Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Sinor


The process of second language acquisition was studied by examining the distinction between basic interpersonal conversation skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). This distinction, originally proposed by linguist Jim Cummins, relates to current trends in the U.S public education system. A review of the literature was conducted and integrated with information obtained by interviewing local language arts teachers. The primary goal of the study was to learn how public school teachers conceptualize second language acquisition and literacy instruction. The thesis also addresses how the BICS/CALP distinction can be applied in real classroom settings. Teachers reported that low student motivation and various cultural factors affect second language acquisition. Further study is needed to determine the extent to which these factors affect the development of CALP. While developing CALP is especially critical for English Language Learner (ELL) student populations, teachers felt that intervention strategies will benefit all students.


This work made publicly available electronically on September 16, 2011.