E: Development of L2 Communicative Competence Rebecca, Carter,
Cummins’ iceberg theory: BICS/CALP
The acronym "BICS" stands for Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills.
It is the kind of language we use when we are talking face to
face or when we are talking on the phone. It is informal language
and really just a form of basic communication. It is the language
of social interaction. It is "surface" fluency of a language. It
is a mistake to think that because a person has this basic
communication fluency, they are totally fluent in the language.
They may or may not have fluency in academic language. Competency
in the language includes both communication skills (BICS) and
The acronym "CALP" was coined by Dr. Cummins and stands for
Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. It's the academic
language proficiency that one needs to think in abstract ways and to
carry on cognitively demanding tasks that are part of the school
curriculum. Some call it "school language" or academic language.
Cited from Azuza'a
CLAD vocabulary glossary
out their cool vocabulary quiz on SLA terms
Cummins' (1979) theory of language interdependence proposed that there
are common mental processes underlying both first and second language
learning. Cummins has provided a visual representation for this theory
referred to as the "Iceberg" model.
Cummin's hypothesis on interdependence of languages (1979, 1981)-
The iceberg analogy refers to the assumption that on the surface the
first and second languages appear to be functioning in isolation but
under the surface there are academic and intellectual processes that
are common to both languages. In Cummins' hypothesis, the theory
is that first language learning "proficiencies" can be transferred to
the second language learning context. The unique
aspect of the use of Cummins theory is that this hypothesis could also
work in reverse. That is to say that at the same time learners are
learning a second language, they are also developing capacities which
could be used in the first language learning setting (Netten
& Germain, 2002).
Cummins' Language, Power
and Pedagogy: Chapter 1
Krashen's Monitor Model and Input Hypothesis: An Innatist Model
Krashen's model of SLA: Five interrelated hypotheses.
- Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis:
Postulates 2 different processes for L2 learning: subconscious
(acquisition) and conscious (learning). Acquisition occurs in
spontaneous language contexts, is subconscious, and leads to
conversational fluency. Learning is equated with conscious knowledge of
rules of grammar from formal classroom instruction. Fluency is
due to acquisition process; learning cannot become acquisition.
Therefore, classroom should provide an “acquisition-rich” environment
and teaching should focus on meaningful activities that encourage
acquisition rather than learning
- Monitor Hypothesis: Monitoring
is sole function of learning; too much can interfere with communicative
fluency. Therefore, monitoring should be done by the learner only
after fluency has been established.
- Natural Order Hypothesis:
All learners of a particular second language will follow the same
sequence of acquisition in a predictable or “natural” order. Based on morpheme
studies of the 70’s by Roger Brown
- Input Hypothesis: Language
acquisition occurs when the input is understandable but just a little
beyond the learner's current level of language proficiency: i +
1. Therefore, students should be exposed to a lot of i + 1 or
comprehensible input, and after a Silent Period, speech will naturally
"emerge." Compare to Vygotsky’s
- Affective Filter Hypothesis: Anxiety
needs to be low (“low affective filter”) for maximum acquisition to
Criticisms of Krashen's Theories
McLaughlin points out that psychologists have not been able to clearly
separate consciousness and subconsciousness. More useful to think of a
continuum between the two. Beware of dichotomies!
Krashen’s claim that learning cannot lead to acquisition is widely
disputed by researchers (for example those investigating focus on form)
who have found that conscious learning frequently assists students in
their communicative use of vocabulary and language structures.
The problem with Krashen’s Input Hypothesis (besides being virtually
impossible to implement in the classroom) is that is it quite
behavioristic in its focus on manipulation of stimuli – without
considering the learner’s active mental or affective involvement in the
learning process. Also, the Input Hypothesis has no place for the role
of learners’ output or their interaction with others. Merrill &
Lapkin argue that the learner’s output is at least as important (maybe
more so) in the acquisition of a second language than just the input
Krashen’s theoretical claims have led to a great deal of speculation
and additional research on SLA processes. His vast influence on
teachers has made them more aware of the importance of focusing on
meaning and context, rather than isolated vocabulary or grammar
patterns. His identification of the three stages of SLA
(pre-production, early production (speech emergence), extended
(intermediate) production has been influential in helping to determine
students’ level of proficiency in many school districts, and has also
influenced textbook writing.