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B-SLIM: Bilash's Success-Guided Language Instructional Model

B-SLIM Overview

We talk so much about self directed learning and have structured policies and proposed practices around the assumption that all learners are equally self-directed.  However, practitioners know that not all learners are equally self-directed.  In fact, teachers also know from experience that some learners need to be taught to be self-directed.  By being based on students’ ‘feelings of success’ in learning a second language (SL), B-SLIM (Bilash's Success-guided Language Instruction Model) incorporates enough scaffolding (structure and support) at each phase of a lesson or series of lessons for learners who are less self sufficient to succeed while simultaneously providing opportunities and direction for the more self-directed student to push forward.  For example, while a less self-directed student might need to follow a template several times before really ‘getting’ the structure of a form such as a brief event review (in order to be able to create one on his/her own as an OUTPUT or 'proving it' assignment), a more self-directed learner may only need to hear or see the model once and be able to replicate and creatively alter it!

B-SLIM Model

What are the theoretical underpinnings of the B-SLIM model?

  1. Cognitive Science (Piaget, Vygotsky, Gagne) (We organize knowledge of different types into schema through mental processes.  As learners who are active participants we require scaffolded instructional material that utilizes demonstrations, illustrative examples and corrective feedback to maximize memory retention.)
  2. Constructivism (Bruner) (We construct our own understanding of the world by generating our own rules and mental models to make sense of our experiences.)
  3. Developmentalism (Ryle, Schwitzgebel) (We learn concepts and dispositions in a gradual way frequently passing through periods of being "in between" genuine understanding and failure to understand.)

What are the goals of the B-SLIM model?

    1. to develop self directed learners, especially in second languages
    2. to ensure that every learner succeeds at each phase of the learning process by maximizing exposure to concepts through all learning styles/intelligences and encouraging intellectual/thinking growth in systematically developed steps
    3. to help students develop all aspects of language by applying research findings from all areas of second language learning and acquisition (language awareness, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, situations- fluency-accuracy, culture and Culture, learning strategies, listening comprehension, speaking, writing, reading, forms, skills, content, motivation-attitude)
    4. to ensure that learners can transfer what they have learned in one familiar context to new contexts.
    5. to learn language and to learn through language.
    6. to identify success in learning in concrete provable terms (assessment for learning and assessment of learning).

What are the characteristics of the B-SLIM model?

  1. linear
  2. hierarchical
  3. recursive
  4. success-driven

It is linear in that each phase of B-SLIM is designed along a continuum and activities at the beginning of the phase are simpler (less cognitively demanding) than those at the end.  For example, activities at the beginning of the ‘getting it’ phase are more structured and focused than those at the end of the ‘getting it’ phase. The same is true about ‘using it’ activities. 

Similarly, each type of input or 'giving it' can be placed along a continuum so that L2 learners have specific goals at beginner, intermediate and advanced stages.  For example, being able to “speak” for a beginner may mean saying isolated words or short sentences with long pauses between them while speaking for an intermediate learner may be described as the ability to express simple and complex sentences in dialogue about familiar topics without pauses and with minimal errors.

It is hierarchical in that each phase is more difficult than its predecessor (it calls upon more cognitive resources than previous phases).  Furthermore, with the progression through each phase the teacher’s roles change and the class time should involve more and more time for students to produce or create in the L2.  However, just as one who is going up a set of stairs between the second and third floor cannot say precisely which floor they are on when they are going up those stairs, some activities may appear to belong to both the previous and next phases at the same time, being advanced versions of one phase and simpler versions of another. 

As a recursive model, the teacher can introduce an activity at ANY phase of the model and recognize whether the activity is appropriate for the student(s) or not; if it is too difficult teachers can clearly see what supports students need in order to progress through the phase and beyond and provide them.  If the task is not sufficiently challenging more advanced activities can be foreseen and provided.  Furthermore, the B-SLIM fully acknowledges that sometimes learners think they understand something but only when they begin to use or apply it do they recognize that their understanding is not totally clear.  Thus arises an opportunity for student questions, which is an opportunity for the student to take initiative to be a self-directed learner.  It also recognizes that some learners can mentally process information so rapidly that they can appear to ‘skip’ the ‘getting it’ phase (or that they may make hierarchical leaps through acquisition of some vocabulary, grammar or cultural features).

Lastly, the B-SLIM model has at its core, the goal of making learners feel successful.  The model is success-driven in that it provides the necessary structure and support for students to feel successful at all stages of the learning process.  For example, in order to student success with oral language during the ‘getting it’ or ‘using it’ stages, teachers may want to provide visual supports, which will allow students to produce more than what they may be able to produce without this added support. By facilitating learner success through B-SLIM, teachers are able to increase positive feelings and attitudes in students which in turn increases student motivation and investment in the language

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How can teachers use the B-SLIM model in the classroom?

Watch the video of this beginner teacher to see how she uses the model in her classroom. Does she realize she uses the model? Give an example of how she uses the model to plan and scaffold activities.


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Copyright © Olenka Bilash May 2009 ~ Last Modified January 2011