George Lucas Educational Foundation

Difference between BICS and CALP

Difference between BICS and CALP

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BICS-Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills refer to "social" language. BICS is what students need to know in order to function in everyday life and to communicate on a very basic level. When a person has BICS we say that s/he is "conversationally" fluent.

CALP-Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency which requires students to demonstrate understanding and comprehension of academic terms. Students move from basic conversation skills to actually understanding and participating in the regular classroom.

Recognizing the difference between the two types of skills is important to us as teachers because we may see a student who is very social, active, and talkative on the playground and yet shy and reserved in our classroom. S/he must not automatically be taken for lazy or unwilling to participate. The reason could simply be that the student has not reached CALP or mastered enough vocabulary to participate in the more advanced academic discussion.

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