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.


New and Improved LinguaFolio Online

A new and improved LinguaFolio Online will be greeting you in the fall. New features include easier navigation, quicker ways to capture and upload evidence, improved teacher report screens, and the ability for teachers to reset students' passwords. Now that's something to look forward to!

Topic of the Week: Developing Intercultural Communicative Competence in the World Language Classroom

Manuela Wagner is Associate Professor of Foreign Language Education and Director of the German Language and Culture Program at the University of Connecticut, USA. Michael Byram is Professor Emeritus at the University of Durham, UK and Guest Professor at the University of Luxembourg. This two-part piece will be continued in the June 20 issue of InterCom.

In foreign language education, we are uniquely situated to help our students gain the skills necessary to become, what we call, intercultural citizens (Byram, 2008).  In this two-part series, we share our experiences designing and implementing projects which integrate intercultural citizenship in a variety of contexts in and beyond the world language classroom.  In part 1, we provide a step-by-step description of our process followed by examples of collaborative projects.

Step 1: If possible, team up

Planning and implementing intercultural communicative competence (ICC) in a systematic way is time-intensive. Work in teams in order to benefit from each others’ perspectives.

Step 2: Choose the context and create objectives

Whether you decide to integrate ICC in a lesson plan, a unit, a school year or the whole program, you will need to decide what your main objectives are.  Our advice would be to start small, best by modifying a unit you are already teaching.

Step 3: Choose a theoretical framework

In order to systematically implement ICC, it is important to choose a theoretical framework and principles which best help you meet your objectives. In our projects, we used the model of intercultural communicative competence developed by Byram (1997).  As illustrated in Figure 1, students will need to develop a) linguistic competences in the target language, b) attitudes (especially curiosity and willingness to decentre), c) knowledge about the “products, practices and perspectives” (The National Standards Collaborative Board, 2015) of a cultural group, d) the ability to interpret and relate, and e) the ability to discover and interact with students or native speakers of the language in order to acquire critical cultural awareness.  Critical cultural awareness, “an ability to evaluate, critically and on the basis of explicit criteria, perspectives, practices and products in one’s own and other cultures and countries”, is an important dimension in this model and in our projects.

Figure 1: Intercultural Communicative Competence (Byram, 1997)

We will briefly describe and illustrate step 4 (co-design activities and assessments), step 5 (implement and document) and step 6 (assess and refine) in part 2.

We conducted projects from elementary school through university in which we implemented ICC and intercultural citizenship, a concept which we will also cover in part 2.  We learned that asking ourselves the right questions was paramount for the success of our projects.  Some of the questions we find useful include:

  1. How can we make sure that each of the dimensions of ICC are covered in the course of the unit?
  2. How can we facilitate target language use? (linguistic competences, skills of discovery and interactions, skills of interpreting and relating)
  3. How can we help our students gain access to multiple perspectives of the current topic? (decentring)
  4. How can we facilitate authentic interactions between students and between students and representatives of the cultural group(s)?
  5. Which questions can we include to help students develop their criticality?
  6. How do we best scaffold the activities to help students achieve?


Byram, M. (1997) Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Byram, M. (2008) From foreign language education to education for intercultural citizenship. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

The National Standards Collaborative Board. (2015). World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. 4th ed. Alexandria, VA: Author. - See more at:

Activity of the Week

  • Exploring Differences: Parable of the Polygons and Axes Discussions

    by Stephanie Knight, CASLS Language Technology Specialist

    The purpose of this activity is to expose intermediate high and advanced low learners to considerations of differences that divide human groups through critical reading and discussion. This particular activity draws connections between said groupings and issues related to race.

    Learning Objectives: Learners will be able to:

    • Read a historical article or blog to understand the context of modern-day issues
    • Discuss issues of social significance

    Modes: Interpretive Reading, Interpersonal Speaking

    Materials Needed: Parable of the Polygons (, vocabulary handout


    1. Give learners the vocabulary handout. Allow them to engage in self-reflection regarding how well they can fulfill the principal learning target for this activity, “I can read a historical article or blog to understand the context for modern-day issues.”
    2. Learners will explore the concepts of sameness and variableness through gameplay of Parable of the Polygons, a game/blog that is available in 13 languages and allows learners to visualize segregation overtime. As they play, they will use context to define key vocabulary on the vocabulary handout.
    3. Learners will pretend that they are one of the game/blog makers of Parable of the Polygons and that they need to prepare for a debate regarding systemic issues associated with racism. Using the vocabulary handout, they will craft responses to a series of claims that might be made during the debate using information from the game/blog.
    4. To close, learners will engage in a class debate regarding the issues of grouping by sameness that they explored in Parable of the Polygons. In this debate, they will discuss whether or not the statement, “There is a historical precedent for issues related to race that makes total change impossible,” is true. Instruct them to use the questions below to guide their thinking as they consider the statement. Given the complexity of this topic, it would be a good idea to let the learners to have five minutes of thinking time before the debate begins.
    1. How do we inspire change?
    2. What catalyzes change?
    3. When is a conflict over?
    4. Why do racial tensions exist?
    5. How does the past impact the present?
    6. Why are people bothered by changes to the status quo?
    7. How do small biases have the potential to impact society both positively and negatively?
    8. What do I know about the history of issues dealing with race in my hometown?


    While this activity draws a connection between Parable of the Polygon and issues related to race, Parable of the Polygon can be used to explore any other issue related to grouping by sameness.

CASLS Spotlight: The Language Flagship Community Comes Together

Each May, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) and the Institute of International Education (IIE) gathers The Language Flagship community for its annual meeting. Program directors, coordinators, and university administrators join together to discuss successes, challenges, and best practices in implementing and sustaining advanced-level language learning programs.

UO Chinese Flagship team at the annual meeting.

Julie Sykes, CASLS Director notes, "The Flagship Annual meeting is a unique opportunity to bring together people from institutions across the country, all aligned around language learning for professional purposes. This year we learned about many new initiatives including K-12 programs to build proficiency early, the Technology Innovation Center (, and a large scale culture initiative. It was exciting to be part of the team of amazing educators across the country and I am looking forward to the direction of the Language Flagship."

Through a network of twenty-seven Flagship Programs at twenty-two institutions of higher education across the U.S., The Language Flagship graduates students who will take their place among the next generation of global professionals, commanding a superior level of proficiency in one of ten languages critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.

NSEP selected the University of Oregon to be home of the Oregon Chinese Flagship Program in 2005. Portland Public Schools creates innovative K-12 Chinese immersion instruction for the Oregon Flagship Program, and students may continue their language learning studies at the University of Oregon, or any other Flagship Program across the country, while majoring in an academic field of their choice.

To learn more about The Language Flagship Program visit

Language Corner

New Brief: Using Sheltered Instruction to Support English Learners

Source: CAL Back to Quick Links


The Center for Applied Linguistics has a new brief available: Using Sheltered Instruction to Support English Learners. This brief describes when and how to use sheltered instruction to support English learners; discusses fundamental components of sheltered instruction, including content and language objectives, instructional strategies, and assessment of content learning; and concludes with a list of resources to help teachers support students through sheltered instruction as they develop their English proficiency and master grade-level academic content.

Download the brief at

Teaching Tips: Summer School for English Language Learners

Source: ¡Colorín Colorado! Back to Quick Links


Sharon Eghigian shares tips for teaching English language learners this summer:

The Best Mobile Apps for English Language Learners

Source: The Best Mobile Apps for English Language Learners Back to Quick Links


Here is an annotated list of links to apps that English language learners may find beneficial:

Video Project: Community Schools and ELLs

Source: ¡Colorín Colorado! Back to Quick Links


Colorín Colorado and the American Federation of Teachers are pleased to present this video project highlighting the ways in which community schools can help students, particularly English Language Learners (ELLs), be successful.

Visit Wolfe Street Academy in Baltimore, MD, a school with more than 76% ELLs, to see how this community school is supporting its students and families through programs and services that include dental screenings, food giveaways, after-school activities, and much, much more.

Visit the project website at

CALL 4 ALL’s Language Learning Links Clearinghouse

Source: CALL 4 All Back to Quick Links

The Computer-Assisted Language Learning for All website exists to help students, teachers and researchers to improve their language learning or teaching of English and most other major languages by the use of modern technology. The website consists of a large collection of links to online resources, arranged alphabetically by topic.

The website is available at

Personal Vocabulary Blogs

Source: PBL in the TL Back to Quick Links


Laura Sexton AKA Sra. Spanglish shares her idea for building students’ vocabulary in a self-guided way, with vocabulary blogs. Read about the different components of this process here:

Language Game: Word Dominoes

Source: tekhnologic Back to Quick Links

Here is a game that your students can play that targets specific vocabulary of your choice:

Professional Development

National TPR Storytelling Conference

Source: NTPRS Back to Quick Links


Blaine Ray and the NTPRS TEAM 2016 invite you to attend a professional development opportunity that will immerse you in the experience of TPRS – Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling.

Summer Event: The 16th Annual National TPR Storytelling® Conference July 25-29, 2016
Reno, Nevada at the Atlantis Resort

Read all about the 2016 conference at

Note the registration price increase on June 2

See the online conference program at

The National TPR Storytelling® Conference is sponsored by Blaine Ray Workshops (

ACTFL Establishes Center for Assessment, Research and Development

Source: ACTFL Back to Quick Links


The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) announces the establishment of the ACTFL Center for Assessment, Research and Development. The ACTFL Board of Directors approved the proposal for the Center during its May 13-15 annual meeting.

The mission of the Center is to support PK-12 schools and institutions of higher education in areas of assessment and articulation; to develop and maintain high-quality language proficiency assessments; to train, certify and maintain highly reliable testers and raters; to conduct research on proficiency and performance outcomes; and to collaborate with other language organizations and government agencies to support and promote research in the areas of high quality language teaching and learning, including examining implications for teacher education.

Dr. Margaret Malone will be leading the Center as Director. Dr. Malone is currently Associate Vice-President of World Languages and International Programs at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). The author of numerous publications on assessment, she brings extensive experience in language test development, data collection, survey research, and program evaluation to this position. She is also Co-Director of the Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center (AELRC) at Georgetown University, a position in which she will continue. Dr. Malone will join ACTFL on August 1.

Read the full press release at

International Society for Language Studies Conference

Source: ISLS Back to Quick Links


The International Society for Language Studies will hold a conference from June 23-25, 2016, at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. The theme of the conference will be “A Critical Examination of Language and Society.” This conference is designed as a venue for individuals from all disciplines to come together and discuss language from a critical, interdisciplinary lens.

On-site registration starts June 23. For more information about the conference go to

Call for Proposals: 4th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


The 4th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (SSHL) will be held at the University of California, Irvine February 16th - 18th, 2017. Professor Julio Torres, Assistant Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics and Director of the Spanish Language Program at UC Irvine, invites you to participate in this K-16 community-oriented meeting. Activities include research presentations from a number of fields within linguistics and pedagogy, workshops on conducting action research in the classroom, task-based language teaching, translanguaging approaches to heritage language pedagogy, and a Creative Writing Contest.

Deadline for abstracts: October 1st, 2016

View the full call for papers at

Calendar of 2016 Center for Applied Linguistics Institutes

Source: CAL Back to Quick Links


The Center for Applied Linguistics’ institutes provide research-based strategies and practical, hands-on tools, and help teachers develop classroom activities that target the academic language demands of college and career readiness standards, including the Common Core State Standards.

See an expanded calendar of CAL’s 2016 offerings at


Book: Rethinking Second Language Learning

Source: Multilingual Matters Back to Quick Links


Rethinking Second Language Learning: Using Intergenerational Community Resources Edited by Marisa Cordella and Hui Huang
Published by Multilingual Matters

This book evaluates a project where formal classroom learning of a second language was supplemented with informal, natural interactions with older native speakers of the target language, delivering a number of pedagogical and societal benefits. The authors introduce a model of intergenerational, intercultural encounters which aims to promote the use of community language resources; enrich the experiences of young learners; foster greater understanding between generations; break down cultural stereotypes; encourage appreciation of different cultures and enhance the quality of life and community engagement of older people with a bi/multilingual background. It draws on theories of language acquisition, discourse analysis and psychosocial perspectives to propose a model of language learning for students that can be used for any language or locality. It is therefore an essential resource for graduate students, researchers and language teachers as well as for education, aged and youth care policy makers, practitioners and community services workers who are interested in innovative language pedagogy.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Preparing to Study in the USA: 15 Things Every International Student Should Know

Source: IIE Back to Quick Links


Preparing to Study in the USA: 15 Things Every International Student Should Know
By Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Allan E. Goodman
Published by the Institute of International Education

The United States welcomes more international students than any other country. They come from all over the world to access the country’s rich and dynamic education system. But the depth and breadth that attracts international students is also a source of complexity and confusion. That’s why international careers expert Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and IIE president Allan Goodman have written their third co-written student guide, Preparing to Study in the USA: 15 Things Every International Student Should Know.

This new book prepares students planning to attend a U.S. college or university to succeed in and fully embrace the U.S. education system by addressing the topics most critical to international student success, identified by U.S. international student advisors, including:

•    Finding and applying to the right school
•    Understanding the importance of critical thinking and the value of liberal education
•    Taking full advantage of the broad range of available resources
•    Becoming immersed in a wide variety of campus activities beyond academics

Learn more about the book and see purchasing options at

Book: Educating Second Language Teachers

Source: Oxford University Press Back to Quick Links


Educating Second Language Teachers
By Donald Freeman
Published by Oxford University Press

Donald Freeman examines how core ideas and practices in educating second language teachers relate to and differ from teacher education in other content areas. He weaves together research in general and second language teacher education with accounts of experience and practice to examine how background knowledge is defined in language teaching.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Call for Articles: Communication Studies and Language Pedagogy

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


Communication Studies and Language Pedagogy, a peer-reviewed international journal, is soliciting original work on or related to the scientific investigation of Language, Speech, Communication, and Pedagogy. The Journal particularly features research developments, applications and innovations on education and language that improve the teaching performance, provide solutions, share empirical findings, and place points of inquiries in a historical and epistemological perspective.

Works exploring the realm of language and communication as being crucial for understanding cognition, interaction, and culture; knowledge within language; ICT, professional communication; web-based language learning; communications technology; language pedagogy; and interdisciplinary efforts towards developing contacts across languages and cultures are of particular interest.

Call Deadline: 30-Jun-2016

View the full call for articles at

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