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The Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach (CALLA) is an instructional model for second and foreign language learners based on cognitive theory and research. CALLA integrates instruction in priority topics from the content curriculum, development of the language skills needed for learning in school, and explicit instruction in using learning strategies for academic tasks.

The goals of CALLA are for students to learn essential academic content and language and to become independent and self-regulated learners through their increasing command over a variety of strategies for learning in school.

CALLA can be used in ESL, EFL, bilingual, foreign language, and general education classrooms.

CALLA’s principal objectives are to assist students in:

  • Valuing their own prior knowledge and cultural experiences, and relating this knowledge to academic learning in a new language and culture
  • Learning the content knowledge and the language skills that are most important for their future academic success;
  • Developing language awareness and critical literacy
  • Selecting and using appropriate learning strategies and study skills that will develop academic knowledge and processes
  • Developing abilities to work successfully with others in a social context
  • Learning through hands-on, inquiry-based, and cooperative learning tasks
  • Increasing motivation for academic learning and confidence in their ability to be successful in school
  • Evaluating their own learning and planning how to become more effective and independent learners.

CALLA was developed by Anna Uhl Chamot and J. Michael O’Malley, and is being implemented in approximately 30 school districts in the United States as well as in several other countries.

See a PowerPoint presentation on the five phases of CALLA: