Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency

Cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) is a term devised by Jim Cummins and refers to the stage of learning that English language learners go through after they have mastered social language. In this stage learners attempt to master academic technical language and become proficient in articulating their views in a range of contexts including curriculum subject area demands such as hypothesizing, debating, reasoning, questioning and generalising.

Specific teaching of key vocabulary and sentence structures required for these tasks is required as pupils are not likely to just absorb the language as they did in the social communication stage.

Specific tools that can help teachers support pupils in the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency stage are speaking frames, talk prompts, graphic organisers, writing frames and resources that make vocabulary comprehensible and easy to remember.

In the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency phase remember - quality input equals quality output. Ensure your children get a good amount of 'book language' through personal reading. Encourage them to choose books from the library and use story CDs if they are reluctant readers or graphic novels which can assist with comprehension. Developing a personal enjoyment of reading helps with writing and speaking as well as children become familiar with a range of sentence structures, use of idioms and metaphoric language.

Enabling children to maintain the use of their first language also supports development of Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency . Making dual language books accessible s helpful and there are now often online websites that children can access texts from as well.