Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory & Practice
The Glossary gives further information about some terms used in current bilingual education literature.
Additive Bilingualism: A situation where a second language is learnt by an individual or a group without detracting from the development of the first language. A situation where a second language adds to, rather than replaces the first language. This is the opposite of subtractive bilingualism.
Assimilation: The process by which a person or language group lose their own language and culture which are replaced by a different language and culture. A political policy that seeks to absorb in-migrants into the dominant language and culture of the new country to create cultural and social unity.
Balanced Bilingualism: Approximately equal competence in two languages.
BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills. Everyday, straightforward communication skills that are helped by contextual supports.
Biliteracy: Reading and writing in two languages.
CALP: Cognitive/Academic Language Proficiency. The level of language required to understand academically demanding subject matter in a classroom. Such language is often abstract, without contextual supports such as gestures and the viewing of objects.
Codeswitching: Moving from one language to another, inside a sentence or across sentences.
Diglossia: Two languages or language varieties existing together in a society in a stable arrangement through different uses attached to each language.
Dominant Language: The language which a person has greater proficiency in or uses more often.
Enrichment Bilingual Education: A form of bilingual education that seeks to develop additive bilingualism, thus enriching a person’s cultural, social and personal education. Two languages and cultures are developed through education.
Heritage Language: The language a person regards as their native, home, ancestral language. This covers indigenous languages (e.g. Welsh in Wales) and in-migrant languages (e.g. Spanish in the United States).
Immersion Bilingual Education: Schooling where some or most subject content is taught through a second language. Pupils in immersion are usually native speakers of a majority language, and the teaching is carefully structured to their needs.
L1/L2: First Language/Second Language.
Language Across the Curriculum: A curriculum approach to language learning that accents language development across all subjects of the curriculum. Language should be developed in all content areas of the curriculum and not just as a subject in its own right. Similar approaches are taken in writing across the curriculum and reading across the curriculum.
Language Maintenance: The continued use of a language, particularly amongst language minorities (for example through bilingual education). The term is often used with reference to policies that protect and promote minority languages.
Language Planning: The development of a deliberate policy to engineer the use of language. Language planning often involves Corpus Planning (the selection, codification and expansion of norms of language), Status Planning (the choice of language varieties for different functions and purposes) and Acquisition Planning (acquiring the language in the family and/or at school).
Language Revitalization: The process of restoring language vitality by promoting the use of a language and its range of functions within the community.
Language Shift: A change from the use of one language to another language within an individual or a language community. This often involves a shift from the minority language to the dominant language of the country. Usually the term means ‘downward’ shift (i.e. loss of a language).
Language Skills: Language skills are usually said to comprise: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each of these can be divided into sub-skills. Language skills refer to specific, observable and clearly definable components such as writing.
Literacy: The ability to read and write in a language.
Majority Language: A high status language usually (but not always) spoken by a majority of the population of a country. ‘Majority’ refers to status and power rather than the numerical size of a language group.
Metalinguistic: Using language to describe language. Thinking about one’s language.
Minority Language: A language of low prestige and low in power. Also usedby some to mean a language spoken by a minority of the population in a country.
Monolingual: A person who knows and/or uses one language.
Passive Bilingualism: Being able to understand (and sometimes read) in a second language without speaking or writing in that second language.
Scaffolding: Building on a student’s existing repertoire of knowledge and understanding. As the student progresses and becomes more of an independent learner, the help given by teachers can be gradually removed.
Sequential Bilingualism: Bilingualism achieved via learning a second language later than the first language. This is distinct from Simultaneous Bilingualism where two languages are acquired concurrently. When a second language is learnt after the age of three, sequential bilingualism is said to occur.
Subtractive Bilingualism: A situation in which a second language is learnt at the expense of the first language, and gradually replaces the first language (e.g. in-migrants to a country or minority language pupils in submersion education).
Target Language: A second or foreign language being learned or taught.
Threshold Level: (1) A level of language competence a person has to reach to gain cognitive benefits from owning two languages. (2) The Threshold Level is used by the Council of Europe to define a minimal level of language proficiency needed to function in a foreign language. Various contexts are specified where languages are used and students are expected to reach specific objectives to attain the threshold level.
Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE): The primary purpose of these US programs is to facilitate a student’s transition to an all-English instructional environment while initially using the native language in the classroom. Transitional bilingual education programs vary in the amount of native language instruction provided and the duration of the program.
Two-Way Programs: Also known as Developmental Bilingual Education, Two-Way Dual Language Programs and Two-Way Bilingual/Immersion Programs. Two languages are used for approximately equal time in the curriculum. Classrooms have a mixture of native speakers of each language.
This Glossary derives from Policy and Practice in Bilingual Education: A Reader Extending the Foundations, by O. García and C. Baker (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1995) and The Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, by Colin Baker and Sylvia Prys Jones (Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 1998).