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: Facilitative Approach to Developing an Immersion Program

By Julie Sykes, CASLS Director

For two decades, Portland Public Schools (PPS) (Portland, Oregon) has offered a Mandarin Dual Language Immersion Program with preschool and kindergarten entry points. In the last decade, PPS has partnered with the University of Oregon to build a well-articulated K–16 Mandarin immersion and world language program.

Our ethnographic study, funded by The Language Flagship, examines the historical development of the PPS program, sets forth key components of the PPS model that other districts may replicate, and examines catalysts and disruptors to the language immersion model.

Research identified twelve essential elements for an immersion program.

  1. Foster community support through clear, consistent communication with parents
  2. Facilitate communication among parents and teachers, specifically addressing differences in language, culture, and socioeconomic status
  3. Garner district support for staffing, curriculum, enrollment, student management, and financial investments
  4. Create unity between the immersion and neighborhood programs housed within the same school
  5. Develop institutional partnerships to create places for students to continue their learning as they progress from elementary to middle to high school and beyond
  6. Maintain high elementary enrollments that can sustain attrition and retain viable student numbers for middle and high school programs
  7. Maintain middle school and high school student interest and motivation in language study through innovation and opportunity
  8. Employ backwards design to first identify program goals and then establish practices to accomplish those goals
  9. Hire committed administrative staff whose tasks pertain solely to the immersion program
  10. Provide qualified teachers with ongoing professional development through professional learning communities that work toward aligning curriculum horizontally across disciplines and vertically across grade levels
  11. Track student outcomes with standardized assessments and use assessment data to drive curriculum changes
  12. Consistently acquire curriculum resources in the target language

The Executive Summary and complete study can be found at:

Activity of the Week

  • Safari Tales for Elementary Cross-Curricular Learning

    By Stephanie Knight, Kathryn Carpenter, and Ben Pearson

    The purpose of this activity is to engage intermediate learners in elementary schools in cross-curricular learning. In the activity, learners engage in language creation to summarize events that have already happened. In order to meet this objective, learners will learn, appropriate, and produce vocabulary associated with animals and their habitats.


    Learners will be able to:

    • Understand and produce vocabulary associated with animals and their habitats
    • Compose a narrative about the major events that happened in a story
    • Summarize events with an appropriate amount of supporting details
    • Format and write a news article

    Modes: Interpretive Reading, Presentational Writing

    Resources: Intermediate Activity 2 Learner Planning and Composition Sheet, wildlife article in the target language, Safari Tales app


    1. Give learners tips on how to discern unknown vocabulary. These tips include identifying cognates, looking for linguistic patterns, and using context to predict the possible meaning of unknown words. You may need to provide direct instruction regarding linguistic patterns at this time.
    2. Allow the learners to play Safari Tales for roughly twenty minutes. As they play and read the final digital storybook created by gameplay (if they don’t finish the assigned quest, they can access the associated storybook by hitting the home icon in the top left corner), they should generate their own vocabulary list using the tips provided to them in Step 1.They should document this list on their own sheets of paper.
    3. After generating these lists, learners will share what they have come up with in groups of four. These groups should clarify any uncertainties regarding the interpretation of new words.
    4. Learners will reread the story that they created and take notes regarding three to five major events on the Intermediate Activity 2 Learner Planning and Composition Sheet.
    5. Next, provide learners with a short article in the target language written by a wildlife reporter. Great examples can be found at Project the article so that the class may read it together. Mark the text to highlight the formatting requirements of a news article for learners. Make sure to also mark the events and supporting details within the article in order to help learners understand how to include appropriate amounts and types of details in their writing. To wrap up this step of the activity, discuss the register employed by the example article and any other considerations that the learners should take into account when they write their own texts.
    6. Finally, learners will write a news article on the Intermediate Activity 2 Learner Planning and Composition Sheet. This article will be inspired by the storybook that learners created during gameplay. In this news article, learners will summarize the major events that occurred in the storybook and provide appropriate types and quantities of supporting details. While learners should draw inspiration from the story, the language that they create should be their own. Allow them to add details and color as they see fit.


    Safari Tales is available in English and in Spanish.

CASLS Spotlight: Bridging Identity and Culture Project Highlighted in FLTMAG

FLTMAG ran an article by CASLS’ Language Technology Specialist Stephanie Knight and Digital Technologies Associate Ben Pearson on July 26 highlighting the exciting Bridging Project

CASLS has been collaborating with Portland Public Schools to develop a hybrid online language course, called Bridging Identity and Culture. The pilot course is now underway. The course is currently available for advanced Chinese learners with plans to expand the offerings to Spanish and Russian learners the following school year. The Bridging Project initiative came out of an attempt to reach advanced and heritage learners at the secondary level. The needs of these students have historically been underserved in traditional language courses at the secondary level and thus the language class dropout rate for this population is high. This course is hoping to reach these students, being a “bridge” to keep them involved in language learning throughout high school and beyond.

To read the full article in FLTMAG, click here. For more information on the Bridging Project see CASLS’ website and a past InterCom spotlight.

Language Corner

Giving Feedback on English Learners’ Writing

Source: TESOL Blog Back to Quick Links


Elena Shvidko writes, “When I first started teaching writing, I remember asking myself questions that Joy Reid addressed in her article ‘Responding to ESL Students’ Texts: The Myths of Appropriation’ (1994): ‘When might I interfere with their objectives or crush their creativity? In what ways might I assume control or ownership over their texts? What might I say that would deter them from becoming independent writers?’ (p. 277).”

Ms. Shvidko goes on to describe three approaches that guide feedback in a way that preserves writers’ autonomy: writing conferences, allowing students to request feedback, and balancing praise and criticism.

Read the full blog post at

New Guides Aid School Staff Members in Registering Students with Non-English Names

Source: Education Northwest Back to Quick Links

To make it easier for school staff members to correctly register and record information for students whose home language is not English, REL Northwest and the Institute of Education Sciences have released “Getting It Right: Reference Guides for Registering Students with Non-English Names.” The guides help school staff members with accurately and consistently entering students’ names in school, district and state databases. They are available for students with home languages of Cantonese, Punjabi Muslim, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

The guides are available at

Here is a related article about the importance of correctly pronouncing students’ names:

After-School Shakespeare Club for Young English Learners

Source: Edutopia Back to Quick Links


Matthew James Friday, a teacher at an international school, led his upper elementary English-language learners through a self-created reimagining of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as part of an after-school Shakespeare drama club. Read how he did it in this blog post:

Activities to Progress Student Vocabulary and Proficiency

Source: Throw Away Your Textbook! Back to Quick Links


Here is a handy chart and blog post to explain it, with a progression of activities that move students from recognizing new vocabulary to producing it themselves:

Community Scavenger Hunts

Source: TESOL Blog Back to Quick Links


Robert Sheppard has his ESOL students go on scavenger hunts, in which they take photos of a team member in front of the found item to document that they’ve found it. Here are some of his suggestions for things to search for:

  Find as many USPS blue mailboxes as possible (1 point each)
  Find a pharmacy (2 points); ask if they accept your insurance (3 bonus points!)
  Find the oldest building in the city (5 points)
  Find as many pizza restaurants with possessive nouns in the name as possible (2 points for each possessive noun)

Although intended for English learners, this activity could also be adapted to areas with a strong target language and culture influence, or in a study abroad context.

Read the full blog post here:

Professional Development

Your Feedback Wanted for Intercultural Communication Can-Do Statements

Source: ACTFL Back to Quick Links


An American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) task force has completed a tool with Can-Do Statements for Intercultural Communication. Its purpose is to support the integration of the Communication and Cultures standards in teaching and learning.

Before this tool is published, ACTFL would like your feedback. The tool is composed of an introduction followed by sample Can-Do Statements, an introduction to reflection, and sample reflection scenarios.

A questionnaire is available for you to complete by September 30, 2016. For full details go to

Tea with BVP Episode: Communicative Language Teaching: Misunderstood and Misapplied

Source: Tea with BVP Back to Quick Links


Last week’s episode of Bill VanPatten’s podcast series focuses on communicative language teaching: what it is, essential components, examples and non-examples, and how contemporary approaches such as TPRS, task-based learning, and immersion related to a communicative approach. Listen to the podcast here:

Call for Papers: Heritage Language Knowledge and Acquisition

Source: GLOW Back to Quick Links


Workshop III: Heritage Language Knowledge and Acquisition
March 14, 2017
Leiden, Netherlands

The organizers seek to bring together researchers on heritage languages to shed new light on the long standing issues that knowledge of language and acquisition raise. They invite submissions that address (but are not limited to) the following topics:

- Native vs. heritage vs. second language knowledge and acquisition
- Heritage acquisition vs. language attrition
- Heritage speaker knowledge: comprehension vs. production
- How can HL research contribute to our knowledge of the language faculty and language development?

Deadline for submission of abstracts: November 15, 2016.

View the full call for papers at

ELTon Awards for English Teaching

Source: British Council Back to Quick Links


The British Council is calling English language teaching professionals around the world to enter the ELTons 2017.

The annual awards, run by the British Council, are now in their fifteenth year and celebrate innovation and excellence in English Language Teaching (ELT) around the world.

ELT professionals can apply in five categories this year:

  Excellence in course innovation
  Innovation in learner resources
  Innovation in teacher resources
  Digital innovation
  Local innovation

Any ELT professional can apply for consideration for one of the categories including authors, teachers, trainers and publishers. Application packs can be downloaded from the ELTons web pages.
Applications will be judged by a panel of ELT experts and the winners are announced at a prestigious ELTons awards ceremony, held in London in June 2017.
The deadline for applications is 4 November 2016.

For more details go to

Call for Expressions of Interest: Analytics in Online Language Learning and Teaching

Source: CALICO-L Back to Quick Links

From the CALICO-L listserv:

The Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning is organising a special issue to investigate the role of learning analytics in online language learning and teaching. Learning Analytics is understood as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners in their context, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environment in which it occurs” (Siemens et al., 2011). In particular, articles should describe the potential of today’s new possibilities of tracking learners’ online and offline interactions, and analysing and visualising learner data. High quality and original articles are required on the following or related topics:

·    analytics in online and offline language learning environments
·    analytics inside and outside the language classroom
·    analytics and adaptive language learning
·    analytics for formative assessment, including portfolios
·    the ethics of researching analytics in language education
·    the use of instructor and learner dashboards for language learning
·    sociocultural approaches to analytics in language learning
·    analytics in game-based and immersive language learning environments
·    instructor, learner and institutional resistance to the use of analytics
·    preparing institutions (schools, colleges, higher education) for analytics

Expressions of interest are required by 15th October 2016 consisting of a detailed abstract of the proposed paper (between 300 and 500 words) stating the scope and focus of the submission. A brief 100-word biography of each author including their position, institutional affiliation and contact email address are also required. Please send expressions of interest to Michael Thomas ( and Anouk Gelan (

Schedule of submissions
Expressions of interest deadline: 15th October 2016
First draft due: 1st April 2017
Final papers due: 1st July 2017
Publication: end 2017

Thomas, M. Language learning and learning analytics - call for expressions of interest. CALICO-L listserv (CALICO-L@LISTSERV.CALICO.ORG, 9 Sep 2016).

Call for Papers: UTA Student Conference in Linguistics and TESOL

Source: University of Texas at Arlington Back to Quick Links


The University of Texas at Arlington Student Conference in Linguistics & TESOL is a student-led conference specifically designed to give graduate students a chance to present their original research. UTASCILT 2016 will be held on Friday, November 4, 2016. This is a great opportunity to join students from across America and around the world to present research on language.

Call Deadline: September 30, 2016

For full details about the conference go to

Call for Proposals: ACTFL Research Priorities

Source: ACTFL Back to Quick Links


The purpose of the ACTFL Research Priorities initiative is to support empirical research on six priority areas that are currently critical to improving language education. Proposals can initiate a new research study, support/expand a study under way, or explore an emerging research area that is connected to one or more Research Priority areas. Recipients are expected to develop a publication for a peer-reviewed journal and grant ACTFL first refusal for submission for publication to Foreign Language Annals. The research grants are funded by ACTFL. Below each priority area is a list of sample research topics; research studies need not be limited to these topics.

Preference will be given to proposals that focus on the cognitive developments of foreign language learning.

  Research Priority Area #1: Integration of Language, Culture, and Content
    Content-based instruction
    Interdisciplinary approaches
    Dual language immersion and other innovative programs
    Heritage language programs
  Research Priority Area #2: Language Teacher Development
    Model teacher preparation programs
    Mentoring/professional engagement
    Preparing foreign language teachers for urban/rural settings
  Research Priority Area #3: Classroom Discourse
    Use of L1and L2
    Interactional practices
    Dialogic inquiry
  Research Priority Area #4: High-Performing Language Programs
    Profiles of effective PK-16 teachers
    Profiles of effective PK-16 classrooms
    Research-informed practices and/or assessment
    Evidence-based decision making
  Research Priority Area #5: Language Use in the Community
    Service learning
    Study abroad
  Research Priority Area #6: Research on Practice in K-16 Settings
    Assessment of learning outcomes associated with an instructional practice
    Learning in blended and online contexts

Deadline: The deadline for proposals is October 14, 2016.

For full details go to

Registration Open for Sixth International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education

Source: CARLA Back to Quick Links


Registration is open for the Sixth International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education, which will take place October 20-22 in Minneapolis, MN.

For full conference details go to
Register at Registration fees go up on October 1.

Reminder: Digital Literacies and Technology-Enhanced Language Learning

Source: CERCLL Back to Quick Links


Registration is now open for Digital Literacies and Technology-Enhanced Language Learning: Interdisciplinary Intersections and Interactions, a hybrid (in person and online) symposium to take place September 30-October 8.

The symposium begins on September 30 at 5 pm (MST) with a plenary presentation by Shelley Staples (University of Arizona). Digital presentations will be hosted online during the week of October 3 – October 8. Asynchronous fora (discussion threads) will allow for question-and-answer for the entire week, and some of the presenters will conduct synchronous chat at designated times as well. On October 8 there will be live webcast and in-person events from 9 am to 5 pm (MST), including keynotes by Heather Lotherington of York University and Steve Thorne of Portland State University/University of Groningen, and a panel presented by Joshua Thoms (Utah State University), Jill Castek (University of Arizona), and William Crawford (Northern Arizona University).

For full details about this opportunity, go to


EBook: Creativity in English Language Teaching

Source: British Council Back to Quick Links


The ELT Council, Malta has published a free downloadable book, ‘Creativity in English Language Teaching’, edited by Daniel Xerri and Odette Vassallo. This book presents the views of a group of teachers, trainers and researchers, all of whom share the belief that creativity needs to be an intrinsic aspect of English Language Teaching.

Download a free copy from

Book: Conceptualising Integration in CLIL and Multilingual Education

Source: Multilingual Matters Back to Quick Links


Conceptualising Integration in CLIL and Multilingual Education
Edited by Tarja Nikula, Emma Dafouz, Pat Moore, and Ute Smit
Published by Multilingual Matters

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is a form of education that combines language and content learning objectives, a shared concern with other models of bilingual education. While CLIL research has often addressed learning outcomes, this volume focuses on how integration can be conceptualised and investigated. Using different theoretical and methodological approaches, ranging from socioconstructivist learning theories to systemic functional linguistics, the book explores three intersecting perspectives on integration concerning curriculum and pedagogic planning, participant perceptions and classroom practices. The ensuing multidimensionality highlights that in the inherent connectedness of content and language, various institutional, pedagogical and personal aspects of integration also need to be considered.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Language in the Digital Era. Challenges and Perspectives

Source: de Gruyter Back to Quick Links


Language in the Digital Era. Challenges and Perspectives
Edited by Daniel Dejica, Gyde Hanses, Peter Sandrini, and Iulia Para
Published by de Gruyter

This collected volume brings together the contributions of several humanities scholars who focus on the evolution of language in the digital era. The first part of the volume explores general aspects of humanities and linguistics in the digital environment. The second part focuses on language and translation and includes topics that discuss the digital translation policy, new technologies and specialised translation, online resources for terminology management, translation of online advertising, or subtitling. The last part of the book focuses on language teaching and learning and addresses the changes, challenges and perspectives of didactics in the age of technology. Each contribution is divided into several sections that present the state of the art and the methodology used, and discuss the results and perspectives of the authors. The book is recommended to scholars, professionals, students and anyone interested in the changes within the humanities in conjunction with technological innovation or in the ways language is adapting to the challenges of today’s digitized world.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Bilingualism Across the Lifespan

Source: de Gruyter Back to Quick Links


Bilingualism Across the Lifespan: Factors Moderating Language Proficiency
Edited by Elena Nicoladis and Simona Montanari
Published by de Gruyter Mouton

This book pioneers the study of bilingualism across the lifespan and in all its diverse forms. In framing the newest research within a lifespan perspective, the editors highlight the importance of considering an individual's age in researching how bilingualism affects language acquisition and cognitive development. A key theme is the variability among bilinguals, which may be due to a host of individual and sociocultural factors, including the degree to which bilingualism is valued within a particular context. Thus, this book is a call for language researchers, psychologists, and educators to pursue a better understanding of bilingualism in our increasingly global society.

Visit the publisher’s website 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 © 2016 Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS)