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: Using Peer Review Effectively

by Julie Sykes, CASLS Director

Peer review has great potential to improve student writing, when used effectively as a reflection and analysis tool. This week we present five basic tips for implementing peer review effectively in your second or heritage language classroom.

1. Avoid an isolated focus on structure.

A common pitfall of the peer review process is an explicit focus on structure and vocabulary. With learners at similar levels, this can lead to the correction of sentences that are already correct or a misuse of words. To avoid this scenario, ask learners to avoid ignore grammar or vocabulary errors they see and, instead, place their reflective attention on organization, style, and audience, all elements they are ready to critique.

2. Provide a template for learners to use when reflecting on their peer's writing.

Utilizing a template to guide the review process does two things – (1) it places emphasis on the areas that are most important to a high-quality final product and (2) moves learners away from the common tendency to focus only on grammar. The template can then be used to reflect on learners' own writing as well.

3. Give weight to the peer review process by evaluating learners on how well they review their peer's work.

Teachers often comment they have removed the peer review process because learners do not take it seriously. Grades, points, or other evaluative mechanisms can be used to place emphasis on peer review as a critical component of the writing process.

4. Have learners apply what they learned in the peer review process to their own writing.

After learners have used the template to reflect on their peer's writing, have them also apply the template to their own product. This evaluation helps learners see additional places they can improve their own writing.

5. Pair learners in an intentional way to ensure the most effective review process possible.

Grouping learners with similar skill sets as well as distributed knowledge can be an effective way of using peer review. Similar skills allow reflection at learners' own level. Distributed skills are most useful in groups of three, where the combination of skills results in a comprehensive review.

Activity of the Week

  • Peer Review Template – A Brochure

    A sample peer review template for a brochure.

    Objective: To reflect on a peer's brochure using a guided template.

    Resources: Peer Review Template


    1. Have learners reflect on one or two peer's final brochures using the template.
    2. Reflect: Ask learners return to their own writing and revise based on their peer's comments as well as self-reflection on their own writing based on the template.

CASLS Spotlight: Meet Chinese Flagship Student Edan Qian by Deborah Cooke, Instructional Designer

The University of Oregon Chinese Flagship Program provides a sequence of language learning instruction designed to help students develop Superior-level proficiency. The Flagship Program emphasizes real-world linguistic and cultural skills so that graduates are prepared to use their Chinese language and culture skills in a professional environment.

The emphasis on professional-level Chinese attracted Edan Qian to the program. He graduated in summer 2014 as a Chinese Flagship Scholar with a double major in Chinese and human physiology. Edan found the Flagship Program to be challenging, but in time, his language proficiency grew and he found learning neurobiology in Chinese was no problem.

Edan's most fulfilling time in the program was going abroad to Nanjing University for a term and then interning in a Chinese skateboarding company for a term. "This was another offer from the Chinese Flagship program I could not pass up, for it turned out to be one of the most fulfilling years of my college experience," he says.

Edan urges other students to take advantage of the experience abroad by immersing themselves with Chinese locals in the community. "Find a hobby and then locate someone in the city who you can share the same interest with so that you can both perfect language skills and develop lifelong friendships," he recommends.

Upon graduation, Edan will be traveling to Tibet and East Turkistan with three friends he met while studying abroad. After his travels, he hopes to work in Shanghai with the skateboard company that he interned with during his time abroad in the Flagship Program. Eventually, Edan would love to open a sports rehabilitiation clinic that incorporates traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine, helping athletes in the action sports industry.

The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program is funded by The Language Flagship through the National Security Education Program.

Language Corner

Big-City Districts Delve Into Common-Core Teaching for English-Learners

Source: Education Week
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


Big-City Districts Delve Into Common-Core Teaching for English-Learners
By Lesli A. Maxwell
September 11, 2014

The common-core standards are dramatically reshaping teaching and learning, but some of the biggest changes are arguably happening for English-language learners and their teachers.

That's because English-learners, no matter their level of proficiency, are expected to engage with demanding content and demonstrate more sophisticated skills with language even when their English is still developing. Those higher expectations, ELL experts say, mean every educator working with English-learners must take responsibility for developing their language.

Most advocates, educators, and researchers agree the shift to the common-core standards is a huge opportunity for ELLs—who represent the fastest growing subgroup of students in K-12—that schools can't afford to squander. …

… For those reasons and others, representatives from some of the country's biggest school systems—which together educate more than 25 percent of ELLs—came together to craft a guide meant to help teachers weave language learning at all proficiency levels with their instruction of rigorous English/language arts standards.

Read the full article at

Roundtable Discussion: Multilingualism in the U.S. – Do Americans Need More Than One Language?

Source: Goethe-Institut
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Multilingualism in the U.S. – Do Americans need more than one language?
In celebration of this year’s European Day of Languages
Roundtable discussion
5:30-7:30pm, followed by a reception with European specialties
The Graduate Center, CUNY
New York, NY
In English
Free, but registration required

What is multilingualism worth and how can the long-term reality of linguistic diversity in the U.S. be promoted taking into account a variety of regional, national and supranational interests?

Join in for an insightful roundtable discussion celebrating this year’s European Day of Languages. Different views on multilingualism will be presented and discussed from a U.S. and European perspective along their educational, economic, social and cultural fault lines.

For more information and to register go to

ADFL Releases Guidelines on Hybrid and Online Language Courses

Source: ADFL
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


The Association of Departments of Foreign Languages has release a new set of guidelines: Suggested Best Practices and Resources for the Implementation of Hybrid and Online Language Courses. Here is the introduction:

“Many language departments across the country teach hybrid and online courses. The decision to implement such courses should be one that is fully supported by the language department concerned. The addition of hybrid or online language courses does not save time or money and is not a cost-saving measure. Rather, adding hybrid or online language courses requires the use of more resources than the traditional course and requires additional funding and time on the part of all involved. The process must include input from all stakeholders (e.g., administrators, technical support, instructors, students), and administrators must make a long-term commitment to providing the resources to sustain such courses.”

Access the full guidelines at

Ideas for Presenting Family Members with Young Learners

Source: Ñandutí
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


An Improving Early Language Learning listerv user recently asked, “Can anyone give me some ideas on interesting ways to present family members?” Read other listserv users’ responses in the archive:

5 Ways the Internet Has Transformed Language Education

Source: The French Corner
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

How can you enhance your students’ language learning experience using the Internet? Get some new ideas in this blog post:

Department of Homeland Security Releases Draft Language Access Plans

Source: DHS
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


DHS Releases Component Draft Language Access Plans for Public Comment
Posted by Megan H. Mack, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
September 5, 2014

Being able to communicate efficiently and effectively is critical to the Department of Homeland Security’s diverse missions. Today, I am pleased to announce the release of draft Language Access Plans from the Department’s component agencies, which address the language needs of persons with limited English proficiency.

These Language Access Plans, developed pursuant to Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency and the DHS Language Access Plan issued in February 2012, provide a framework for the Department’s components and offices to improve our delivery of language services for diverse communities across the country.

The Department is now seeking the public’s input to ensure that we are providing meaningful access to our programs and activities for our stakeholders, including persons with limited English proficiency and the organizations that represent them.

DHS welcomes your feedback from now through October 31, 2014, by providing written comment or through participating in stakeholder engagement meetings.

Read the full article at
Access the Draft Language Access Plans at

U.S. Department of Education Releases More Information on Enrolling New Immigrant Students

Source: NCELA
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links

The U.S. Department of Education has released more information on enrolling new immigrant students. This new resource, Fact Sheet II: Additional Questions & Answers Enrolling New Immigrant Students (, reviews procedures for districts enrolling Title III immigrant students. It is a supplement to the previously released Fact Sheet: Educational Services for Immigrant Students and Those Recently Arrived to the United States (, published in August to help institutions address the needs of unaccompanied and other new immigrant youth. Read more about the context for these two fact sheets, and the fact sheets themselves, at the Department website page devoted to unaccompanied youth:

NCELA Nexus Newsletter September 12, 2014.

Professional Development

Two New MOOC’s from Stanford University’s Understanding Language Series

Source: Stanford University Graduate School of Education
Content Area: Assessment, Curriculum Design, Differentiated Instruction, Heritage, Learners with Disabilities, Learning Materials & Resources, Learning Science, Methods, Online Learning, Specific Purpose, Standards Back to Quick Links


Stanford University is excited to be launching two massive open online courses (MOOCs) on October 1, both designed to help teachers support students' language use and content learning within the context of the new standards.

Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards is a collaboration between Understanding Language, Oregon State University, and the Oregon Department of Education. This eight-week course will focus on a key practice within both the Common Core State Standards and new English Language Proficiency Standards: argumentation.

Register at

Building on the success of the Constructive Classroom Conversations MOOCs last year, they are offering two updated versions of Constructive Classroom Conversations: Mastering Language for College and Career Readiness (one for elementary and one for secondary teachers) starting on October 1.
In this four-session course (spanning 14 weeks), educators will work individually and within teams to collect samples of student conversations, analyze language samples using the Conversation Analysis Tool (CAT), and plan instruction to foster students’ conversation skills. Participants will join a growing online community to discuss, implement, and reflect on constructive student-to-student conversations as powerful ways to develop language, thinking, and understanding.

Register for the elementary CCC course at
Register for the secondary CCC course at

Small Grants for Doctoral Research in Second or Foreign Language Assessment

Source: TOEFL
Content Area: Assessment, Learning Science Back to Quick Links


The TOEFL program at ETS is now accepting applications for the TOEFL Small Grants for Doctoral Research in Second or Foreign Language Assessment. The grant’s purpose is to make available small cash awards to promising doctoral students working in the area of foreign or second language assessment that will help them finish their dissertations in a timely manner. The deadline for applications is October 15. Applications received after that time will not be considered until the next application cycle.

For full details about the grant go to

Spaan Research Grants

Source: LTEST-L
Content Area: Assessment, Learning Science Back to Quick Links

From the LTEST-L listserv:

CaMLA—also known as Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments—is now accepting applications for the 2015 Spaan Research Grant Program. Spaan Research Grants provide financial support for those wishing to carry out research projects related to second or foreign language assessment. Project reports are published as CaMLA Working Papers (

CaMLA is offering research funding for up to three projects investigating an aspect of CaMLA’s tests; each project will receive up to $3,000. Proposals are invited from graduate students, faculty, and other language assessment professionals. Visit the Spaan Research Grants section of our website ( for more information about the application process.

CaMLA Research. [LTEST-L] Spaan Research Grants. LTEST-L listserv (LTEST-L@LISTS.PSU.EDU, 5 Sep 2014).

Fourth Meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI)

Source: Columbia University
Content Area: Heritage, Learning Science, Methods, Policy/Issues/Advocacy Back to Quick Links


The fourth meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) will take place October 3 at Columbia University.

Go to to see the schedule of presentations.
To register go to

Call for Presentations and Workshops: Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium

Source: CALICO
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


CALICO Conference 2015
May 26 - 30
Hosted by the University of Colorado, Boulder
Places and Spaces: Redefining Language Learning

For instructions on submitting a presentation or workshop proposal go to

ACTFL / NFMLTA / MLJ Dissertation Support Grants

Source: ACTFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

ACTFL, the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers' Associations (NFMLTA), and the Modern Language Journal (MLJ) are pleased to announce a call for applications for the ACTFL / NFMLTA / MLJ Dissertation Support Grants. The purpose of this collaboration between ACTFL, NFMLTA, and the MLJ is to help support two graduate students during the research and writing phase of their dissertations that focus on the field of language teaching and learning.

Complete applications must be filled out electronically by SEPTEMBER 30, 2014. Awardees will receive a check in the amount of $2,500. An announcement of the recipients will occur at the time of the ACTFL 2014 Convention as well as via electronic and print media. A committee of recognized researchers will then review proposals and select the awardees.

For more information or to apply, go to

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