Understanding Second Language Terminology
by Judie Haynes
Do you need to teach ESL methodology to your mainstream teachers and administrators? There are some essential terms that they need to know in order to understand basic second language acquisition theory.
Terms for our students or programs
Here are some of the essential terms used to talk about our students or programs. All of these terms are used to describe students who are learning to understand, speak, read and write in English.
- ESL means English as a Second Language.< This generally refers to programs, not students. ESL refers to students who are studying English in an English speaking country are in an ESL program. For example, students who are learning English in the United States are in ESL programs. /li>
- EFL English as a Foreign Language This terms refers to students learning English in another country. For example, Chinese students who are studying English in China are EFL students.
- ESOL means English to Speakers of Other Languages. This term is used to describe programs in different parts of the U.S. - primarily in the South.
- ELL(s) English language learner(s) refers to people who are learning English but are not yet considered proficient.
- ENL English is a New Language This term is used by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
- LEP refers to the current description of studentsí abilities--that they currently have limited English proficiency. This is the term used to describe ELLs by laws and government documents. Many consider it a pejorative term.
- Bilingual refers to the fact that students speak more than one language. All of our ESL students are bilingual. It can also refer to a program where students learn content information in their native language.
Terms for understanding second language acquisition
Culture Shock is a normal stage in the acculturation process that all newcomers go through. Being in a strange place and losing the power to communicate can disrupt a personís world view, self-identity, and systems of thinking, acting and feeling.
- Students feel frustrated, angry, hostile, sad, lonely and homesick.
- Students may develop physical ailments such as stomach aches and headaches. They are often devastated by the emotional upheaval caused by moving to a new culture. They may exhibit behavior such as depression or sleeplessness. They may become overly aggressive or withdrawn.
The Silent Period is a varying period of time during which a newcomer is unwilling to speak in the second language. Nearly all students go through a silent period. This stage could last for as long as one year. English language learners should not be forced to speak until they are ready to do so.
Comprehensible input means that the spoken or written message is delivered at the learnerís level of comprehension. The concepts being taught should not be simplified, but the language used to present the concepts must be made comprehensible. Basic concepts should be presented in a variety of ways.
Affective filter is a "wall" a learner puts up if his/her anxiety level is high. The lower the anxiety level, the lower the filter. ELLs must have a low affective filter in order to learn English. The more comfortable students are in their school environment, the more ready they will be to learn.
BICS are Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. These are the language skills needed for everyday personal and social communication. Second language learners must have BICS in order to interact on the playground and in the classroom. It usually takes students from 1-3 years to completely develop this social language. BICS are not necessarily related to academic success.
CALP is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency is the language associated with native language literacy and cognitive development. These are the language skills needed to undertake academic tasks in the mainstream classroom. It includes content-specific vocabulary. It may take students from 5 to 7 years to develop CALP skills. CALP developed in the first language contribute to the development of CALP in the second language.
© 1998-2011 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net