Illustration of Dr. Jim
Cumminsí Grid (4 Quadrants)
Cognitively Undemanding (BICS)
Initial levels ESL?
Content Classes (Art,
Note on the
diagram or illustrations)
CTBS, SAT 9, CAP
Reading / Writing
Math Concepts and
Explanations of New Abstract
Lecture with few
Cognitively Demanding (CALP)
All of the activities above the solid black line
(included in quadrants A and C) fall into the category that Dr.
Cummins calls Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills or BICS. As
you can see the activities in quadrant A are context rich (as
indicated by being left of the dotted line). In quadrant A you
receive context clues to help with understanding. In quadrant C, you
receive less or none of the context clues to help you (as indicated
by being right of the dotted line). However none of the activities
in either A or C are cognitively demanding.
When you go to the activities below the solid black
line, you find activities which are cognitively demanding. The
activities in quadrant B are cognitively demanding but they are also
context embedded. You receive context clues to help you with
understanding. To the contrary, the activities found in quadrant D
are context reduced meaning that you wonít have context clues to
assist with understanding.
The ultimate goal is to take students from quadrant A,
where they have conversational skills but still need context clues
to comprehend well, to quadrant D where they will have success with
cognitively demanding tasks without context clues.
How do you do that?
The answer lies in quadrant B where students receive instruction in cognitively demanding
grade level tasks but still have the support from specially designed
instruction to assist them with understanding. This is why SDAIE
instruction is so important for the student who is limited in
English, and why teachers must provide context rich instruction.
Also, it is important to understand that a student may exhibit
language which appears fluent in general conversational settings,
but who may still have difficulty in academic settings. He may have
the basic fluency to be successful with cognitively undemanding
tasks but may lack the literacy required for academically and
cognitively demanding activities. The teacher needs to be aware of
the needs of the English Language Learner in order to design the
instruction with all of the supports needed. With that support in
place the student will eventually be able to move into quadrant D
activities with great success.