InterCom, a customizable weekly newsletter for language professionals, is provided by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) at the University of Oregon. InterCom is sponsored through a Title VI Language Resource Center grant.

Topic of the Week: Allowing, Trusting, and Empowering Learners to Shape their Own Experience

By Christopher Daradics, CASLS Language Technician

Language teachers know as well as anyone that the process of becoming a competent, engaged target language participant is often a slow and tedious process. Teachers can help students stay motivated and engaged throughout their journey by orienting learners to the dynamic, co-constructed (collaborative and co-created) nature of communication and the related fact that learners have the ability to guide and shape their own (language) experience.

By raising learners’ awareness to the fact that social coordination and collaboration are the bedrock of communication and that shared understanding is co-constructed, learners can adapt their approach to communication as more empowered participants in the collaborative sense-making process.

Regardless of ability level, learners can identify and enhance their pragmatic consciousness by learning how to read and adapt to their given context with whatever means they have on hand (linguistic or otherwise). This perspective encourages learners to identify themselves as bona fide communicators, increasingly capable of manifesting their own language encounters, outcomes, and identity.

This kind of pragmatic, person-centered approach can be integrated into any lesson to demonstrate the value and trust we as educators place in learners’ ability to shape their own experience, even at the most basic level. This week’s lesson, designed for the first day of language class, presumes no prior knowledge and still empowers students to be active co-creators in the communicative process.

Throughout the lesson, from the initial question “[What’s] your name?” to students choosing which person to throw the ball to, learners are invited to participate in the subtle and complex miracle of sense making. They are taking in new information and enacting new patterns of interaction. 

Through explicit narration by the instructor, students’ attention can be explicitly drawn to the pragmatic elements as the interactions unfold (e.g. the rising intonation in the question, the instructor’s body position and gesture as each student is asked their name, and students’ ability to choose their volume, intonation, affect, and who to engage). Going further, learners’ attention can be directed to their own sense of agency as playful (or not) collaborators in the communicative process, even in a lesson designed for the very first day of class. Through meta-discourse (the explicit narration mentioned above), playful engagement, and iterative development of the topic the salience, dynamism, and active nature of co-constructed communication will become more apparent.

At any point in our work as language educators we can address these and similar topics encouraging our students to notice their own behavior and assess the quality of their engagement, not as a manipulative tool to get students to behave how we want them to behave, but rather to inspire them to stay motivated and engaged as they shape their own (target language) experience with a sense of empowerment, trust, and validation in their ability to orient themselves in whatever communicative environments they may encounter.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Fellow Misaki Kato Wins Lokey Fellowship

Congratulations to CASLS Graduate Research Assistant Misaki Kato for winning the University of Oregon’s Lokey Doctoral Science Fellowship for the 2019-20 academic year! This prestigious fellowship is awarded each year to only four UO doctoral students with strong academic records and demonstrated promise for outstanding research careers. Misaki is a student in the Linguistics department and has been working on a project to analyze learner interactions while playing the game ECOPOD, which CASLS developed several years ago.

Misaki also works in the UO Speech Perception and Production Lab with her dissertation advisor, Associate Professor Melissa Baese-Berk. Here she pursues her interest in the production and perception of non-native speech, how people acquire a second language language, how they become able to produce and perceive non-native sounds and successfully communicate in the second language. Looking forward to her final graduate year, Misaki says, “I’m happy to have time to work solely on my dissertation research and be able to explore options for post-doc positions and have some time to apply for grants for post-doctoral fellowships.”

CASLS director Julie Sykes says, “Although we’re sad that Misaki will not be part of our team next year, we’re delighted that she has received this award and wish her the best with her future research. Her work at CASLS has allowed us to look into new lines of research inquiry that would not have been possible any other way.”

Language Corner

Introduction to Translanguaging

Source: Dual Language Back to Quick Links


Angela Palmieri has written an excellent introduction to the concept of translanguaging and its importance in dual language instruction. She writes, "It goes beyond code switching and translation because it refers to the process of making meaning and simultaneous literacy. Code-switching refers to the alternation between languages in specific communicative situations, whereas translanguaging is a process of making meaning, and the focus is on how the language user draws upon different linguistic and cognitive resources to make sense. Translanguaging theory recognizes that all people, including monolinguals and bilinguals, have one linguistic repertoire, learned through dynamic social interactions, and from which they select and employ features to make meaning in context (Vogel & Garcia, 2017)."

Although the focus of the article is on the importance of translanguaging in dual language instruction, Palmieri also points out its importance in all language teaching contexts: "It is important for educators to understand that students are always translanguaging-selecting appropriate features from their language repertoire (Vogel & Garcia, 2017). Not allowing for translanguaging will promote the students' linguistic insecurity, leaving them in a state of incongruency as they evaluate their bilingualism according to isolated monolingual standards and practices. Isolating languages of instruction in all types of language education classrooms will result in the students' failure to acquire new linguistic features and will not develop their bilingualism (Vogel & Garcia, 2017)."

Read the full article at

Resources for Black History Month

Source: FLTEACH Back to Quick Links

An FLTEACH listserv users recently requested ideas for Black History Month, which is February every year. Responses include specific resources for French classes, as well as discussions of integrating content throughout the year. 

Here is the link to the initial query:

From there, click on "Next" by "By Topic" to read other teachers' responses.

How to Differentiate Instruction (Without Losing Your Mind)

Source: Education Week Back to Quick Links


In an animated video published by Education Week last fall, Larry Ferlazzo explained that differentiating instruction is really about getting to know your students and being flexible with the ways they demonstrate their learning ( It is not, in fact, about spending your evenings planning a separate lesson for each student. 

In this article, Education Week publishes two more videos about differentiation featuring Ferlazzo and veteran teacher Katie Hull Sypnieski. In the first one, Ferlazzo and Hull Sypnieski describe techniques they use to differentiate lessons for English-language learners. Those include strategies like pairing up students of different language levels and playing classroom videos at slower speeds. 

In the second video, the teachers talk through the kinds of questions they ask themselves when planning a lesson for a multi-ability classroom. What will students do if they finish early? How can the materials be modified to make them useful for all types of learners? 

Access both videos at

Online Role-Playing Games for Writing

Source: TESOL Blog Back to Quick Links


Betsy Gilliland interviews Lin Zhou, a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa whose dissertation project involves students playing an interactive role-playing computer game in class in preparation for academic writing. Read the interview and learn more about game design for language learning at

Ideas for Using Songs to Teach

Source: Madame's Musings Back to Quick Links


Lisa Shepard shares a method for using the Picture Talk technique for introducing a target language song to a language class. Her blog post also includes additional activities and links to other ideas for using songs in the classroom. Read it at

How to Create Adventure Stories Using Google Slides and Keynote

Source: Free Technology for Teachers Back to Quick Links


Richard Byrne explains how teachers can use tools such as Google slides and Keynote to build creative presentations. One of those overlooked features is linking slides to other slides. If used correctly and with a little planning, students can create choose-your-own-adventure stories by using the slide linking feature.

Learn how to create your adventure stories using Google Slides at

Learn how to create your adventure stories using Keynote, at

Beware of Time-wasting Low Level Technology Learning

Source: Cool Cat Teacher Back to Quick Links


In this ten-minute podcast listen to Vicki Davis talk to Tom Murray, the Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education located in Washington, D.C. In this podcast, Tom talks about his concern that teachers often celebrate low-level learning. “Just because something is digital does not mean it is any good,” says Tom. 

To learn what he means by low level learning, visit

Making Video Lessons to Use in Class

Source: Kid World Citizen Back to Quick Links


In this podcast listen to Becky Morales talking about creating video lessons to use in the classroom. She is looking at 10 different platforms and methods to mix audio, images, and videos for learners, such as: Edpuzzle, Vizia, and Clips. She will also speak with Angie Torre, who’s going to share how she records conversations for her students to learn from. 

For more information, visit

Bilingualism No Problem for Children with Down Syndrome

Source: Language Magazine Back to Quick Links


Children with Down syndrome can and do become bilingual. Initial findings of a research study at Bangor University suggest that speaking two languages is not in any way detrimental to the language development of children with Down syndrome. Bangor University is working with the Down’s Syndrome Association in Wales to examine language in Welsh–English bilingual children with Down syndrome and children exposed to English only. Researchers tested expressive and receptive language skills, as well as phonological awareness, the ability to manipulate speech sounds, in both languages. The English of the two groups was found to be at the same level.

Rebecca Ward, postgraduate researcher working on the project, explains: “We are finding that there are no differences between the English of the bilingual children and the English of the monolingual children with Down syndrome. In addition, their Welsh skills are in line with the skills of typically developing children of the same developmental age.” The research team is led by Dr. Eirini Sanoudaki, who is senior lecturer in language acquisition at Bangor University and has been researching language in children with Down syndrome for over ten years. Dr. Sanoudaki explains: “These are exciting findings and an important step towards supporting bilingual families. Parents of children with Down syndrome have been traditionally advised against exposing their children to two languages, for fear that the children would not be able to cope. We are now seeing that there is no basis for such fears. The children are making excellent progress in both languages.

“Children with Down syndrome can speak two languages. We are happy to be able to provide information which can support and empower families in their decisions.”

Game Ideas

Source: Mme Moghtader Back to Quick Links


French teacher and blogger Sarah Moghtader has already assembled a collection of language classroom games ( In a recent blog post, she describes three more whole-class games: Alibi, Celebrity (which your InterCom Editor knows as "Salad Bowl"), and the Newlywed Game. Read the descriptions of these three games at

Six Online Whiteboard Drawing Tools

Source: Free Technology for Teachers Back to Quick Links


In this article you will find a list of six useful online whiteboard and conferencing tools such as, Scratchwork and Draw Chat, that can be used for free. On these online platforms you can draw, type, share images, and host meetings with your students. 

To learn more, visit

Professional Development

Webchat on World Language Assessment

Source: FLTEACH Back to Quick Links

From the FLTEACH listserv:

Join our FLENJ host Dana Pilla for "Assessment in the WL Classroom" with guest Laura Sexton on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm EST. Building assessments that reflect purposeful communication is essential to continual growth. Explore different measures to assess performance towards proficiency as well as strategies to prepare for such assessments. Reserve your spot for this 60 minute live learning exchange online with members of our FLENJ board and guests. Register at:

$25 ($5 for FLENJ members)
1 hr professional development credit
Nathan Lutz
Primary School French Teacher
Global Learning Coordinator 

Lutz, N. [FLTEACH] Interactive web chat on WL assessment. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 2 Feb 2019).


Book: Idiomatic Mastery in a First and Second Language

Source: Multilingual Matters Back to Quick Links


Idiomatic Mastery in a First and Second Language
By Monica Karlsson
Published by Multilingual Matters

The comprehension, retention and production of idiomatic expressions is one of the most difficult areas of the lexicon for second language (L2) learners, even very advanced students, to master. This book investigates this under-researched and interesting aspect of language acquisition, shedding light on both conventional uses of idiomatic expressions as well as creative variant forms. The chapters in the book delve into different aspects of idiomatic mastery: students’ comprehension of canonically used idioms in both their first and second language; the effects of multimedia and visualization techniques on learners’ comprehension and retention of L2 idioms; students’ misinterpretations of L2 idioms; L2 learners’ comprehension of creative idiom variants and their use of idioms in free composition writing.

Visit the publisher's website at

Book: Selected Studies on Social Sciences

Source: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Back to Quick Links


Selected Studies on Social Sciences
Edited by Ahmet Kırkkılıç, Enes Emre Başar, and Yusuf Söylemez
Published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing

This collection of essays explores educational issues confronting educators and researchers from various disciplines. They are grouped into four sections, with the first, “Business Economics and Management”, discussing concepts such as contemporary urban theories, multiculturalism and the informal economy. The second section, “Linguistics and Literature,” encompasses topics such as Russian-Chinese bilingualism and training in Russian phraseology for foreigners. The third section, “Education” considers issues such as language teaching and use of learning cycle model and the Socratic Seminar Technique. The fourth section, “History and Geography,” looks at history education, historical consciousness, and cultural geography. This book will mainly appeal to educators, researchers, and students involved in social sciences.

Visit the publisher's website at

Annual Report 2017 from International and Foreign Language Education

Source: U.S. Department of Education Back to Quick Links

The U.S. Department of Education, International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office, is proud to announce the release of its first annual report, which provides in-depth information about the Fulbright-Hays and Title VI grant programs, along with program performance data, outcomes, and impact stories from grantees.

The purpose of Annual Report 2017 is to highlight the one-year results of IFLE programs and provide a snapshot of the ways in which funded programs have benefited the nation’s students, educators, institutions, and the nation at large. The Title VI and Fulbright-Hays grantee community is innovative and resourceful, leveraging federal funds with institutional and other external support to broaden the reach of these programs. The information in this report gives visibility to their project activities and their efforts to strengthen and maintain U.S. expertise in world languages, international studies, and global competitiveness, and to make international education and foreign language learning opportunities more widely available to the nation’s students, educators, and institutions.

Access the report at

U.S. Department of Education. IFLE Newsletter - February 2019. 14 Feb 2019.

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