Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA)
Category : Learning / Teaching Strategies
Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach or CALLA is based on cognitive learning theory in which students are viewed as mentally active participants in the teacher-students interaction. The mental activity of learners is describe by the application of prior knowledge to new problems, the search for meaning in incoming information higher level thinking and the developing ability to adjust one’s own learning. The CALLA model recommend ways in which the teacher can make the most of this mental activity by asking students to reflect on their own learning and expand a strategy approach to learning and problem solving (1995).
What is Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA)?
CALLA is a cognitive strategy directly related to grammar learning (2004). According to (1990), CALLA is the use of available information to guess meaning of new items, predicts outcomes or fill in missing information (2004). (1996) used the word “induction” to define the strategy of figuring out rules from language input (2004). Induction was defined by (1987), as the process of making up rules based on language analysis (2004).
Ideas behind CALLA
According to (2007), CALLA to second language instruction makes use of students’ cognitive language learning and comprehension strategies. This method is grounded in the study of cognitive processes used by language learners. For example, the cognitive approach makes use of the learners’ prior knowledge to aid their comprehension and is based on research from cognitive psychology regarding the role of schemas in understanding and information retention (p. 43). According to (2000); (1994) and (2005), CALLA is a task-based instructional method that aims to empower English Language Learners (ELL) students to develop their own learning strategies and control their own cognitive processes (2007).
As the students become more familiar with effective learning techniques and strategies, they are encouraged to explore topics in a less structured and more self-directed manner. As a consequence, CALLA offers the context for students to progress naturally through the cognitive, associative and autonomous stages of learning (2007).
According to (2007), Teachers who are implementing the said method uses materials drawn from major content areas such as science and history to develop students’ academic language skills and to provide direct instruction in learning strategies (). This type of instructional program will help to minimize the ELL students’ getting hold of both language and content knowledge (1994).
Components of CALLA
CALLA methodology has four components (2000;1994; 2005). (2007) said that the first components is when the content topic is aligned with grade-level curricula that ELL students will encounter after they exit an ESL program and are placed in regular grade-level classrooms. Second, all of the four domains of language, which are the speaking, listening, reading and writing, are included in daily lessons. Third, through cognitively demanding activities, ELL students develop academic language skills in English that are needed to persuade or justify their opinions, analyze problems, evaluate results and make predictions. Fourth, explicit learning-strategy instruction is emphasized (p. 30).
Types of Learning Strategies
According to (1999); (2005) and (1996), ELL students are taught four types of learning strategies which are the cognitive strategies, metacognitive strategies, social/ affective strategies and crosslinguistic strategies (2007). Cognitive strategies enable learners to manipulate information by categorizing, summarizing or linking new concepts to prior knowledge (1994). By utilizing metacognitive strategies, learners determine which learning strategies are best suited to a given task (1977). Social/affective strategies help students to control their emotions in order to lower angst, inspire themselves to ask questions and work with their classmates or other people to gather information, consult meaning, enhance understanding content material and widen language skills naturally (1994). The last strategic type is the crosslinguistic strategies; this type of strategy enables students to represent information on their prior knowledge of their native language to understand information in English ( 2007). According to (2007), Monolingual students differs bilingual students in many ways. Unlike monolingual students, bilingual students tend to have unique way of negotiating meaning. Some bilingual students find it more effective to paraphrase text, while others tend to translate sentence word by word. Code switching and cognate recognition are often found among learning strategies that more successful bilingual learners use (2005).
Lesson Planning using CALLA methodology
Teachers that are using CALLA methodology incorporate five sequential instructional phases in planning and preparing their lesson plans. The five phases are: the preparation phase, the presentation phase, the practice phase, the evaluation phase and the expansion phase (1994). During the preparation phase, teachers will provide student with an overview about the entire lesson theme and guide them to think about what are their knowledge with accordance to the topic. The teachers should also explain the result of what students should bring about after the lesson. According to (2007), Effective teaching clearly post the content, language and learning strategy objectives so that the students will know what they will learn, the reason why the concepts and skills are important for the lesson and how they will accomplish the learning. When planning each lesson, teachers must be aware of the language that they are going to use in objectives that the language that will reflect the higher-order thinking required to accomplish the outcome of the lesson ().
Presentation phase is done after the general presentation of the new concept. During this phase, teachers must employ different presentation modes or medium such as visual, aural and kinesthetic. This is to help the students regardless of their preferred learning style, can understand the new idea or model (2007).
Practice phase of CALLA lesson focus on making the students to participate in a hands-on or practical cooperative learning activities. This will help students to gain knowledge and gather information from each other and expand their language through interaction with their classmates ( 2007).
During evaluation phase, the students will check the level of their performance and effectiveness of the learning strategy that they implemented during the lesson ( 2007).
The last phase is the expansion. During this phase, students are encouraged to apply, relate and use the new information and skills to meaningful activity or an existing real-life problem (2007).
Advantage and Disadvantage of CALLA Methodology
With the use of CALLA methodology, it will help students to develop their academic language proficiency while they are learning strategy that best matches their cognitive learning style as well as the assigned project. I due course, it will enable the students to transfer the strategy to a new task (2000;1994; 2005).
CALLA methodology will help the students to stand on their own and learn to participate in the class programs and activities. This method will enable the students to be more discipline by studying in advance those lessons that have been given in every beginning of a lesson. CALLA methodology will help the students to develop their speaking and listening skills. Another advantage of this method is, it enables students to develop their logical and academic knowledge and skills as well as their English or any language proficiency and improving their communication skills.
CALLA methodology also helps teachers to think or apply new aural, visual, verbal and kinesthetic strategies in order for them to get the attention of their student. These enable teachers to become creative for the lessons and eventually lead to the learning of the students.
The main drawback of this methodology is that the entire learning process is controlled by the students. Teachers must follow all the phases correctly in order for them to acquire the desire outcome of the strategy. Another problem is that if the level of prior knowledge of each and every student is different, this is the reason why this method is not applicable to a very large number of students.
Application of CALLA
CALLA methodology has been widely used since first introduce it in 1987. It has been a great help for many of teachers especially in different parts of USA. According to (2002), CALLA targets three types of students: those students who have started to develop their English communicative skills, yet lack in academic language proficiency; those students whose academic skills in their native language are mostly proficient, yet not fully transferred into English; and those students who are bilingual English-dominant but with no academic language skills in either language.
The CALLA methodology will be a great help for my future lesson. First is the application of four phases of the method. Before starting each lesson to any of my future class, there will be a preliminary exam or diagnostic test that will measure the knowledge of each student regarding the lesson. This will help me to have an idea about who are those students that I need to give more attention, focus and time. This will also guide me for my lesson plan if there is necessary modification that I need to do. I will also explain to them the reason why we have to learn those topics and what are the importance of those knowledge and information in our daily life. Different lesson will be presented using visual presentation in form of text, figures, graphs and pictures. This is to help the students to understand more because pictures will be a great help in informing them about a certain topic. Using the technology of computer such as power point, it will be easy for me to get their attention by applying different color, slide design and different graphical, visual and sound effects. This will awaken the curiosity of the students and eventually lead to a high level of interest. The application of aural presentation or the use of musical tone will be a great help since it have been said that it is much easier to memorize a song than a poem. By using different songs that are related to the subject, topic or lesson, it will create a calm and homely atmosphere that will let the students to relax and absorb the lesson. Kinesthetic presentation will also be helpful; to be sleepy in a class is inevitable especially if the lesson is presented using verbal or just a plain text visual presentation. To prevent this, I will prepare a dancing music that is again related to the lesson to let their muscle flex, let their blood circulate and boost their energy and eventually help to heightened their interest.
During the practice phase, I will create different group reports and class competition in order for them to participate in the class. I will also apply the concept of boys vs. girls. I will assign different groups with their respective leaders to present various topics with accordance to the lesson. I will also give them the freedom to choose what kind or type of presentation they want to use whether a role play, news casting or even a just a simple verbal report. This will help them to improve their social communication as well as their self confidence while learning.
Evaluation phase will be a series of test and exam on what they have learned from the lesson. I will also let them rate the performance of their performance by letting their classmates to give comments about their presentation.
After every lesson, I will ask my class to submit reaction paper on how they can apply the concept of their lesson to the real world and how it can help them to survive in their daily life.