Esl developmental Continuum b stages b stages

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ESL Developmental Continuum – B Stages

B Stages

Stage BL – Speaking and listening


Standards and progression profiles

BL beginning


Students beginning to work towards the standard at BL have very little or no oral English. They do not respond meaningfully to English. They will join in activities, watching and copying what other students do in the classroom but may not speak. They may spontaneously repeat words or phrases without understanding their meaning. They may not speak in the classroom except to same language peers. They may initially attempt to communicate with the teacher using their own language. They are likely to listen to extended texts in English with visual support.

BL progressing towards


Students progressing towards the standard at BL are settling into situations where English is the dominant language. They begin to understand that communication with teachers and peers needs to be conducted in English. They begin to learn the very basic oral English needed to manage learning in an English-speaking classroom, where the teacher adapts spoken texts to assist the students. Through their first language experiences, they understand that different forms of language and levels of politeness are used in different situations and contexts. They begin to adapt their limited, emerging English language resources to respond to new communicative and functional demands. They recognise the importance of non-verbal communication. They begin to become familiar with patterns in the sounds, intonation, rhythm, grammar and meaning of English.

BL Standard


At Stage BL, students communicate simply but effectively in familiar, basic social and classroom contexts, using simple formulaic and creative structures. They learn through English, well supported by context. They contribute relatively complex ideas through simple English, and use simple English to respond to the ideas of others. Students’ English is characterised by varying grammatical accuracy, a short ‘telegraphic’ structure, simple subject/verb/object construction and overgeneralisation of rules. They use common adjectives to describe or add emphasis. They use repetitive grammar patterns copied from stories, songs, rhymes or the media. Students’ pronunciation, stress and intonation are comprehensible, but carry elements of first language pronunciation. They use some basic communication strategies, asking for repetition, and questioning to check understanding, clarify or confirm. They use some basic strategies to initiate and sustain simple conversations in English, restating, repeating or re-pronouncing as appropriate. 

Indicators of progress

Indicators of progress in the Speaking and Listening dimension are organised into four aspects:

  • Texts and responses to texts focuses on producing and responding to oral English texts used for social interaction and in the school context across the curriculum.

  • Cultural conventions of language use focuses on understanding and using spoken English in a variety of contexts and identifying how different contexts affect the way spoken English is used and interpreted.
  • Linguistic structures and features focuses on control over the structures and features of spoken English.

  • Maintaining and negotiating communication focuses on the strategies students at this stage typically use to speak in and learn English.

Stage BL: Texts and responses to texts

At the end of Stage BL, students can routinely use spoken English to do the following things:


  • identify basic items of information from short spoken texts, e.g. known vocabulary (identifying animal names, colours), time markers

  • attend to tone, intonation and context when listening, e.g. differentiating between questions, instructions and statements

  • follow simple instructions and understand simple, predictable questions

  • respond appropriately verbally or non verbally when spoken to, e.g. indicate agreement/non-agreement


  • make simple requests/express needs using actions, single words and short phrases, e.g. go toilet? This my pencil? Drink?

  • give some basic information about self using short formulaic or single word responses, e.g. name, age, family details, likes/dislikes

  • use intonation to enhance the meaning of simple utterances, e.g. my pen?/my pen!/my pen

  • negotiate familiar social situations and learning activities with the teacher or with friends, by initiating, suggesting, agreeing, disagreeing, requesting assistance

  • enhance own spoken texts with appropriate gestures and facial expression
  • when talking about pictures, identify basic items of information, e.g. known vocabulary (names of people or animals in the picture, single words for how they are feeling, colours, sizes).

Stage BL: Cultural conventions of language use

At the end of Stage BL, students’ understanding of the contexts and purposes of spoken texts is shown when they:


  • follow simple instructions by relying on key words and immediate context, e.g. line up, stand up, sit down

  • respond to context and intonation, e.g. know when a conversation is serious or humorous

  • know when it is appropriate to speak or to listen during class interactions

  • begin to recognise word patterns/rhyming words


  • initiate social interactions and use appropriate social expressions, e.g. please, thank you, may I play?

  • use acceptable social formulas, e.g. know that some words, gestures or intonation are inappropriate in certain contexts

  • interact appropriately in context, e.g. continue an interaction in the same manner as begun by the other speaker

  • use intonation appropriately to assist meaning.

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