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.



Congratulations to Kerry O'toole! After reading our Spotlight article about LinguaFolio Online last week, she was the first person to email us and mention InterCom. The 37 free accounts she received will enable three full classes of her students at Sharon Center School to document their language proficiency online. We wish you and your students a productive spring of language learning.

Topic of the Week: Considering Context

by Julie Sykes, CASLS Director

Contextualization of learning experiences is essential for learners when considering what to say in a variety of situations with different types of people. However, contextualization presents a number of challenges for classroom instruction, where contexts must be created and imagined to allow for diverse learning opportunities. Researchers and practitioners alike have proposed a number of ideas for addressing the role of context. Here we present three possibilities for increased integration of contextualized language learning opportunities in the language classroom.

1 – Allow learners to select from a variety of contextual possibilities that relate to the target language function.

Through choice, instructors can increase learners' ownership of, and engagement with, the possible topics and contexts. This could include the option to take on a variety of roles and identities, at the hands of the learner, as they so choose. Choices could include varied professions, personalities, or character traits. Regardless of the options given, learner choice is key to authenticating the imagined scenarios.

2 – Use digital technologies to connect with other speakers.

Digital contexts present an authentic space where learners can decipher context and make decisions about the discourse they would like to use. Learners can either interact with other users themselves or, alternatively, analyze and simulate the context on their own.

3 – Divide context into discernable units.

Asking learners to focus on specific contextual elements can help build learners' skills and aid in their understanding of the multiple complexities involved in understanding and analyzing the relevant contextual features. This week's Activity of the Week is one example of this type of activity.

Activity of the Week

  • Volver and Friends: Context in Interpersonal Communication

    By Patricia Roldan Marcos and Loreli Mann


    • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of three situational factors, i.e. social distance, power relationship, and degree of imposition.
    • Students will be able to analyze how those elements influence request strategies used in a given situation.
    • Students will be able to analyze and compare 2 videos in English as well as another one in their own language, extracting relevant information related to the three factors above and reaching conclusions.
    • Students will be able to judge how a role play follows or doesn't follow the pragmatic rules in that context and results in a successful or unsuccessful interaction.
    • Students will be able to produce a successful and an unsuccessful role play given a specific scenario and applying a choice of request strategies.


    Resources and materials:


    Procedure & Notes: To see the procedure and notes, click [here].

CASLS Spotlight: Congratulations Stephanie Collins, UO Chinese Flagship Student!

Join us in congratulating UO sophomore and Chinese Flagship student Stephanie Collins for earning the competitive and prestigious Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS) to study Chinese for eight weeks in Beijing this summer 2015. 

The Critical Languages Scholarship Program is offered by the U.S. Department of State to dedicated individuals wishing to study and improve their language skills for languages that are deemed “critical.” Ms. Collins went through a vigorous application and interview process to earn this scholarship which will provide complete funding for her eight week course in Beijing. She is very excited to improve her Chinese skills and to visit China again. Becoming an advanced Chinese speaker is critical for her two career goals of working for the government or a disability nonprofit to help improve limited opportunities for the blind in China.

Ms. Collins studied Chinese in high school and entered the Chinese Flagship program at UO last year, completing an intensive 1st and 2nd year Chinese program in one year. Now, as a UO sophomore, she is performing at the third-year Chinese level. She is very active in the Chinese Flagship program, contributing Spotlights for InterCom and also writing for the Flagship Times, a newsletter in Chinese written by Flagship students to promote, showcase and practice Chinese language skills. One of Ms. Collins’ favorite parts of Flagship is being part of Banzhang, leadership, because she helps plan and execute Flagship events such as visiting the Shanghai tunnels in Portland.

Please join us again in congratulations for her wonderful achievement!

To learn more about the UO Chinese Flagship Program, visit

To learn more about the Critical Languages Scholarship Program, visit

Language Corner

Monarch Butterfly Resources

Source: Annenberg Learner Back to Quick Links

Monarch butterflies are beginning their annual migration north from Mexico and Texas. You and your Spanish and English students can learn about the butterflies and follow their movement with this two resources from Annenberg Learner:

Here are several videos about the migration on YouTube suggested by a Ñandutí listserv user:

Get Ready for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Source: Eurovision Song Contest Back to Quick Links


The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will take place May 19, 21, and 23 in Vienna, Austria. Running up to the event you can have students make predictions, talk about which contestant entries they like best and worst and why, hold their own contest with their own music videos they create, learn about Vienna and/or make travel plans to visit Vienna for the Contest, etc.! If you teach a language or languages from the countries participating in this year’s Song Contest, there are many possibilities. The contestants and their entry videos can be found here:


For some lesson ideas on the topic of Eurovision, check out this post from "The Language Point" and/or this post from Isabel Perez Please note that these two resources were made for past Eurovision contests, and you would need to adapt them to work for this current year’s contest.

Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines Released

Source: NCSSFL Back to Quick Links


The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE), the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL), and TESOL International Association, have officially drafted recommendations for the implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy.

The Seal of Biliteracy is an award made by a state department of education or local district to recognize a student who has attained proficiency in English and one or more other world languages by high school graduation. The recognition of attaining biliteracy becomes part of the high school transcript and diploma for these students.

To ensure consistency in the meaning of this recognition, the guidelines for implementation for state departments of education and for local school districts were developed. All students are eligible to attain the Seal of Biliteracy based on evidence of achieving the designated level of language proficiency in English plus one or more other languages during their high school years.

Read the full announcement at
Access the new guidelines at

Report: State-level English Language Learner Policies Education Commission of the States

Source: Education Commission of the States Back to Quick Links


State-level English language learner policies
by Micah Ann Wixom
March 2015

In December 2014, the Education Commission of the States convened a group of experts to reflect on available research, practice and state policy around the topic of English language learners' needs and to make recommendations in areas where potential impact at the state level is greatest. The policy recommendations they suggested during the meeting are summarized in this report, which is accompanied by a database with an overview of multiple state policies affecting English language learners across and within states.

Access the report at

Google's Street Art Project

Source: Google Back to Quick Links


Are you or your students interested in street art? Street art can be found all over the world, and the Google Art Project has a website where you and your students can view and learn about street art in your target country. Take a guided audio tour of neighborhoods that are rich in street art, view online exhibitions, or use an interactive map to find art in the country of your choice.

The Google Street Art project is available at

FLIS Day, University of Oregon

Source: University of Oregon Back to Quick Links


The University of Oregon's 37th Annual Foreign Language and International Studies Day
May 1, 2015

FLIS Day is Oregon's largest foreign language and culture event. FLIS presenters are faculty and students from more than 40 different countries, and represent UO's 15 foreign language, linguistics, and international studies programs and departments.

This event is intended for high school students. Find out more at

New to Twitter? – Tips on the Journey from Lurking to Listing to Chat…

Source: Language Sensei Back to Quick Links


As the posts states, “Learning to manage your PLN, can take some time – as you configure what works for you. I wanted to repost some tips that I gathered as I began my Twitter journey and hopefully they will be helpful to you too!” The post lists a few strategies and decisions to make as you step out into the world of Twitter and Twitter chats, such as #langchat.

Access this post


For more about how to use #langchat to grow your PLN, revisit this post from July 21, 2014, when Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, the blogger behind, the author of the Calico Spanish Homeschool Learning Series, and a founding moderator of #langchat, wrote a Topic of the Week for InterCom entitled “#Langchat as a Professional Development Resource.”

Professional Development

Request for Proposals: Oregon Association of Bilingual Education Summer Conference

Source: OABE Back to Quick Links


The Oregon Association of Bilingual Education's Summer 2015 Conference will take place June 12-13 at the North Clackamas School District. The online form for submitting proposals is open and available at

Keep up to date with news about the conference at

Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture

Source: Virginia International University Back to Quick Links


Following a successful inaugural conference in the spring of 2014, the School of Education at Virginia International University (VIU) will be hosting its second Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture (CLLC) on April 10-11, 2015.

The 2015 theme, Next-Generation Assessment, intends to reframe assessment in terms of its ability to meet the needs and achieve the goals of all stakeholders: empowering students with awareness of their strengths and areas for development; giving educators additional diagnostic information and tools to adapt their instruction; and providing administrators, testing organizations, policy makers, and community members with rigorous data on outcomes that can be used to improve educational programs. The goal is to begin a solutions-oriented dialogue on the next generation of innovations in assessment by acknowledging the interplay among a variety of factors related to language, learning, and culture.

Visit the conference website at

Language Teacher Symposium at the University of Arizona

Source: CERCLL Back to Quick Links


The Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language, and Literacy will be presenting its annual day-long symposium for K-12 language teachers on April 11.

LaTeS: Language Teacher Symposium
Planning for Learning: Effective Unit and Lesson Design

Presented by Laura Terrill

Participants will consider the principles of backward design as they analyze a thematic unit designed to be taught at the novice level and will consider the impact that performance assessment has on unit design and on daily instruction. They will collaborate to design or modify an existing unit. They will then consider effective lesson planning strategies designed to enhance student engagement and maximize student learning.

For full details go to

Teams Sought for Languages and Literacy Collaboration Center

Source: ACTFL Back to Quick Links


Over the next year and a half, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) will connect collaborative teams of world language educators and colleagues from other disciplines from across the United States in a project focused on developing learners’ literacy skills. The development of the Languages and Literacy Collaboration Center (LLCC) will give all educators access to a multitude of resources. Through webinars, mentoring, a virtual resource portal, and online discussions, educators will collaborate around strategies to reinforce and strengthen learners’ literacy skills. Teams of 5-10 educators will collaboratively develop model units and lessons for diverse learners. These model units and lessons may be discipline-specific or interdisciplinary depending on the site team membership and focus.

Learn more about this initiative and about how to form and sign up as a collaborative team at

2015 SCOLA Users Meeting

Source: SCOLA Back to Quick Links


Do you use SCOLA to provide authentic content for your students? SCOLA is holding a Users Meeting on May 21st and May 22, 2015, in Omaha, Nebraska, and McClelland, Iowa. Learn more about this opportunity at


Book: Metrolingualism: Language in the City

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Metrolingualism: Language in the City
By Alastair Pennycook and Emi Otsuji
Published by Routledge

This book is about language and the city. Pennycook and Otsuji introduce the notion of ‘metrolingualism’, showing how language and the city are deeply involved in a perpetual exchange between people, history, migration, architecture, urban landscapes and linguistic resources. Cities and languages are in constant change, as new speakers with new repertoires come into contact as a result of globalization and the increased mobility of people and languages.

Metrolingualism sheds light on the ordinariness of linguistic diversity as people go about their daily lives, getting things done, eating and drinking, buying and selling, talking and joking, drawing on whatever linguistic resources are available. Engaging with current debates about multilingualism, and developing a new way of thinking about language, the authors explore language within a number of contemporary urban situations, including cafés, restaurants, shops, streets, construction sites and other places of work, in two diverse cities, Sydney and Tokyo. This is an invaluable look at how people of different backgrounds get by linguistically.

To see a table of contents and learn more visit

Book: Working Memory in Second Language Acquisition and Processing

Source: Multilingual Matters Back to Quick Links


Working Memory in Second Language Acquisition and Processing
Edited by Zhisheng (Edward) Wen, Mailce Borges Mota, and Arthur McNeill
Published by Multilingual Matters

This volume offers a comprehensive discussion of essential theoretical and methodological issues concerning the pivotal role of working memory in second language learning and processing. The collection opens with a foreword and introductory theoretical chapters written by leading figures in the field of cognitive psychology. Following these are three research sections containing chapters providing original data and innovative insights into the dynamic and complex relationships between working memory and specific areas of second language processing, instruction, performance and development. Each section concludes with a commentary which is written by a noted SLA researcher and which charts the course for future research. This book provides a fascinating collection of perspectives on the relationship between working memory and second language learning and will appeal to those interested in the integration of cognitive psychology with SLA research.

To see a table of contents and learn more visit

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