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: Cultivating Access to Target Language Communities with Mixed Reality Complex Learning Scenarios

By Stephanie Knight, CASLS Assistant Director

              Literacy is “a vehicle for communicating meaning” that is “always embedded in specific social circumstances” (Reinhardt and Thorne, 2019, p. 210). It is critical to social engagement in target language communities, and though digital texts provide a degree of access to L2 communities that was not commonplace just a few decades ago (in terms of both quantity and the heterogeneity of interaction types), their integration in L2 classrooms and curricula is sparce. The inherent opportunity for L2 acquisition afforded by the sheer ubiquity of opportunities to develop digital literacies is palpable; not only may learners explore and consume language that would not have even been documented in years past (McColloch, 2019), but learners are also afforded the opportunity  to  produce language themselves (Warschauer & Grimes, 2007). Despite this opportunity, in the absence of explicit analysis, learners may be unable to gain requisite pragmatic awareness for meaningful and sustained interaction in L2 communities (Reinhardt and Thorne, 2019).

              Mixed Reality Complex Learning Scenarios (MRCLSs) are one approach to incorporating the intentional development of digital literacy skills in the L2 classroom. These scenarios are based on the Intercultural Pragmatic and Interactional Competence Framework (for more information, see Sykes, Malone, Forrest, and Sağdıç, in press) and articulate four learning targets in the areas of Knowledge (the capacity to form a variety of utterances), Analysis (the ability to discern and produce utterances with the desired illocutionary force), Subjectivity (the ability to describe language choices, even especially if they do not necessarily align with expected sociopragmatic conventions), and Awareness (the ability to identify the perlocutionary forces at play in an interaction). Practitioners using and developing MRCLSs necessarily draw learners’ overt attention to these four domains by facilitating their engagement in multistep tasks (e.g. decoding of texts and solving puzzles) in which demonstrating understanding of the pragmatic strategies at play is required for sustained progression through the experience. MRCLSs are well suited facilitate learners’ exploration of digital domains such as synchronous texting, social media, blogs, and wikis in concert with related analog texts (e.g., travel brochures, maps, and infographics) that are typically more represented in instructional contexts. As such, practitioners are encouraged to expand the text types that learners engage with in their classrooms. This expansion can only be to the benefit of learners; they are primed to not only demonstrate understanding of sociopragmatic content, but to consider how to apply it across innumerable contexts.


McCulloch, G. (2019). Because internet: Understanding the new rules of language. Riverhead Books: New York.

Reinhardt, J. & Thorne, S. (2019). Digital Literacies as emergent multifarious repertoires. In N. Arnold & B. Ducate (Eds.), Engaging language learners through CALL: From theory and  research to informed practice (208-239). Bristol: Equinox.

Sykes, J., Malone, M., Forrest, L., & Sağdıç, A. (in press). Comprehensive framework for assessing intercultural-pragmatic competence: Knowledge, analysis, subjectivity, and awareness. Encyclopedia of Educational Innovation.

Warschauer, M., & Grimes, D. (2007). Audience, authorship, and artifact: The emergent semiotics of Web 2.0. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics (27), 1–23.


Activity of the Week

  • An Explroation of Instagram in MRCLSs


    Students will be able to use Instagram posts to identify key features of the genre.

    Students will be able to use the information in the posts to solve language challenges and learn about key features of rhetoric.

    Mode: Interpretive, Interpersonal

    Materials Needed: A digital device to access an Instagram feed; Mixed-reality Complex Learning Scenario (MRCLS) sheet; puzzle answer key


    1. Present learners with the puzzle (on the MRCLS sheet) they are challenged to solve to discover the power of language. (Note: This is a three-step puzzle where learners are asked to use two posts to figure out two words related to discourse and then unscramble the letters in the highlighted boxes for a final answer.) The puzzle answer key is provided here as a separate sheet in case you want to solve it on your own first.
    2. After learners work with the puzzle and solve it, ask them to complete the wrap-around activities (on the MRCLS sheet) to consider the elements of language under consideration and consider ways in which the posts model and diverge from the norm typically found in Instagram posts.
    3. Optional: As an extension, provide learners with a list of famous people who use Instagram as their primary communication tool and ask learners to make a list of language features that follow the norm (e.g., the use of hashtags) and a list of features that make the post unique to the famous person’s persona (e.g., a catchphrase they use repeatedly).

    Notes: After this activity, learners can be directed towards other Instagram feeds related to their topic of interest in the target language. The feeds can be resources provided by the instructor or a scavenger hunt activity where learners are asked to come up with a list of their own sites after exploring on their own.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Closed to Public for Winter Holiday

Sign that says, "Sorry, we're closed, but still awesome." hanging on windowThe CASLS office will be closed to the public for the winter holidays during December 16 – January 3. Technical support requests for LinguaFolio Online, along with other correspondence, will be answered on January 4. For emergencies, please email and a CASLS staff member will follow up with you on the same business day.

Language Corner

Irregular Verbs and Their Participle Parts

Source: ThoughtCo. Back to Quick Links


Irregular verbs and their participles are a part of English learning that almost always comes through rote memorization. Therefore, it helps to see all the irregulars and their participles in one place. This article provides that in a list form. It would be useful for any teacher looking for review materials for their class. 

Learn more:


5 New Strategies for Digital Content

Source: eSchool News Back to Quick Links


Bringing digital content into the classroom can help teachers save time and make an engaging and relevant classroom for students. But how can this be done effectively? This article lists five practical ways to integrate and innovate on the digital content used in the classroom. 

Learn more:


Game Shows You Could Use in Language Lesson

Source: Language Teacher Toolkit Back to Quick Links


Games are a great way to get students involved and invested in their learning, and modeling in-class games after popular game shows provides a structure that can be quickly applied to your learning context. This article provides a list of game shows and how they could be connected to language learning, making it an excellent resource for teachers. 

Learn more:


American Sign Language Club Begins at Lee to Promote Unity Across Language Barriers

Source: Lee Clarion Back to Quick Links


An American Sign Language (ASL) club has recently launched at Lee University in the hopes to create understanding about the Deaf community and encourage intercultural communication. While Lee has a Deaf studies minor and ASL as a foreign language option, the popularity of the courses make it hard for some students to get in. The club provides a great opportunity for all to attend and learn. 

Read more:


Professional Development

Call: International Language Teacher Education Conference

Source: ILTERG Back to Quick Links


The International Language Teacher Education Research Group (ILTERG) has announced a call for papers for the 2nd International Language Teacher Education Conference to be held in Turkey on April 10-12, 2020. The call for papers will be open until January 31, 2020.

Learn more:

Call: Studies in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (SALT)

Source: Teachers College, Columbia University Back to Quick Links


Studies in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (SALT) is accepting article submissions for their language journal in the following areas: second language acquisition, second language assessment, pragmatics, and more. Manuscripts must be no longer than 8,000 words. 

Learn more at:


Conference: Midwest Association of Language Learning Technology

Source: MWALLT Back to Quick Links


This conference is a great opportunity for teachers that have no time or means to attend conferences far away. It is mainly relevant for all K-12 and postsecondary language educators. There will be six hosting/hub universities in different states where attendees can go and be a part of in-person and virtual presentations. States taking part in this event will be: Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Learn more:

Conference: 1st International Conference on Foreign Language Learning: Variety, Diversity, and Interdisciplinarity - June 1-2, 2020

Source: University of Portugal Back to Quick Links


The first International Conference on Foreign Language Learning: Variety, Diversity, and Interdisciplinarity will focus on communication between teachers and researchers in different fields of language education and linguistics. The conference will focus on English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. There will be an after-conference event titled “Fostering Multilingual EFL Classrooms through an English as a Lingua Franca Approach.”

Learn more:


Book: Mobile Learning Applications in Early Childhood Education

Source: Stamatios Papadakis and Michail Kalogiannakis Back to Quick Links


The new edition of this book reviews new research on the application of mobile technology on early childhood education, affording the possibility of potentially more engaging ways of relating to new information. The authors are both based at the University of Crete in Greece. The edition is now available for purchase.

Learn more:

Book: Contemporary Language Motivation Theory: 60 Years Since Gardner and Lambert (1959)

Source: Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre (eds.) Back to Quick Links


This book unites ideas from leaders in the language learning motivation field. The chapters demonstrate how Gardner’s work is still integral to the theory while advancing thinking on cutting-edge topics. Ultimately, it provides an up-to-date assessment of the motivation research conducted by Gardner and Lambert (1959).

Visit the publisher at:


Book: Rejecting the Marginalized Status of Minority Languages: Educational Projects Pushing Back Against Language Endangerment

Source: Ari Sherris and Susan D. Penfield (eds.) Back to Quick Links


This book explores indigenous, tribal, and minority (ITM) language education in oral and written communication and in new technology and online resources for pedagogical purposes. It seeks to highlight examples of ITM that challenge the flattening of languacultures into historical artifacts. 

Visit the publisher at:


Book: Second Language Literacy Practices and Language Learning Outside the Classroom

Source: Miho Inaba Back to Quick Links


This book covers a study of how Japanese language students use their language both in and outside of the classroom in mandatory and voluntary activities. It investigates how values, motivations, and activities differ between the contexts and concludes that changes could be made to teaching practices to enhance autonomous learning.

Visit the publisher at:


Expanding Voting Rights for Linguistic Minorities

Source: Joint National Committee for Languages Back to Quick Links


Participating fully in the democratic process is an important part of being an American. The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (VRAA or HR4) aims to secure the voting rights of language minorities and low-English proficient voters. Knowledge of this initiative is important for any language educator in the U.S.

Read more at:


Subscriber Profile

Larry Ferlazzo Login
Email: Back to Top
Language: ESL/Bilingual
Content Area: ANY
Level: ANY
State: California
Group: Intercom

InterCom articles do not necessarily reflect the view of CASLS, and the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations does not imply endorsement.
For subscription information or to edit your InterCom profile:
Send questions about InterCom to

InterCom made possible through support from:
U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI funding for National Language Resource Centers.
Copyright © 2019 Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS)