public). While the
offensive tone of this dismissal is probably unintended, it illustrates the
consequences of adopting a one-dimensional perspective on the contradictions
encountered by educators attempting to create contexts of empowerment in the
real world of classrooms and schools.
critique forms a chapter in his useful volume Literacy and Language Diversity
in the United States. The critique derives from a basic distinction he makes
between different orientations to literacy. Specifically, he contrasts the autonomous
approach with the ideological approach.
The former is described as follows:
autonomous approach to literacy tends to focus on formal mental properties of
decoding and encoding text, excluding analyses of how these processes are used
within social contexts. The success of the learner in acquiring literacy is seen
as correlating with individual psychological processes. ... Those operating
within the autonomous approach see literacy as having “cognitive
consequences” at both the individual and societal level... An autonomous
perspective largely ignores the historical and sociopolitical contexts in which
individuals live and differences in power and resources between groups.
contrast, in the ideological approach advanced by Street (1993) and critical
pedagogy theorists (e.g. Freire, 1970) “literacy is viewed as a set of
practices that are inextricably linked to cultural and power structures in the
society (p. 32). From this
perspective, literacy problems are seen as related to social stratification and
to gaps in power and resources between groups. The role of schools in
reinforcing this stratification is expressed as follows:
schools are the principal institutions responsible for developing literacy, they
are seen as embedded within larger sociopolitical contexts. Because some groups
succeed in school while others fail, the ideological approach scrutinizes the
way in which literacy development is carried out. It looks at the implicit
biases in schools that can privilege some groups to the exclusion of others.
Finally, the social practices approach values literacy programs and policies
that are built on the knowledge and resources people already have. (p. 33)
major concern is that constructs such as BICS/CALP or conversational/academic
language and the contextual and cognitive dimensions outlined in Figure 1 appear
to invoke an autonomous orientation to language and literacy that isolates
language and literacy practices from their sociocultural and sociopolitical
context. He concurs with the critiques of Edelsky et al. (1983) that the
construct of CALP relies on inauthentic test data and cites Martin-Jones and
Romaine (1986, p. 30) that the distinction between CALP and BICS is suspect
both are seen as independent of rather than shaped by the language context in
which they are acquired and used... The type of literacy-related skills
described by Cummins are, in fact, quite culture-specific: that is, they are
specific to the cultural setting of the school.
is also concerned about the higher status supposedly assigned to academic as
compared to conversational language:
of academic language proficiency and decontextualization, as they are often
used, are particularly problematic because they confound language with schooling
and equate a higher cognitive status to the language and literacy practices of
school. Academic language proficiency seems to equate broadly with schooling.
Schooling is not a neutral process. It
involves class and culturally specific forms of socialization. (p. 183)
Wiley criticizes the “simplistic” but “well-intentioned” ways in which
practitioners have attempted to operationalize the kinds of language
tasks/activities that would fall into the four quadrants of Figure 1. He gives
one set of examples of such tasks/activities used for professional development
in California which he describes as “value laden and arbitrary” with
categorization of tasks which is “confused and inaccurate.”
He points out that “[p]rofessional development materials such as these
illustrate the limitations of applying constructs in practice that have not been
fully elaborated at the theoretical level.”
concludes that it is “necessary to rid the framework of those constructs that
are compatible with an autonomous view of language use. ... It would require
focusing more on social than on cognitive factors affecting language development
(Troike, 1984) and on the cultural factors that affect language and literacy
practices in the schools” (p. 178).
rigid dichotomy leads him to largely ignore the fact that the theoretical
constructs associated with the notion of language proficiency (e.g. as outlined
in Figure 1) have been integrated since 1986 with a detailed sociopolitical
analysis of how schools construct academic failure among subordinated groups.
This framework (Cummins, 1986, 1989, 1996) analyzes how coercive
relations of power in the wider society (“macro-interactions”) affect both
educator role definitions and educational structures which, in turn, result in
patterns of “micro-interactions” between educators and subordinated group
students that have constricted students’ academic language development and
identity formation. The framework
documents educational approaches that challenge this pattern of coercive power
relations and promote the generation of power in the micro-interactions between
educators and students.
framework, however, does not regard “language proficiency” as irrelevant to
the schooling of subordinated group students. I believe that, in order to
analyze how power relations operate in the real world of schooling, it is
crucial to ask questions such as “How long does it take second language
learners to catch up to native speakers in English academic development?” The
data showing that five years are minimally required to bridge this gap continue
to provide bilingual educators with a powerful rebuttal to efforts to deny
students access to bilingual programs or exit them rapidly from support services
whether bilingual or English-only. Yet, Wiley would presumably classify this
question as deriving from an “autonomous” perspective.
also believe that it is legitimate to ask “What forms of proficiency in
English do bilingual students need to survive academically in all-English
classrooms after they have been transitioned out of bilingual programs?” This
question would also fall into the “autonomous” category of the artificial
either-or dichotomy that Wiley constructs. The conversational/academic language
proficiency distinction has been instrumental in helping educators understand
why students transitioned on the basis of conversational fluency in English
frequently experience severe academic difficulties in all-English mainstream
same issue surfaces with respect to the assessment of bilingual children for
special education purposes. The
BICS/CALP distinction highlighted the fact that psychological assessment in
English was considered appropriate by psychologists and teachers when students
had gained conversational fluency in English but frequently were far from their
native English-speaking peers in academic English development (Cummins, 1984).
dichotomy would also consign any question regarding how language and cognition
intersect (in either monolingual or multilingual individuals) to the garbage
heap of scientific inquiry. All of the research studies documenting
that acquisition of bilingualism in childhood entails no adverse
cognitive consequences for children and, in fact, is associated with more
advanced awareness of language and ability to analyze language would also be
castigated as reflecting an “autonomous” perspective.
is also legitimate, I believe, to ask how linguistic interactions in home and
school, and interactions related to print, affect children’s linguistic,
cognitive, and academic development. These interactions take place within a
sociocultural and sociopolitical context but their effects are still linguistic,
academic, and cognitive. A student
from a bilingual background who does not understand the language of instruction
in school and receives no support to enable him or her to do so is unlikely to
develop high levels of academic or literacy skills in either first or second
list of questions could go on. The
point I want to make is that within the framework I have proposed, “language
proficiency” is seen as an intervening variable that mediates
children’s academic development. It
is not in any sense “autonomous” or independent of the sociocultural
context. I fully agree with Martin-Jones and Romaine’s point that the
development of conversational and academic aspects of proficiency are “shaped
by the language context in which they are acquired and used” and that academic
language is “specific to the cultural setting of the school.”
Their claim that the BICS/CALP distinction proposes otherwise is without
foundation. A central aspect of the framework, in fact, is that language
proficiency is shaped by the patterns and contexts of educator-student
interaction in the school and will, in turn, mediate the further outcomes of
claim that the BICS/CALP distinction ascribes a superior status to academic
language as compared to conversational has already been addressed above. No form
of language is cognitively or linguistically superior to any other in any
absolute sense outside of particular contexts.
However, within the context of school, knowledge of academic language
(e.g. the Graeco-Latin lexicon of written English text) is clearly relevant to
educational success and adds a crucial dimension to conversational fluency in
understanding how “language proficiency” relates to academic achievement..
Wiley, like Martin-Jones and Romaine, take a conceptual distinction that was
addressed only to issues of schooling, and criticize it on the grounds that this
distinction is “specific only to the cultural setting of the school.” They
seriously misrepresent the distinction when they label it “autonomous” or
“independent” of particular contexts..
inconsistency in Wiley’s attitude to “inauthentic test data” should be
noted. He suggests (p. 167) that there is a major concern regarding the
authenticity of using school-test data as a means of determining language
proficiencies. I would agree. School-test data attempt to assess certain kinds
of language proficiencies but often do it very inadequately without regard to
cultural and linguistic biases in the test instruments, as the study of
psychological test data demonstrated (Cummins, 1984). However, in view of
Wiley’s dismissal of school-test data as even a partial basis for constructing
theory, it is surprising to see him invoke exactly this type of data to assert
that “[t]here is an ever-growing body of evidence that bilingual education is
effective in promoting literacy and academic achievement
among children when adequate resources are provided” (p. 153).
Virtually all of this evidence derives from “inauthentic” standardized test
data. For example, among the references cited to back up this claim are Ramirez
(1992) and Krashen and Biber (1988) who relied almost exclusively on
standardized test data to support their claims for the effectiveness of
final point concerns Wiley’s unease with the “simplistic,” “confused and
inaccurate” interpretations by some practitioners of what kinds of language
task or activities would fall into the four quadrants of Figure 1. He fails to
appreciate that the quadrants represent a visual metaphor that incorporates
hypotheses about the dimensions underlying various kinds of language
performance. It makes linkages
between the theoretical literature on the nature of proficiency in a language
and specific instructional and policy issues faced on a daily basis by educators
working with bilingual learners (e.g. how much “English proficiency” do
children need to participate effectively in an all-English classroom?). It
attempts to provide tentative answers to certain questions such as why certain
kinds of “English proficiency” are acquired to peer-appropriate levels
relatively quickly while a longer period is required for other aspects of
proficiency. However, it was also
intended as a heuristic tool to stimulate discussion regarding the linguistic
and cognitive challenges posed by different academic tasks and subject matter
content and in both the British and North American context it has been effective
in this regard (e.g. Frederickson & Cline, 1996).
Thus, it risks appearing condescending to dismiss as “simplistic” the
efforts of educators to use the framework as a tool to discuss, and attempt to
better understand, the linguistic challenges their students face.
summary, Wiley’s basic point is that the theoretical construction of language
and literacy and prescriptions regarding how they should be taught are never
neutral with respect to societal power relations.
An “ideological” approach is fundamental to understanding literacy
development, particularly in linguistically and culturally diverse contexts.
I am in full agreement with this perspective and have attempted to
highlight how coercive power relations affect the development of language and
literacy among bilingual students. However,
there are also many important and legitimate questions regarding the nature of
language proficiency, the developmental patterns of its various components, and
the relationships among language proficiency, cognitive development, and
academic progress, that cannot be totally reduced to “ideological” or
sociopolitical questions. To
dismiss these issues as reflecting an “autonomous” orientation and to demand
that any traces of such an orientation be purged from theoretical approaches to
literacy is not only to dismiss much of the entire disciplines of psychology and
applied linguistics but it also reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of
intervening or mediating variables. There is absolutely no internal
inconsistency in asking questions about the nature of the relationships between
language, bilingualism, cognition, and academic achievement within the broader
context of a sociopolitical causal model.
much of the discussion in this paper has revolved around theoretical issues
relating to language proficiency and how it relates to academic development, my
primary goal has been to clarify misconceptions regarding these issues so that
policy-makers and educators can re-focus on the issue of how to promote academic
language development effectively among bilingual children.
If academic language proficiency or CALP is accepted as a valid construct
then certain instructional implications follow.
In the first place, as Stephen Krashen (1993) has repeatedly emphasized,
extensive reading is crucial for academic development since academic language is
found primarily in written text. If bilingual students are not reading
extensively, they are not getting access to the language of academic success.
Opportunities for collaborative learning and talk about text are also relevant
in helping students internalize and more fully comprehend the academic language
they find in their extensive reading of text.
is also crucial because when bilingual students write about issues that matter
to them they not only consolidate aspects of the academic language they have
been reading, they also express their identities through language and
(hopefully) receive feedback from teachers and others that will affirm and
further develop their expression of self.
general, the instructional implications of the framework within bilingual
programs can be expressed in terms of the three components of the construct of
instruction should be cognitively challenging and require students to use
higher-order thinking abilities rather than the low-level memorization and
application skills that are tapped by typical worksheets or drill-and-practice
content (science, math, social studies, art etc.) should be integrated with
language instruction so that students acquire the specific language of these
development of critical language awareness should be fostered throughout the
program by encouraging students to compare and contrast their languages (e.g.
phonics conventions, grammar, cognates, etc.) and by providing students with
extensive opportunities to carry out projects investigating their own and their
community's language use, practices, and assumptions (e.g. in relation to the
status of different varieties).
short, instruction within a strong bilingual program should provide a Focus
on Message, a Focus on Language, and a Focus on Use in both
languages (Cummins, in press). We
know our program is effective, and developing CALP, if we can say with
confidence that our students are generating new knowledge, creating literature
and art, and acting on social realities that affect their lives.
These are the kinds of (quadrant B) instructional activities that the
conversational/academic language distinction is intended to foster.
would like to thank David Corson for helpful comments on an earlier version of
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Cummins, J. (in press). Teaching the language of academic success. Monograph to be published by
Cummins, J. & Corson, D. (Eds.). (1998). Bilingual education.
Cummins, J. & Swain, M. (1983). Analysis-by rhetoric: reading the text or the reader’s own projections? A reply to Edelsky et al. Applied Linguistics, 4(1), 22-41.
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Donaldson, M. (1978). Children's minds.
Edelsky, C. (1990). With literacy and justice for all: Rethinking the social in language and education.
Edelsky, C, Hudelson, S., Altwerger, B., Flores, B., Barkin, F., Jilbert, K.(1983). Semilingualism and language deficit. Applied Linguistics, 4(1), 1-22.
Fielding, L.G. & Pearson, P.D. (1994). Reading comprehension: what works. Educational Leadership, 51(5), 62-68.
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Halliday, M.A.K. & Hasan, R. (1985). Language, context and text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective.
Klesmer, H. (1994). Assessment and teacher perceptions of ESL student achievement. English Quarterly, 26(3), 5-7.
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Krashen, S.& Biber, D. (1988). On course: Bilingual education’s success in
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Oller, J. (1979). Language tests at school: A pragmatic approach.
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Ortiz, A.A. & Yates, J.R. (1983). Incidence of exceptionality among Hispanics: Implications for manpower planning. NABE Journal, 7, 41-54.
Ramirez, J.D. (1992). Executive summary. Bilingual Research Journal, 16, 1-62.
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Rivera, C. (Ed.). (1984). Language proficiency and academic achievement.
Romaine, S. (1989). Bilingualism.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. & Toukomaa, P. (1976). Teaching migrant children's mother tongue and learning the language of the host country in the context of the sociocultural situation of the migrant family.
Snow, C.E., Cancino, H., De
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TIPS FOR WRITING COMMENTS IN REPORT
dear SHARER Flarencia Damario has sent us this list of tips to help us write
comments in our young learners´ report cards. As someone once said "My
main advice about report card comments is to tell the truth." Well, here
you have 286 ways to tell the truth.
1999-2005 by Gigglepotz.com
dear SHARER Mary Godward writes to us:
have just launched Live Chat, a new service to answer all your questions in real
time. This online information service is operated by Ignacio Aguiló, whom many
of you have been in touch with about exhibitions and events.
do you access this service?
very simple! Go to our homepage (www.britishcouncil.org.ar)
and click on the Live Chat icon. Ignacio will be ready to answer your questions.
is this service available?
Monday to Friday from 1000 to 1400.
information does this service provide?
British Council activities in
Information on education in the
can use this online information service?
service is open to people who need information on the British Council and the
Council - www.britishcouncil.org.ar
T de Alvear 590 - 4to piso - C1058AAF Buenos Aires, Argentina
T +54 (0)11 4311 9814 / 7519 - F +54 (0)11 4311 7747
ARTESOL AND TESOL CONVENTIONS
July 1 – Saturday July 2, 2005
Superior de Lenguas Extranjeras. Universidad
del Aconcagua, Mendoza, Argentina
miles to go before I sleep”
Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods
on a Snowy Evening
join us….let's all walk those miles together...
Dr Jodi Crandall PhD.- University of Maryland Baltimore County
PhD. Georgetown University - Professor – Director Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program of Maryland, Baltimore County, Department of Education
Her Teaching and Research Interests include: Content based language learning, Second language literacy, language teacher education, First and second language writing
Cone TESOL Convention
2005 Tesol Southern Cone Convention will be held in Asunción, Paraguay on July
20, 21 and 22, 2005 at the Instituto Superior de Educación “Dr. Raul Peña".
Address: Av. Eusebio Ayala Km 4,5. Barrio Hipódromo, Asunción.
AUTHORS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE
Authors In English Literature
at teachers, professors, translators, interpreters and anybody devoted to the
study and the teaching of English Literature.
you are short of time but want to discuss women’s writing with particular
reference to such themes as gender, women’s rights, sexuality and motherhood,
why not choose a one-day workshop held on Saturday afternoons?.
will be looking in detail at Virginia Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway”, and
at Silvia Plath’s poem “Three Women”. Lively discussion will take
place centering on both the literary merits of the works, and the gender issues
they touch upon, from a comparative and contextual perspective.
to 17 p.m
María Fernanda Diez - BA in English and French (Literature) - MSc Filosophy
us at: (011) 4371-9671 -
ONLINE COURSE: THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING TENSES
dear SHARER Susana Trabaldo of Net-Learning,
Virtual Learning Environments has got an invitation to make:
Online Course: “Aspect in English: the key to understanding TENSES… and much more”
Aldo Blanco M.A.
weeks - Starting date: 26 MAY
Fee: AR$ 160 - US$ 90
con puntaje - Resolución del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Bs. As. 434/05
por la Escuela de Posgrado de la Universidad Nacional de San Martín.
SUPPORT LEARNING COURSES AT ZEAL
dear SHARER Maria Teresa Manteo has sent us this announcement:
Methods in the Teaching of Reading & Writing
events in June
June 4th - from
Dahl's Humour & Thought - dynamic critical appreciation of suitable texts
to promote thoughtful and engaged readers. A good laugh and a
2 & 3)
No previous reading required -
June 18th - from
Power of Language- a door
to spark literary discussions and empower transformation in our classrooms. Links
between Literature and NLP concepts.
ZEAL- School of English - 25 de Mayo 349
by: María Teresa Manteo, Reading Consultant
$25 Groups of Teachers: $22 each participant
and Literature Teacher at IGCSE & IB levels, Former Scholastic Literacy
Consultant, NLP Practitioner
registration details contact María Teresa Manteo at: firstname.lastname@example.org
11 45030605 - www.supportlearning.com.ar
dear SHARER Celia Zubiri invites all SHARERS to see her acclaimed “Much
five performances in June
10, 17, 24 at
your reservations well in advance!
Teatro Santamaría > Montevideo 842 – Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
price: $12 - $10 for groups of 10 people or more
ANALÍA KANDEL EN RADIO SPLENDID: “IDIOMAS,ARTE Y CULTURA”
dear SHARER Analía Kandel has very good news for all of us:
de “Idiomas, Arte y Cultura” de Analía Kandel
sábado de cada mes a las 18 hs.
“Bureau de Arte” por Radio Splendid AM 990
columna de “Idiomas, Arte y Cultura” aborda temas relacionados con aspectos
lingüísticos y culturales de las lenguas extranjeras a través de comentarios,
debates, gacetillas y entrevistas a especialistas, profesionales y
representantes de diversas instituciones con el fin de brindar información
actual y relevante para profesores, traductores, intérpretes y amantes de los
idiomas y la palabra.
18 de Junio, 18 Hs.
Trad. María Cristina Pinto, Presidente de A.A.T.I., Asociación Argentina de
Traductores e Intérpretes (entrevista en piso)
La Asociación Argentina de
Traductores e Intérpretes: objetivos, miembros, actividades. La profesión del
traductor literario y técnico-científico y del intérprete.
Susan Hillyard, Co-autora del libro Global
Issues (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Contenido de Global Issues para
docentes de lenguas extranjeras. El por qué del objetivo de los autores
respecto de llevar al aula “cuestiones globales” y específicamente,
“fomentar el diálogo intercultural y de desafiar estereotipos”.
Kandel es Profesora Nacional de Inglés, egresada del Instituto Nacional
Superior del Profesorado “Dr. Joaquín V. González”. Obtuvo una Maestría
(M.A.) en la Enseñanza de Inglés como Lengua Extranjera de la Universidad de
Reading, Reino Unido. Es especialista en la enseñanza de lengua inglesa, y
específicamente en la enseñanza de escritura con un enfoque de proceso. Desde
1995 enseña “Lengua Inglesa III” en Institutos de Formación Docente –
desde 2000 en el I.S.P. “J. V. González”. Ha co-organizado y participado
como disertante y panelista en congresos y eventos académicos sobre la enseñanza
de lenguas extranjeras. Fue vicepresidente de la Asociación de Profesores de
Inglés de Buenos Aires (APIBA) y Coordinadora General de los Grupos de Estudio
(SIGs) de APIBA. Es autora del Manual de
Gestión de APIBA SIGs (2002). Desde 2000 es Coordinadora del Dpto. de Inglés
en Boston College. Dicta talleres y
seminarios de capacitación sobre metodología de la enseñanza para docentes.
Actualmente cursa estudios de interpretación (C.C.I.T.) y desde 2004 cursa la
carrera de Producción y Creatividad Radiofónica (E.T.E.R.) y conduce la
columna de “Idiomas, Arte y Cultura” en el programa “Bureau de Arte” en
Radio Splendid, AM 990.
dear SHARER Sandra Zappa-Hollman (formerly from Cippoletti) has written to us
all with a request for help.
I'm an ELT currently based in Canada who has taught English as a foreign language in Argentina for almost ten years (at all levels,including post-secondary). Presently, I'm conducting a survey project that investigates the challenges faced by primary-level teachers of English in the public and private education systems in
The Argentine education system has undergone radical changes since the Federal Law of Education (FLE) was passed in 1993. The restructuring of schools was also accompanied by curriculum changes,among which is the introduction of the teaching of a foreign language from an earlier age than in the former system. However, in actual practice it has been hard to successfully implement the new curriculum. There have been many problems related to budget constraints, inadequate teacher training, political opposition, to name just a few. Yet to date,research that documents issues of this type specifically in the area of English is virtually non-existent.
My project thus attempts to address an important gap by gathering crucial information from teachers that are facing the daily challenge to teach English under conditions which are not always the most desirable ones. The idea for this project has evolved out of my legitimate personal interest in learning more about the ELT situation in my country of birth. Having read about the shortcomings and challenges of similar curriculum changes that were implemented in other countries has encouraged me to take a critical look at the situation in
For anyone interested in learning more about this project, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com . A special invitation to get in touch with me goes to any ELT in
MA (TESL), PhD Candidate (
THE ROAD PERFORMANCES IN BELGRANO
Our dear SHARER Ximena Faralla invites all SHARERS to the performances of On the Road:
the Road~ Theatre
shows at UPeBe Theatre in Belgrano
seats - Book now!
June, Tuesday 14th - Showtime:
16th - Showtime:
Friday 17th - Showtime:
30th - Showtime:
enjoyed by ages
June, Tuesday 21st - Showtime:
June, Thursday 23rd - Showtime:
enjoyed by ages 6 to 13
UPeBe Theatre - Ciudad de la Paz 1972 - Belgrano.
& Info: 4568-7125
ON WORDS 2005
dear SHARER Mary Godward from the British Council writes to us:
will all be pleased to hear that we are now ready to launch our programme for
Words on Words 2005. This year we will be reading. How? By running reading
groups on contemporary
the direction of Claudia Ferradas Moi, each reading group will meet three times.
These sessions are aimed at language and literature teachers interested in
exploring contemporary texts and perhaps in organising reading groups
themselves. During the three meetings, participants will form part of a
community of readers actively exchanging views on texts. Discussion and
reflection will aim at demystifying the literary text, prioritising reader
response and intercultural awareness.
round off the programme, in October the writer Blake Morrison will be visiting
reading groups will take place in
Groups at ESSARP
and time: Tuesday 7, 14 and 28 June 2005 – 1730-1930
ESSARP Centre, Esmeralda 672, 7th Floor,
please phone ESSARP (Tel 4322 2480)
Groups at Lenguas Vivas (Salón 400)
and time: Monday 30 May, Tuesday 7 June and
please phone the British Council (Tel 4311 9814)
will soon send you the dates for all the other
to see you at the Reading Group sessions
Knowledge and Learning
COURSE ON COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE
dear SHARERS at Winton International and ELTeam Consultancy announce:
Language: Communicative Competence
course for EGB 2, EGB 3 and Polimodal English teachers approved by Red
Federal de Capacitación Continua Proyecto 12/05 Dictamen 6432
course will focus on teaching phonology, reading, writing, speaking and
listening, how to teach grammar and vocabulary embedded in lesson planning, etc.
Theoretical background as regards communicative competence, discourse analysis
and interlanguage will be developed as well as practical ideas for teaching
course will consist of nine meetings: June 4, 11, 18, July 2 and 30, August 13,
20, 27 and September 3.
Superior IDRA, San Luis 3851 (Mar del Plata)
Only at ELTeam lounge, Río Negro 4413, Mar del Plata (0223-4758631)
bring a copy of your ID.
of charge - Sponsored
with perfect attendance and punctuality will participate in a raffle with
Today we would like to finish this issue of SHARE a mail that a dear old colleague sent us:
on such a long-running inspired development! I don't know how it happened,
but I just learnt about your mag last month when a friend user told me. The
whole thing makes me nostalgic for Inner
Eye times! Well, I'll be reading. So long for now.
thank Hugo for his mail and for his incredible effort to produce The
Inner Eye for such a long time. We missed you, Hugo as much as we miss your
ineffable Inner Eye.
for the good old days and the very best of days to come!
A WONDERFUL WEEK
is distributed free of charge. All announcements in this electronic magazine are
also absolutely free of charge. We do not endorse any of the services announced
or the views expressed by the contributors. For more information about the
characteristics and readership of SHARE visit: http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ShareMagazine
VISIT OUR WEBSITE : http://www.ShareEducation.com.ar There you can read all past issues of SHARE in the section SHARE ARCHIVES.