•  Language Development
    Language learning involves learning the sound system (phonology), the grammatical structures (syntax), word formation (morphology), the meaning of words (semantics), and the rules of usage (pragmatics). As learners are exposed to language that at their level of comprehension (comprehensible input), they gradually construct and reconstruct the language system in which they are immersed. This process begins with an understanding of the main words in a message and moves toward understanding the languages structures, vocabulary, and appropriate use of English in different contexts.
    Learners engage in a continual process of hypothesis testing as they experiment creatively with new language structures during social interaction. Through this continuous, creative construction, learners acquire their new language.This process can be supported and encouraged by the the following conditions in the learning environment. 
    •  Exposure to comprehensible input to meaningful language in genuine communication situations. Input should be appropriately modified so the learner can discover the rules and principles of the new language.
    • Genuine social interaction that involves negotiating meaning in real life situations.
    • Students should be encouraged to respond at their level of language development.

    Two Types of Language Proficiency

    We use language to communicate in many different situations or contexts. Language that is used in social conversation is Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. Language that is used in academic learning contexts is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency.

    Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) is the language proficiency of social conversation. We can communicate socially with a limited vocabulary (2.000) words as there are other clues to meaning in face to face conversation, such as eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, intonation, and the visible context of the communication situation

     Cognitive Academic Language Proficency (CALP)  is the language of academic contexts. Academic language lacks the clues to meaning that are apparent in face to face interpersonal interaction. Academic language is more formal, requires larger, content specific vocabulary that is cognitively demanding, and is less dependent on information in the context  of the communication situation. It is also abstract language with more difficult grammatical construction. Academic language proficiency is the language of the classroom and can take several years to  acquire.

    Stages of Language Development

    Stages of language development have been well researched. The length of each stage can vary greatly among students.

    •  Pre-production: The first stage of language development is often referred to as the silent period. During this stage students are absorbing their new language.They begin to understand the language, but are not ready to actively participate.  During this stage, the input of complex sounds, meaning, word order and grammatical principles are accumulating, but a certain critical mass is needed for everything to come together.  Teachers should provide comprehensible input -- short, simple, and idiom-free language.
    During this stage students can  

       ➢Actively listen for short periods
       ➢Respond non-verbally
       ➢ Understand more than they can say

    Teachers can request students to     
       ➢    Point to
       ➢    Match
       ➢    Draw
       ➢    Act out

    Early Production:  The second stage of language acquisition marks the beginning of trying to use the new language. While verbalizations are limited, comprehension is growing.  Learners should be encouraged to take risks and can respond with words or short phrases. 
    During the Early Production stage, students can                        
       ➢ Answer either/or questions
       ➢ Answer Who, What, Where, or When questions requiring one or two-word answers

    Teachers can request students to
       ➢Name objects

    Speech Emergence:  During the third stage of language development, students are still beginners in English who may begin to use simple sentences and experience increased comprehension.  Accept errors as part of the process of learning and model correct usage.  Students are more willing to speak (and therefore become more fluent) when they can do so in a small group rather than before the entire class.  
    During the Speech Emergence stage, students can
       ➢ Define
       ➢ Retell
       ➢ Compare
       ➢ Describe

    Teachers can request students to
       ➢ Role play
       ➢ Participate in small group work
       ➢ Complete some oral assessments

    Intermediate Fluency: During the last stage of language development before a student is placed in mainstream classes, learners have good comprehension and are capable of constructing complex sentences, analyzing, examining, and justifying; but they will continue to make errors both in language reception and production.  While they may appear orally fluent, they may still experience difficulty with high-level academics and literacy for several years.
    During this stage, students can answer questions such as
       ➢ What do you think about . . . ?
       ➢ What would happen if  . . . ?
       ➢ How does  . . . ?

    Teachers can request students to
       ➢ Participate in almost all reading and writing activities if supported or adapted
       ➢ Do most classroom tasks

    English Language Learners are often referred to by their level of ability. The following explanations provide a guide for understanding what might be expected of a student at a particular level.

    Entering ( Beginning)
    •    Limited communication in English
    •    Limited or no receptive or expressive vocabulary;
    •    Only isolated words and expressions produced;
    •    Limited or no command of English structure;
    •    Limited or no grasp of English phonology;
    •    Little or no experience with reading of visual symbols (slight differences across age groups);
    •    Only operates in the concrete;
    •    Unable to understand standardized tests.

    Beginning (Low Intermediate)

    •    Limited ability to communicate in English;
    •    Limited receptive or expressive vocabulary;
    •    Some phrases; incoherent sentences produced;
    •    Little command of English structure;
    •    Limited grasp of English sounds system;
    •    Limited experience with reading of visual symbols;
    •    Unable to operate in the abstract;
    •    Unable to understand 75% of standardize tests.

    Developing (Intermediate)

    •    Some communicative abilities in English;
    •    Some receptive and expressive vocabulary;
    •    Some complete sentences with errors;
    •    Some command of English structure;
    •    Some understanding of the phonetic sounds of English;
    •    Some experience with reading of visual symbol;
    •    Sometimes operates in the abstract;
    •    Standardize test scores well below grade level.

    Expanding (Advanced)
    •    Almost native-like communicative abilities in English;
    •    Developing receptive and expressive vocabulary;
    •    Complete sentences for developmental age;
    •    Good command of English structure;
    •    Occasional errors made, which would not be uncommon among native speakers;
    •    Phonetic sounds of English well produced;
    •    Decoding skills more advanced;
    •    Literal comprehension well developed;
    •    Subtleties of a story not grasped on a par with native speakers;
    •    Usually operate in the abstract;
    •    Standardize tests scores below grade level.


Last Modified on October 30, 2018