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: Role of Instruction in Development of Second Language Sound Systems

By Misaki Kato, CASLS Fellow

A language's sound system is an essential part of its grammar. In order to be proficient in a language, a speaker needs to know what kinds of sounds are used in the language and how they are combined with one another to form a word, phrase, or sentence. A growing number of researchers acknowledge that learners’ pronunciation is often responsible for communication breakdown, and advocate for the need to integrate pronunciation instruction in second language classrooms (Isaacs, 2009).

However, the struggle often is that there is little direction in terms of what to teach and how to teach to improve learners’ pronunciation. Regarding what to teach, should teachers work towards reducing learners’ foreign accent or increasing intelligibility? These two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but more intelligible speech is not always less accented speech either (Munro & Derwing, 1999). Also, should segmental aspects (i.e., pronunciation of particular sounds, such as /l/ and /r/) be more emphasized than suprasegmental aspects, such as intonation or stress patterns? While there is no clear consensus, what we do know is that these two aspects are both important. For example, learners’ mispronunciation of consonants of high functional load impacts listeners’ perception of comprehensibility and accentedness (Munro & Derwing, 2006). Non-native speakers’ prosodic errors also affect listeners’ comprehension of the speech (Hahn, 2004). While more research is needed to determine what aspects of learners’ speech affect listeners’ perception, there is evidence that segmental and suprasegmental aspects can be trained to improve comprehensibility, accentedness, and fluency of their speech (Derwing, Munro, & Wiebe, 1998). These studies support that various aspects of learners’ pronunciation, not just morphological and syntactic errors, affect how their speech is perceived, and explicit instruction cam promote understanding of non-native speech.

The next question is how should we teach pronunciation? It can be difficult to incorporate form-focused instruction, such as pronunciation practice, in a communicative language classroom where meaning-based activities are emphasized. However, form-focused instruction does have its place in a communicative language classroom. DeKeyser (1998) suggests that an exclusive focus on meaning is not adequate for the acquisition of second language (L2) phonological forms. In fact, teachers can incorporate various types of form-focused training, such as explicit explanation (Derwing et al., 1998) and recasts (Lyster, 1998), to encourage learners to notice a particular linguistic feature in their input or output, promoting learners’ awareness to understand and deliver their messages clearly. Another effective form-focused practice is repetition. Gatbonton and Segalowitz (2005) suggest that repetition strengthens the connection between an utterance and its function, and promotes accurate and fluent productions. Furthermore, repetition practice can be implemented communicatively, encouraging learners to make connections between pronunciation and meaning (see examples in Trofimovich & Gatbonton, 2006; Isaacs, 2009).

These studies suggest that explicit instructions draw learners’ attention to certain features of phonological forms that can be neglected in exclusively meaning-focused activities. The accompanying Activity of the Week will introduce an activity to promote learners’ awareness of their own pronunciation.


DeKeyser, R.M. (1998). Beyond focus on form: Cognitive perspectives on learning and practical second language grammar. In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition (pp. 42-63). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Derwing, T.M., Munro, M.J., & Wiebe, G. (1998). Evidence in favor of a broad framework for pronunciation instruction. Language Learning, 48, 393-410.

Gatbonton, E., & Segalowitz, N. (2005). Rethinking communicative language teaching: A focus on access to fluency. Canadian Modern Language Review, 61, 325-353.

Hahn, L.D., 2004. Primary stress and intelligibility: research to motivate the teaching of suprasegmentals. TESOL Quarterly, 38, 201–223.

Isaacs, T. (2009). Integrating form and meaning in L2 pronunciation instruction. TESL Canada Journal, 27(1), 1-12.

Lyster, R. (1998). Negotiation of form, recasts, and explicit correction in relation to error types and learner     repair in immersion classrooms. Language Learning, 48, 183-218.

Munro, M.J., & Derwing, T.M. (1999). Foreign accent, comprehensibility, and intelligibility in the speech of second language learners. Language Learning, 49 (Supp. 1), 285-310.

Munro, M. J., & Derwing, T. M. (2006). The functional load principle in ESL pronunciation instruction: An exploratory study. System, 34(4), 520-531.

Trofimovich, P., & Gatbonton, E. (2006). Repetition and focus on form in processing L2 Spanish words: Implications for pronunciation instruction. Modern Language Journal, 519-535.

Activity of the Week

  • Jazz Chants for Awareness of English Stress and Rhythm

    Carolyn Graham started publishing jazz chants in the last 1970's; they gained popularity among English language teachers through the 1980's and 1990's. Jazz chants may be especially useful for helping learners to become more aware of stress and rhythm in English sentences and exclamations.

    You can learn to make your own jazz chants, centered around a vocabulary theme, with one of these two videos: (taught by Carolyn Graham herself) or Here is an article with the same steps written out: Find a large, annotated collection of jazz chant resources at

    Jazz chants offer natural English, not altered to fit the music, with lots of repetition. This activity has endured in English classrooms for thirty years and is a possible starting point for building awareness of sound systems.

CASLS Spotlight: STARTALK 2018: Sharing Stories of the Past, Present, and Future

The Fall 2018 STARTALK Conference this past weekend highlighted past successes and laid the groundwork for an engaging and thriving future. Conference sessions focused on innovative and successful strategies, activities that contribute to learner success, and celebrating the STARTALK summer programs for their achievements.

The Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) at the University of Oregon supports STARTALK through its creation and ongoing support of Pulsar, an online language proficiency portfolio powered by LinguaFolio Online. Pulsar involves mechanisms to encourage learners to engage in deep levels of reflection regarding their growth toward the learning targets (matched to the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements) embedded within each STARTALK program. CASLS representatives were at the conference to present about approaches to utilizing student evidence to engage in ongoing programmatic iteration. CASLS would like to extend a special thank you to our co-presenter, Thomas Sauer.

STARTALK works to increase the teaching and learning of critical need world languages in the United States. For more information about STARTALK, please click here. For more information about Pulsar, please click here.

Language Corner

When an American Says “Sure” to a Brit, Does It Mean Yes or No?

Source: PRI Back to Quick Links


In this podcast listen to Patrick Cox talk to Lynne Murphy, an American linguist, and her British husband and their daughter. They talk about the funny misunderstandings this family experienced due to the differences between American and British English. 

To listen to podcast visit:

Podcast: Intercultural Communicative Competence

Source: We Teach Languages Back to Quick Links


In episode 73 of the We Teach Languages podcast series, Dorie Conlon Perugini interviews Dr. Michael Byram, Professor Emeritus in the School of Education at Durham University and one of the most influential voices in the study of intercultural competence in language education. Dorie and Mike discuss Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) and how to achieve it in language classrooms.

Listen to this episode at
A guide for the episode is available at

Read a two-part series from InterCom about developing intercultural communicative competence in the world language classroom and beyond by Dr. Byram and Manuela Wagner: and

The TEFL Commute Podcast

Source: The TEFL Commute Podcast Back to Quick Links


TEFL commute is a podcast for language teachers. It is not about language teaching though inevitably it might crop up. TEFL commute is meant to be a light-hearted listen aimed at brightening your daily commute to class. Each episode is built around a topic that you could use in your teaching and the podcast will have page on this site that will link you to articles, questions and resources you can use with your students.

Access the podcasts at

Basing Learning Centers on Authentic Text

Source: passion4theprofession Back to Quick Links

The passion4theprofession blog is a frequent source of great ideas for using authentic resources in language class. Here is a two-part series on basing learning centers on authentic text.

Part 1, from last April, introduces steps for finding and using appropriate authentic resources, along with examples of centers that focus on speaking, reading, and writing. Read it here:

Part 2, from this last week, goes more in depth about centers themselves, focusing more on the why and the how and providing more examples of centers that are based on authentic texts. Read it her:

Series on Teaching Science to English Learners

Source: Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day... Back to Quick Links
Larry Ferlazzo has solicited guest posts about teaching science to English learners. Here are the articles in the series:
• Jacqueline Zacarias, Making ELLs Feel Welcome in Science Class:
• Or-Tal Kiriati, Teaching ELLs Science with Self-Managed Learning:
• Elizabeth Reach, What I Learned in the First Weeks of Teaching Science to ELLs:

Variations on "Find Someone Who" Activities

Source: Mis Clases Locas Back to Quick Links


Many teachers are familiar with different kinds of "find someone who" activities for the interpersonal mode: bingo, surveys, and so on. In this blog post, Allison Wienhold describes several different configurations of students for a less chaotic class during implementation of these types of activities:

Presentations from IWLA 2018

Source: Meaningful Ed Back to Quick Links


In this article, Emily Huff, a high school Spanish and Psychology teacher at Denver High School shares slides of her three presentations at Iowa World Language Association (IWLA) 2018 Annual Conference. The presentations reflect on three areas: Hashtag Learning: Using Social Media in Today’s Classroom, Google Apps Hidden Potential (using Google in the classroom), and Keeping Balance in a Dynamic Classroom. 

To read more visit:

Four Ways Teachers Can Support English Learners

Source: TESOL Back to Quick Links
Judie Haynes writes, "The school year is well under way, and teachers are beginning to get to know their students and to build relationships with them. The teachers that work with English learners (ELs) should know how crucial their classroom practices are to the success of these students. Here are four essential practices that effective teachers of ELs exhibit in their classrooms:
1. Demonstrate a positive, asset-based relationship with students.
2. Provide scaffolds to support ELs to acquire new information.
3. Make use of flexible grouping of students in the classroom.
4. Model appreciation of diversity in the classroom."
Read the full article for a more detailed discussion of these four practices:

How to Not Waste Time on Instagram When Learning a Language

Source: Lindsay Does Languages Back to Quick Links


This article talks about the idea of using social media for language learning and specifically provides you with some tips on how to use Instagram as help for learning other languages. 

To read the full article visit:

Can Teaching Teens Be a Boost for Tired Teachers?

Source: Sandy Millin Back to Quick Links


In this article you will read about teaching teens as a real boost for demotivated teachers, an unexpectedly refreshing experience that ripples through to the rest of your EFL practice. Erica Napoli Rottstock, the writer of this article has some useful tips that could make a real difference next time you head into the teen classroom!

To read the full article visit:

A Second Language for Every Student

Source: Language Magazine Back to Quick Links


In this article Lisa A. Frumkes explains why bilingualism is important in today’s global and connected world. She also argues how critical achieving bilingualism and proficiency in a second language—be it English or another world language—can be for students’ success in the future workforce. 

To read the full article visit

Professional Development

Call For Proposals: 2019 IALLT Conference

Source: University of Oregon Back to Quick Links


2019 IALLT Conference
June 19-22, 2019
University of Oregon

The International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) is a professional organization devoted to the advancement of instructional technology in the teaching and learning of languages, literatures and cultures. The theme of the conference is “Crafting Communities of Learners” which celebrates the role of language centers, instructors, and campus technologists not only in supporting the academic success of language students through informed use of technology, but also in creating bridges across cultures and constituencies. The biennial IALLT conference attracts participants from around the world and offers an international perspective on the future of technology in language learning. 

Suggested Topics include areas such as: innovative practices in K-12 language and cultural learning, new frameworks for distance education and Tele-collaboration, technologies and social networks for language learning, language learning and communities outside the classroom, evolving roles of language centers and programs, diversity inclusion and cultural identities in language programs, best practices in computer-assisted language learning, and so on. 

Deadline for submissions: Monday, December 3, 2018

For more information regarding the topics of the conference and submitting your proposals visit:


Call for Papers: Educating the Global Citizen: International Perspectives on Foreign Language Teaching in the Digital Age

Source: University of Munich Back to Quick Links


Educating the Global Citizen: International Perspectives on Foreign Language Teaching in the Digital Age
March 25th - 28th, 2019
University of Munich

The organizers welcome abstracts related to theoretical, conceptual, methodological and empirical sub-themes, regarding the concept of the Global Citizen in foreign language education in the digital age including, but not limited to:

•    Global education and transcultural learning in foreign language education,
•    Education for human rights and democratic citizenship in foreign language education (including critical citizenship education),
•    Ecopedagogy, sustainability education, critical environmental teaching,
•    Literature and films in global citizenship and sustainability education (e.g. children´s literature and young adult fiction),
•    Global digital citizenship,
•    Social media and democratic education in the foreign language classroom,
•    Virtual exchanges, telecollaboration and global projects and initiatives,
•    Citizenship learning for inclusion, sociocultural diversity and gender; global schools and cosmopolitan literacies,
•    Civic and moral education, multicultural/cross-cultural education (e.g. regarding migration and refugees),
•    Service Learning and peace education in Foreign Language Teacher Education,
•    Innovations in teacher education, educational policies and curricula with regard to globally relevant topics,
•    Classroom technology and materials: i.e. mobile apps, interactive whiteboards, educational software, textbooks with a focus on global issues,
•    Implications, perspectives, and challenges regarding the question of what it entails to educate (digital) global citizens within foreign language education – now and in the future

Deadline for submissions: November 30th, 2018

View the full call for papers at

Call for Papers: Task Based Language Teaching 2019

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


The School of Linguistics and Language Studies at Carleton University will be hosting the 8th international conference on Task Based Language Teaching (TBLT) to be held in Ottawa, Canada, from August 19 to August 21, 2019. With the "TBLT: Insight, Instruction, Outcomes" theme, the conference aims to broaden the current perspectives on TBLT by focusing on the learner, teaching, and evaluation of learning by asking "what lies ahead?" To this end, the organizers invite researchers and educators from around the world to come together to gain knowledge and increase understanding about task-based theoretical insights, instructional practices, and assessment strategies.

The conference organizers invite proposals for papers that add to our knowledge and understanding about task-based theoretical insights, instructional practices, and assessment strategies. 

Relevant themes include but are not limited to: 
- Tasks in SLA 
- Tasks in language education 
- Theoretical perspectives on TBLT 
- Sociocultural aspects of TBLT 
- Task features, complexity, design 
- TBLT methodology 
- TBLT implementation and innovations 
- Technology-mediated TBLT 
- Tasks and the role of the learner 
- The role of the teacher and TBLT-based teacher education 
- TBLT in contexts 
- Needs analysis in TBLT 
- Task-based assessment 
- Evaluating task-based instruction, materials, and programs 

Submissions are invited for individual papers, colloquia, workshops, posters, and show-and-tell sessions. 

All proposals should be submitted by December 1, 2018 at 

View the full call for papers at

Webinar: The Case for Digital Tools for Writing in the Language Classroom

Source: IALLT Back to Quick Links


Is Handwriting Dead? The Case for Digital Tools for Writing in the Language Classroom
October 25, 2018
Presenter: Ritu Jayakar

This webinar discusses changing trends in handwriting practices in the language classrooms with the advent of LMS and Google input tools. Join the discussion to see how instructors can adopt new tools to simulate the handwriting process in their beginner level classes to help to help learners gain proficiency in a foreign language.

Find out more and register at

Second Language Research Forum 2018

Source: SLRF2018 Back to Quick Links


37th Second Language Research Forum 
"On the Contribution of Cognitive Science to Second Language Research"
October 26-28
Université du Québec à Montréal

Visit the conference website at

Online Event: Virtual Q&A with Ann Abbott

Source: University of Illinois Back to Quick Links

Virtual Q&A with Professor Ann Abbott

Dr. Ann Abbott will be answering participants’ questions about community service learning, Languages for Specific Purposes, integrating social justice in basic language courses, teaching and assessing intercultural competence, etc.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

For more information and to register, please go to


Book: Learning Language through Task Repetition

Source: John Benjamins Publishing Company Back to Quick Links


Learning Language through Task Repetition
Edited by Martin Bygate 
Published by the John Benjamins Publishing Company

After more than 20 years of research, this is the first book-length treatment of second language task repetition – the repetition of encounters with a task that involve re-using the same content with the same overall purpose. The topic links task performance with the growing mastery of both the task and of relevant language, and constitutes a site with special potential to promote learning within and across language lessons, and for preparing students for assessment and of course real-world language performance. The volume assembles chapters that complement each other in interesting ways: significant background reviews, studies of patterns of change across task repetition iterations, and reports on the use and nature of task repetition in language classes in on-going programs. Contributors draw on a variety of interpretive frameworks and report from a range of language educational contexts. The volume will be of interest to language researchers, teacher educators, teachers, and students, as well as others interested in the contribution of task repetition to learning.

Visit the publisher's website at

Book: Modeling World Englishes

Source: John Benjamins Publishing Company Back to Quick Links


Modeling World Englishes: Assessing the interplay of emancipation and globalization of ESL varieties
Edited by Sandra C. Deshors
Published by John Benjamins Publishing Company

At a time when globalization and the advent of the internet have accelerated the spread and diversification of English varieties worldwide, this book provides a constructive assessment of the theoretical models that best account for the development and use of Englishes in the early 21st century. In this endeavor, the present book brings together cutting-edge contributions by leading scholars who explore the notion of linguistic globalization based on a wide range of ESLs, EFLs and ELF, synchronic and diachronic data, different methodological approaches (corpus-based, sociolinguistic, ethnographic), and a variety of data resources (social media, multiplayer online games, journalistic data, GloWbE, Corpus of Historical Singapore English, thematic blogs). Collectively, these studies serve as a springboard for future research on the globalization of Englishes and they contribute to a timely and necessary scholarly conversation on what constitutes adequate theoretical models of World Englishes in the 21st century.

Visit the publisher's website at

NYS TESOL Journal: Special Issue on Technology in the Classroom

Source: NYS TESOL Back to Quick Links
Volume 5, Issue 2 of the NYS TESOL Journal is a special issue on technology in the classroom. In this issue: 
From Editor-in-Chief: "What Teachers and Students Can Learn from Exploring Technology Use in The Classroom"
Lubie G. Alatriste
Invited Articles 
Games and Language Learning:: An International Perspective
Aaron Chia Yuan Hung, Jonathan deHaan, and To-Ken Lee
Teaching Computational Thinking to English Learners 
Sharin Jacob, Ha Nguyen, Colby Tofel-Grehl, Debra Richardson, and Mark Warschauer
Feature Article
Teaching Online News in an EFL Context: Exploring Student Perspectives on a Project-Based News English Course in a Taiwan University
Chia-Ti Heather Tseng  
Brief Report
Using Technology Tools in Writing Instruction Classroom
Cristiane Vicentini and Luciana C. de Oliveira  
Materials Review
Multilingual Excellence in Education (ICMEE): eWorkshops for Educators
Renée Petit Marshall

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