BICS/CALS Theory in Teaching ESL Students Analytical Essay by Nicky

BICS/CALS Theory in Teaching ESL Students
An exploration of Jim Cummins' two-pronged model for linguistic assimilation.
# 146794 | 883 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Jan 17, 2011 in Education (Teaching Methods) , Education (Theory) , Education (Multiculturalism)

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This paper explores the theories of educational theorist Jim Cummins, who has proposed a two-pronged model for linguistic assimilation. The paper explains that academic language acquisition is more than simply understanding vocabulary, but includes skills such as comparing, classifying, synthesizing, evaluating, and inferring. The paper asserts that ESL instruction must be individuated, and every student requires a unique balance between BICS and CALS instruction. The paper concludes by giving the example that a Japanese student with a strong academic background may need to learn to relax when speaking English and experiment with colloquialisms (BICS), while a fluent child of Hispanic immigrants may need academic vocabulary support and a stronger basis in grammar on a CALS level.

From the Paper:

"Perhaps the most valuable insight of the BICS/CALS model is that it highlights how "problems arise when teachers and administrators think that a child is proficient in a language when they demonstrate good social English" (Hayes 2004, cited by Hernandez). For example, the child of Cambodian immigrants might have great experience in interpreting for their parents, and know how to speak English at a high level to order in a restaurant or to talk to customers at their parent's store, but they may have had little education in conventional academic subjects. In contrast, some ESL students have "strong academic backgrounds before they came to the U.S." and are even above equivalent grade levels in the school's curricula, in math and science" (Echevarria & Short 3). They are comfortable with abstract thinking, even if their English may be weak on a spoken level--perhaps even weaker than students whose grammar and academic education needs far more substantial support."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hernandez, Myra. ESL Guide for the mainstream teacher. Trenton k-12. Retrieved March 26, 2009 at
  • Ledbetter, Robin & Jin Seo. BICS/CALS. Cross culture Ed.Retrieved March 26, 2009 at
  • Echevarria, Jana & Deborah J. Short. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP).SIOP Institute. Retrieved March 26, 2009 at

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

BICS/CALS Theory in Teaching ESL Students (2011, January 17) Retrieved November 28, 2023, from

MLA Format

"BICS/CALS Theory in Teaching ESL Students" 17 January 2011. Web. 28 November. 2023. <>