BICS and CALP are conceptual distinctions in language acquisition. They are important for teachers and students to understand because proficiency in the L2 depends on the daily integration of both everyday and academic vocabulary in students' school environments. Students will learn academic language through everyday conversation, some students will be more proficient in academic vocabulary than in conversational vocabulary, and some students will struggle with gaining academic vocabulary. Each student' learning journey is unique and needs to be honoured and supported. When teachers understand this, they are better able to use their subject curricula to support students' individual language needs. Modeling academic language use, providing opportunities for authentic, higher-order thinking activities and peer dialogue, and teaching language and academic content simultaneously are all ways teachers can use the concept of CALPS to promote ELL development.
In lieu of the assigned video (did it not work for anyone else?), I read a short opinion paper Cummins wrote (accessible here) and watched a short video in which he discusses empowerment. The paper is useful in that he breaks down the three important components of a bilingual program: instruction is cognitively challenging, academic content is taught in tandem with language instruction, and critical language awareness of both L1 and L2 is fostered (p. 6). He summarizes that teachers should focus on message, language, and use in both languages (p. 6). In doing so, teachers are able to authentically build ELL empowerment. He defines empowerment as "the collaborative creation of power" and suggests that relationships in which each individual's identity is affirmed, both individuals will feel a greater sense of "efficacy to create change in their life or social situation" (see video). This is the real effect of social justice education. It tackles the "English-only" colonialist mindset that insidiously attacks students L1 and their cultural capital; it corrects false diagnoses of ELLs as having lower cognitive ability, special learning needs, and/or behavioural issues. There are a number of activities, techniques, and tools teachers can use to support BICS and CALP (Cummins' theories have permeated through teacher resource websites: here is just one example). For me, the most important implementation is explicitly teaching the conception to students - supporting their metacognitive processes, showing them there are different types of language to learn and use, asking them to look for and reflect on the different ways they use language in different contexts - so that they can begin to take ownership of their language acquisition.
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.