Teacher and students interacting.

Before I can give you examples that I use for my ELL (English Language Learners) students, you should be familiar with terms such as ELL, BICS, and CALP.


ELLEnglish Language Learners. A person who is in the process of learning English as a second language.

BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills)

What is BICS? It refers to a linguistic skill needed in everyday situations in life. For example, talking to a friend, talking on a cell phone, social face-to-face interactions, are some of the interactions that students who have completed BICS or have become proficient with BICS can do. Typically, these interactions are meaningful, cognitive undemanding, and not specialized in anything. These skills will normally take an ELL about six months to about two years to develop BICS.

CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)

CALP stands for Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency and it focuses on proficiency in academic language or language used in the classroom in many content areas. Academic language is specialized, can be abstract, and it is context reduced. Learners who are CALP proficient, will need to have developed skills such as comparing, classifying, synthesizing, evaluating, and inferring when developing academic competency. Typically, it takes learners five years to develop CALP. Additionally, research from Collier and thomas (1995) have shown that,children with no prior instruction, or no support in native language development at least seven years to develop CALP.”

So why BICS and CALP?

As you can see, there is a huge difference between BICS and CALP. Knowing at what stage a student is, will help teachers understand the appropriate curriculum to provide those students as well as the correct support. Typically, a student is in the process of acquiring BICS will fall into level 1 or a level 2 student. However, a student who has acquired BICS and is or has acquired CALP will be in level 3, 4, or level 5.

The biggest issue with teachers that teach ELL students, and I include myself in this group, is that many times we hear a ELL student talking to other students while having a conversation and we tend to think that they are proficient in understanding and speaking the English language. When we do this, we might classify a student as “fluent” in English. However, the issue with this is that teachers will misjudge the level of academic understanding and when they are analyzing the students work, it’s possible that to the teacher the student is not working at the level that they should be or what their estimated ability should be. This of course has negative consequences which can lead to false interpretations of a ELL’s intelligence level and or motivational levels. This is why it is so important to understand where ELL students knowledge level fall; either it falls on BICS or CALP.

What assignments can I offer my beginning BICS students?

Students who are currently still trying to acquire BICS or are students who have been trying to learn English for less than two years will require picture/word base matching. Many of these students will fall to level 1 or level 2.  Obviously, as the teacher, you will have to determine the level of complexity that the student will need. For example, one of my students recently arrived to the US from a middle eastern country. He didn’t speak any English other than to understand the numbers 1 – 10. For students like this, the best path for them to start getting acclimated to the English language is to start using a computer with the alphabet where students can hear the sound of the letters; interactive alphabet. This is especially true for students who, for example, their primary language is Arabic or another language that doesn’t use the English language alphabet. One website that I have found to be extremely useful is

The website has many different topics to be covered for ELL students. Some of those topics include: Assignments

  • The alphabe
  • Classroom words
  • Classroom tasks
  • Numbers 1- 12
  • and many more…

Primary Use of Home Language

Another option available to students that are just beginning to acquire English is to translate pages on a computer to their first language. There has been some controversy over ELL’s using their home language in class and some educators have argued that using their L1 or home language might be a barrier to them learning English. However, recent research has shown that careful use of students primary language has shown to be beneficial whether, through translation, peer tutoring, bilingual aid, or by assistance from students themselves can help English language learners. It can help in understanding grammar concepts, vocabulary, and instructions.

Assignments for more Advance BICS students

For those students almost proficient in BICS and are ready to move on to CALP there are many assignments that they can complete. Many of those assignments are offered as well by the site and range from pre-intermediate to advance. The include:

  • Reading activities
  • Listening lesson activities
  • Spelling and vocabulary activities
  • and many more lessons provided.


  • Esol courses online Free English Lessons Online (Retrieved from )
  • Ferlazo, Larry Response: ELL Students’ Home Language Is an Asset, Not a ‘Barrier’ Retrieved from (

Additional References

InDesign Basic Definitions

InDesign Defintions.

Understanding the Adobe InDesign User Interface is important, however just as important is to understand the terminology associated with design in general. This post is all about many of the important definitions that students will encounter while learning such applications as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and even Animate.

I have compiled a list of many of the terms that my students must know at the beginning of the year. Many of these terms are seen in the certification test given by Certiport.

This document will be updated on a regular basis as new terms are added.

  1. Font size – is the measurement of type in points instead of inches (1 point = 1/72 inch). When you open an InDesign document, the default size is usually 12 points.
  2. Tracking – refers to the loosening or tightening of a selected block of text.
  3. Kerning – is the process of adding or subtracting space between specific pairs of characters.
  4. Leading – refers to the spacing between lines of text.  Usually the default leading is 120 percent of the letter size for most documents. Typically in long articles or newsletters, less space between lines of text tends to darken the document, while more space will lighten it up.
  5. Font family – a family is a group of fonts that share a basic character construction, like the Arial Family, which comprises Arial Black, Arial Narrow, and Arial alternative.
  6. Application level preferences – Affects work on all documents when the preferences are changed.
  7. Document level preferences – Affects only the active document when the preferences are changed.
  8. INDD – the extension for all InDesign files.
  9. InDesign Templates – InDesign allows you to save files as templates so that you can change the file around in the future without having to recreate it.
  10. INDT – the extension for all InDesign template files.
  11. Margin guides – these guides use purple lines as a default for measurements set up in creating the initial document
  12. Layout guides – they are usually green lines in color and are guidelines dragged out from the top and left-side rulers.
  13. Rectangle frame tool – historically in the printing industry using a rectangle frame is reserved for inserting images or placing images on a document, however, InDesign doesn’t limit the ability to add an image using the rectangle tool.
  14. Bleed  – that is used to describe a document which has images or elements that touch the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge and leaving no white margin. When a document hasbleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimed down.
  15. slug – A slug is usually non-printing Information such as a title and date used to identify a document. It appears on the pasteboard, usually near the bottom of the document. Guides for slugs and bleeds are set up in the New Document dialog screen or Document Setup dialog screen.
  16. Content Indicator – graphic frames that contain content now display a transparent “doughnut” shape.  
  17. Links Panel – A panel that provides information including file size, color mode, and whether the document is linked correctly to files and graphics, so you can update links if needed.
  18. Baseline – in typography is an invisible line that the type sits on.
  19. Superscript – is a percentage of the original font size and will display aligned with the top of the font.
  20. Subscript – is also percentage of a font that are displayed on or below the baseline of the font.
  21. Service provider – can be your commercial printer or web developer or other professional who will provide a service for setting up your document for whatever output media you intend to use.
  22. Preflight – a process in InDesign to check for errors on your document.
  23. Page description language (PDL) – used by the commercial printing industry is created by your desktop publishing application and your computer and defines precise position and composition of images, text, and other elements in documents by mapping each pixel for high-resolution output.
  24. Postscript fonts – are bitmap-type fonts that contain two files: one for screen display and one for printer display.
  25. TrueType font – designated by an icon displaying two Ts, are scalable and were initially created by Microsoft.
  26. Opentype fonts – are the newest members and are also scalable and may include number of additional features, such as swashes, and discretionary ligatures found in many foreign languages.  
  27. Nameplates – the identifying sections located on the first or front page that usually consist of a company logo or identifiable graphic; the formatted title of a newsletter.
  28. Mastheads – nameplates are also referred to as mastheads, although technically they are found on the section of a newsletter that lists the name of the publisher and other pertinent data that may include staff names, contributors, subscription information, addresses, a logo and so on.
  29. Headers – are found in the top portion of the additional pages and have a continuing color scheme, text format for the title, and sometimes an identifiable company logo.
  30. Pica – a standard measurement for print media.  Once inch is the equivalent of 72 points and, whereas 12 points equals one pica.
  31. Master pages – are document templates that a designer can modify to provide a consistency in placed items, page formats, formatting, and guidelines for multiple documents.
  32. Spread – multiple pages butted next each other or viewed together, such as the two pages visible in a book or magazine.
  33. Pasteboard -is the document working area that includes all pages.
  34. Opacity – it is the amount of blended colors.
  35. Current page number markers – are markers placed on the document that always displays the correct page number even if you add or remove or rearrange pages in a document.
  36. Workplace – is the description of various interface elements in InDesign, that can be arranged and customized to improve workflow?
  37. Library – feature allows you to save and reuse text graphics.
  38. Pages panel – can be used to move pages, duplicate pages and edit the size of the page.

Adobe InDesign UI and Tools Study Guide

Adobe InDesign Tutorials

Although there are many different types of study tools available on the web for Adobe InDesign’s user interface, I created my own. I have done so because I find that many of the study guides are some what bloated. By limiting the content provided to students, I chunk my material and this makes it easier for my students to process and discuss in class without feeling overwhelmed by the additional information.

I would recommend that this study guide be used with the actual Adobe InDesign application preferably the 2015 CC version. Have students use each tool as the names are reviewed and discuss what each tool does.

A. Menu bar – All the menu options available in InDesign.

B. Toolbar – the location of all the tools available in Indesign.

C. Top (Horizontal) Ruler – The horizontal ruler or top ruler displaying the unit of measurement chosen.

D. Left (Vertical) Ruler – The vertical ruler or left ruler displaying the unit of measurement chosen.

E. Panel Group – The default location of where all the panels are grouped and located.

F. Workspace – The workspace is a convenient way to access all the elements of the User Interface in Adobe InDesign. It allows you to create new workspaces and edit existing ones.

G. Preflight Panel – A panel that is tasked with notifying errors on a working document.

H. Quick Apply – A way to quickly apply certain styles and designs to many different types of elements.

I.  _Customize Control Panel – A way to quickly customize many important features in InDesign.

J. _Working Document – The working document is the main document that is being worked on.

A. Selection tool – allows the moving of a frame or selecting elements on the working document.

B. Direct selection tool – allows the movement of elements inside of a frame.

C. Page tool – Is essentially a link to the page panel where one can add, remove, and relocate pages for a specific project.

D. Gap Tool – A tool which allows the user to create gaps between different elements on a page.

E. Content collector tool – A tool used to collect content for quicker use when designing.

F. Type tool – Also known as the text, or font tool it is the tool used to create a text box, which will contain text.

G. Line tool – A tool that is tasked with drawing lines of all types.

H. Pen tool – a tool used to create and remove anchor points.

I. Pencil tool – a tool used to create free hand lines just like using a pencil.

J. Rectangle frame tool – a tool used to create rectangle frames that can be used (historically) to place images.

K. Ellipse tool – a tool that can be used to draw circles and ellipses.

L. Scissors tool – a tool used to cut.

M. Free transform tool – a tool that can be used to distort elements of InDesign.

N. Gradient Tool – a tool used to add colorful gradients to a vector shape or typography.

O. Gradient feather tool – a tool used to adjust the direction of gradients.

P. Notes tool – a tool used to add notes to a document.

Q. Eyedropper tool – a tool used to select the pixel color from an element.

R. Hand tool – a tool used to move the entire document about the Adobe application.

S. Zoom tool – a tool used to zoom in and zoom out on a document.

T. Default fill and stroke tool – a tool used to set the fill and stroke tool back to its default settings.

U. Fill and stroke tool – Two tools in one. One tool is used to change the fill color of an element while the other applies a stroke color to an element.

Adobe InDesign Calendar Assignment

Students are to create a calendar for the Month of November.  The calendar should be done in portrait orientation (create a new document Print & Letter).  It should have an image of some form of landscape or some type of other themes, as long it is appropriate, (the student can choose the picture) at the top of the calendar.  Just below the picture should be the name of the month (November).  Below the month should be the year of the calendar month.  Just below that, there should be a table that will accommodate all the days of the month (Hint: every month has 7 columns and November has 5 rows).  

Don’t forget that the header of the table should be the days of the week starting with Sunday and ending with Saturday.

Please use the example provided as a visual guide.  

Gatefold Project For High School Students (Adobe InDesign)

Many different types of brochures can be used to build an image for your company, promote a specific event such as a party, update a specific products info, or for many other things.

This project requires students to think about a product or service that they might want to advertise for themselves, or for another company.   Students will be required to create a brochure that has two folding flaps in front of the primary page.

Additional Info: To lay out a gate fold piece in your design or layout program, use one page for the front and one page for the back, and measure out where the folds will be with guides (see right figure). Also, bleeds should only be set on the outside edges of the piece and must be .125” (1/8”) in size, but the page size should be defined as the final trim size.

Example of a Gatefold.

Image result for example gatefold brochure    Image result for example gatefold brochure

Instructions: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.