26.  What is the length of time necessary for students to learn BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) and CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)? What is the length of time for the "Silent Period"?

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (the language of social interactions, the survival language of everyday common conversations, the language to show respect, to express social rankings and politeness , the non-verbal language of the culture, etc.) need to be learned throughout our entire lives!!! The Cognitive-Academic Language of the content areas needs to be mastered and updated throughout our entire lives as new discoveries, new processes, new happenings continue to expand this type of language through time.

BICS, however, is NOT a prerequisite to CALP. Both types of language need to be mastered to function successfully in a new language and a new culture, just like L1-BICS and L1-CALP need to be mastered to function successfully within the L1 culture and primary language.

BICS and CALP must be taught by both, English-As-A-Second Language (ESL)/English Language Development (ELD) teachers, and content area teachers in Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) classes. Both teachers must cooperate in planning their lessons. For example, the SDAIE teacher may give to the ESL/ELD teacher a list of the most frequently used commands and routines in the content area classes. The ESL/ELD teacher may wish to introduce this BICS language in (h)is/er first few lessons. Similarly, the SDAIE teacher may provide for the ESL/ELD teacher the necessary visuals and vocabulary to prepare students for the CALP language needed to succeed in the content area classes.

Both teachers, the ESL/ELD and the SDAIE teachers, in their respective classrooms may model and demonstrate both BICS and CALP throughout their lessons. Both teachers are responsible for developing in ALL students both types of language –BICS and CALP.

The "Silent Period" refers to the time that any student, but especially ELL’s, spend in the Pre-Production stage of language acquisition. During the Silent Period, the student has not developed enough active vocabulary and oral language to participate verbally in the lesson. The student understands, passively understands, what the teacher is saying, especially if the teacher provides for active learning opportunities where students can PERFORM a non-verbal action to demonstrate understanding.

All students, but especially ELL’s, revert to the "Silent Period" every time a new concept (CALP) is introduced and the student has not mastered the language to function verbally throughout the lesson.

How long is the "Silent Period"? NOT VERY LONG if the teacher plans instructional activities that, FIRST, allow students to demonstrate understanding through non-verbal actions. With successful participation through actions, ALL students, but especially ELL’s, build confidence in their newly acquired understanding and begin to participate actively, responding with one-word answers or simple phrases and very short sentences. For that lesson, for that topic or concept, the Silent Period has ended. But it will re-occur the following day if a new concept is presented by the teacher.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net