Basic interpersonal communicative skills

Basic interpersonal communicative skills

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Basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS)
are language skills needed to interact in social situations, for example,
when speaking to a friend on the telephone. BICS refers primarily to context-bound,
face-to-face communication, like the language first learned by toddlers
and preschoolers, which is used in everyday social interaction. We use this language skill in face-to-face
interactions, rather than in dealing with academic tasks. This term is often credited to Jim Cummins
research related to language acquisition and learning. The other term that
is often used in conjunction with this term is cognitive academic language proficiency
(CALP). CALP refers to the highly abstract, decontextualized communication
that takes place in the classroom, especially in the later elementary
grades. CALP involves the “language of learning”, which enables children to
problem-solve, hypothesize, imagine, reason and project into situations with which
they have no personal experience. It is a prerequisite for learning to read
and write and for overall academic success. The implications of the BICS and
CALP concepts for children are that the second language or language of the classroom
needs to be sufficiently well developed for her or him to be able to meet
the cognitive demands of the academic setting. Students typically are thought
to acquire BICS in 2–3 years but take 5–7 years to develop the CALP needed
to be on the same level with their native speaking counterparts in the classroom. Although the terms BICS and CALP and still
widely used, Cummins has more recently used the terms conversational language
and academic language.

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