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: InterCom: September 21, 2020

This week, we continue our exploration of L2 pragmatics by introducing politeness orientation. Simply put, politeness orientation refers to the extent to which the L2 is group oriented or individually oriented. Learn more by checking out this video.

There are a couple of ways to get connected with us this week:

  • Join our InterCom Live! session. We connect on Facebook every Monday at 11:00 am Pacific. To join us, open CASLS's Facebook page at the designatied time. Can't make it? The InterCom Live! events are always recorded, and you can find them on our Facebook page.

  • Check out the Activity of the Week. This week, we use a predictogram to explore politeness orientation.

  • An interesting consideration for educators is the rate at which learners develop pragmatic competence. Timpe-Laughlin (2016) provides a nice overview of research related to pragmatic development in adult learners.

Happy exploring! We are excited to continue engaging with you this week.

Activity of the Week

  • Politeness Orientation Predictogram

    This activity was designed to introduce learners to the concept of politeness orientation and to help them explore related L2 conventions. It involves L1/L2 comparisons and can be adapted for learners of all language proficiency levels.

    Learning Outcomes:

    At the end of this activity, learners will be able to:

    • Recognize how politeness orientation manifests in the L2.

    • Compare politeness orientation in the L1 to politeness orientation in the L2.

    Mode(s): Any

    Materials: Politeness Orientation Predictogram (example in English), Politeness Orientation Video


    1. Provide learners with the Politeness Orientation Predictogram (in the L1 or L2, depending on the proficiency level of the learners). Ask that they use their knowledge of language and context clues to decode and predict the meaning of any word(s) or phrase(s) that they do not know. (Important: Learners may not have enough spaces in some columns and may have too many spaces in others. The point of the activity is not to “game” the placement of words and phrases but rather to build robust schemata by making connections).

    2. Show learners the Politeness Orientation Video. Ask them to update their predictogram answers based on what they see.

    3. Debrief as a class. As you debrief, prompt learners to justify their answers and provide clarification as misunderstandings present themselves.

    4. Ask learners to make predictions regarding how politeness orientation manifests in a given language function (e.g., greetings, small talk, and leave takings) in the L2. Then, have them use the Internet to find three samples of the target language function to verify their predictions.

    5. In small groups, debrief what learners found. 

    6. Have learners complete an exit ticket on the way out of class in which they state: (1) something they learned; (2) something they have a question about; and (3) contrast politeness orientation in the  L2 with politeness orientation in the L1.

CASLS Spotlight: Free ACTFL Registration

In case you missed it, we're giving away ten registrations to the 2020 ACTFL Convention! To enter, complete our digital scavenger hunt by September 30.

Details on how to get started are here:

Professional Development

Professional Development Workshop at Vanderbilt University

Source: Vanderbilt University Back to Quick Links


The Center for Second Langauge Studies (CSL) at Vanderbilt University is offering professional development workshops weekly via Zoom. Topics covered include assessment, learning tools to enhance student outcomes, and more. 


Call for Proposals: 44th Annual National Convention TESOL-SPAIN

Source: Linguist List Back to Quick Links


The 44th Annual National Convention TESOL will be held in Marid, Spain from March 5 to March 7, 2021. Proposals related to instruction and learning given the realities of the present pandemic are being solicited. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2020.


Subscriber Profile

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Language: ESL/Bilingual
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State: California
Group: Intercom

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