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.


NCSSFL-ACTFL Global Can-Do Benchmarks

So far in our July-August series on curriculum development, we've laid out some best practices and then elaborated on the first one, backwards design. In this week's feature article we introduce a helpful tool that will help in developing good performance objectives (something we'll explore more next week), align with national standards, prioritize communication of meaning over grammatical patterns, and incorporate goal setting, learner reflection, and proficiency-oriented feedback: the NCSSFL-ACTFL Global Can-Do Benchmarks. We will explore to to use these benchmarks more in coming Topic of the Week articles and Activities of the Week.

Topic of the Week: NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: A Framework for Considering What Your Students Can Do

by Julie Sykes, CASLS Director.

In 2014, the National Council of State Supervisors for Foreign Languages (NCSSFL) and the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) released the results of a collaborative effort towards aligning NCSSFL Linguafolio®/Can-Do Statements with ACTFL’s Language Proficiency Benchmarks.  The resulting cohesive document provides benchmarks for instructors in curriculum design that can be targeted at a variety of modes and levels, as well across all proficiency levels. The document can be found at:

NCSSFL also provides guidelines for using the Can-Do Statements in classroom instruction and classroom design. They suggest Linguafolio is especially useful for:

  • Differentiated Instruction - using the Can-Do Statements as a diagnostic tool allows instructors to tailor instruction to the needs of their learners.
  • Curriculum Design and Unit/Lesson Design -  the Can-Do's serve as benchmarks to set time-specific learning outcomes. (See an example application in this week’s Activity of the Week)
  • Assessment - evaluation can be designed around a variety of assessment and evaluation needs.

More resources related to using the Can-Do statements in your classroom can be found on NCSSFL’s website and through CASLS’ professional development resources.


Linguafolio Online Network:

CASLS’ Linguafolio Online is a digital e-portfolio that includes the newly released NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. For more information see:

Activity of the Week

  • Speed Dating and Self-Assessment

    Stephanie Knight is the Language Technology Specialist for CASLS at the University of Oregon. This activity was developed in order to introduce teachers to LFO To Go, CASLS’ new mobile app designed to complement LinguaFolio Onlne.

    This activity aims to develop interpersonal speaking for classes with novice-mid and novice-high learners. In completing this activity, students will engage in short conversations in a speed dating format. The goal of using this format is that students will have multiple opportunities to prove mastery of the relevant NCSSFL-ACFTL Can-Do statements to the activity. The students will do two rounds of interviews. The second time through, they will record each interview with a mobile device. At the end of the activity, they will upload their best samples to LinguaFolio Online, CASLS’s online language learning portfolio, with our mobile app, LFO to Go. These samples will serve as evidence regarding how well students achieved the relevant Can-Do statements.

    Mode(s): Interpersonal Speaking, Interpretive Listening


    • Students will develop interpersonal speaking skills.
    • Students will engage in metacognition.
    • Students will reflect on how well that they have learned given content.

    Resources: 2 student survey/reflection sheets, mobile devices


    1. To begin class, lead students in a brainstorm of basic questions to ask when meeting someone for the first time. Review expectations and conventions regarding the use of register in such a situation.
    2. Students will fill out one survey/reflection sheet with information about themselves. After filling out the information, they rank how well that they think that they will be able to achieve the Can-Do statements listed at the bottom of the page. This page also give a brief explanation of the activity at hand.
    3. Set the classroom up so that two rows of students are facing each other. Explain that the students will engage in speed dating with 7-10 different members of the class.  Each conversation will last for 1-1.5 minutes. At the end of the time, students will all move one spot to the right to change partners.
    4. After the students complete the first round of interviews, give global feedback to the class regarding trends that you heard. Each student should also fill out the remaining self-evaluation questions.
    5. Next, students will fill out a second survey sheet with information about an alternate personality that they have invented for the second round of speed dating. They will engage in the same self-reflection as they did for the first round.
    6. During the second round of speed dating, students should record each of their 7-10 conversations on their mobile devices.
    7. At the end of the interviews, have students upload their best interviews as evidence for the relevant can-do statements. Students will evaluate whether or not they ‘Can-do with help’ or ‘Can-do’ when they upload.
    8. Review student samples before the next class period to determine whether or not you agree with the students’ self-assessments. Use what you review to focus the following day’s lesson plans.

    It is recommended that you leave the brainstorming session on the board for students who are struggling. Clearly, the students who use the board would have to answer ‘can-do with help’ when engaging in self-evaluation, but it is an appropriate mechanism to scaffold output for these students. An additional support for struggling students is to let them use their information sheets to read from when answering questions. While needing the sheet means that their capacity for spontaneous oral output is lower than that of some of their peers, it is a worthwhile support given that students are using information that they created in order to communicate.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Introduces New Chinese Flagship Coordinator

CASLS is pleased to introduce Renée Marshall as the new Chinese Flagship Program Coordinator. Renée previously worked for CASLS as a curriculum consultant and coordinator for the Oregon International Internship Program.

“I’m looking forward to recruiting and supporting Flagship students this year, and I am excited to become a part of such an outstanding language and culture program,” Renée says of her role with the Flagship Program. “I have always believed in the importance of educating and encouraging a new generation of globally minded citizens.”

The Chinese Flagship Coordinator plays a large role in creating a welcoming environment where students can thrive. As the coordinator, Renée will lead student recruitment and student support initiatives. She will support students’ learning, prepare students for their yearlong study abroad program, and develop and implement recruitment strategies.

Renée earned her B.A., California teaching credential, and M.Ed. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her M.A. in romance languages from the University of Oregon. Renée has experience teaching French, Spanish, and ESL. She enjoys working at CASLS and living in Eugene, Oregon. In her free time, she likes walking, hiking, learning languages, and traveling.

Renée will serve as the Chinese Flagship Coordinator for one year. Thereafter, the University of Oregon will conduct a full search for a coordinator who will serve the program throughout the next grant funding cycle.

The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program provides students with an opportunity to develop professional-level proficiency in Chinese while studying any academic major of their choice. The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program is an initiative funded by the National Security Education Program through the Institute of International Education.

Language Corner

Essential Questions and Language Learning

Source: FLTEACH Back to Quick Links

Your InterCom editor has had plenty of interesting conversations about essential questions as they are used in the Understanding by design approach. Pre-service teachers, practicing teachers, and teacher trainers all struggle with and celebrate the process of matching essential understandings with a skill-based content area. Recently an FLTEACH listserv user asked for advice in developing topical essential questions, and the responses have been informative and thought-provoking.

You can follow the discussion by starting with this query:

Then click on “Next” or “Previous” to see responses.

Integrating Study Abroad Into School Curriculum and Culture

Source: Education Week Back to Quick Links


Integrating Study Abroad Into School Curriculum and Culture
by Matt Redman
July 22, 2015

Not all students study abroad, but every student should have the chance to learn the global competency skills that come with international experience. To make this possible, schools need to incorporate the lessons learned by those students who do study abroad into the curriculum, to share.

Students today learn in ways that are completely different from generations past. At the core of their learning are shared experiences—both their own and others'. Digital photography and video technology make it easy to incorporate firsthand accounts into curriculum. Teachers can incorporate photos of art, food, dancing, and more from other cultures into existing curricula. Or they can have students who study abroad share memories from their experience with the class.

Read the full article at

Back to School Resources

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

Here are two bloggers’ collections of their back-to-school resources. First, Maris Hawkins: Second, Allison Wienhold:

Sources of Captioned Videos

Source: Captions for Literacy Back to Quick Links

Captioned videos may improve literacy and make videos more accessible to English language learners. Here is an annotated list of sources of captioned videos:

Activity Idea: Drawful

Source: Teaching Games Back to Quick Links


Here is a simple game that encourages students’ written production and works on their interpersonal skills. Each student illustrates a sentence. Then, other students describe the illustrations. Finally, students try to guess which was the original sentence. See a full description of the activity in this blog post:

Developing Writing Skills Through Personal Journals: Part 2

Source: TESOL Back to Quick Links


Last week we posted about Part 1 of Elena Shvidko’s article about Developing Writing Skills Through Personal Journals. Read on for Part 2, posted this week, in which she continues to describe strategies for keeping a personal journal:

10 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

Source: ELT Experiences Back to Quick Links


QR codes are codes that people can scan with their mobile devices. Learn how to make then and how you can use them in a language classroom in this blog post:

Using Photos in Language Classrooms

Source: A Journey in TEFL Back to Quick Links


Here are two blog posts with ideas for using photos in an EFL classroom (but could be applied to any language classroom):

Reading Strategy: “Possible Sentences”

Source: Teach them English Back to Quick Links


Last week we noted that English teacher and blogger Adam Simpson is writing a long series about communicative reading strategies. Here is a more recent post about “possible sentences,” a pre-reading vocabulary strategy that activates prior knowledge about content area vocabulary and concepts:

Bipartisan Language Education Bill Introduced

Source: Language Magazine Back to Quick Links


Reps. David Price (D-NC), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Don Young (R-AK) have introduced the World Language Advancement Act (H.R. 3096), which would help state and local school districts implement innovative K-12 language programs.

…The World Language Advancement Act would fill the gap created by the demise of the Foreign Language Assistance Program in 2012 and foster the language learning pipeline by providing competitive grants to states and local school districts to support the establishment, improvement, or expansion of innovative programs in language learning in grades K-12.

Read the full article at

Professional Development

Call for Articles: Time in Language Learning and Teaching

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


Call for articles
Special Issue on 'Time in language learning and teaching' in the journal Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching
Call Deadline: 30-Oct-2015

Time has always been a part of second language acquisition and language learning and teaching research. Acquisition and learning and teaching are essentially about change, and change is about being in different states at different times. In this special issue, the editors take a critical stance on the nature of 'time' as a construct and reflect on how our perspectives on time inform our understandings of research and language learning and teaching processes. The editors are open to any suggestions for articles that engage fundamentally with the concept of time in language learning and teaching. Some of the particular areas we hope to reflect on in the special issue include:

- Chronological or linear versus experiential or nonlinear time
- Prediction and experimentation versus retrodiction and explanation
- Individual, cultural, and subjective notions of time
- Remembered past time, ongoing experienced time, future anticipated time
- Longitudinal research (on multiple timescales)
- Individual and cultural orientations to time
- Language learning and teaching as historically situated in time
- Linguistic notions of time

View the full call for papers at

National Association for Multicultural Education 25th Annual International Conference

Source: NAME Back to Quick Links


NAME’s 25th Annual International Conference
Past Achievements, Present Successes, Future Aspirations: 25 Years of NAME
Conference Dates: October 1-4, 2015
(pre-conference events on Sept. 30)
Conference Location: Sheraton New Orleans

Visit the conference website at

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