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.


Heritage, Indigenous, and Less-Commonly Taught Languages

Our Topic of the Week today deals with the importance of indigenous language education, and our Activity of the Week was originally created to teach Swahili, a less-commonly taught language (LCTL) in the United States. Public perception of a "normal" language class is usually a popular language such as Spanish being taught to students who have no prior experience with the language. However, we believe that a variety of language learning contexts can inform all language teaching. Much of the research cited in our Topic of the Week article supports not only indigenous language education, but also all heritage language instruction, early childhood language education, and language immersion at all levels. Our Activity of the Week can be adapted to travel to a destination within any target culture. We hope that you enjoy this week's InterCom.

Topic of the Week: Benefits of Indigenous Language Learning

Here are excerpts from a document that was recently put together in support of teaching indigenous languages and to advocate support for the two senate bills HR 4214, the Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act and HR 726, the Native American Languages Reauthorization Act of 2014. We encourage you to go to the Northwest Indian Language Institute website to access the complete fact sheet at

Cognitive benefits of second language learning: Research shows that second language instruction improves overall school performance, cognitive development, problem solving, and creativity.

  • Bilingual children have increased metalinguistic awareness, or knowledge ‘about’ languages. These metalinguistic skills are an important piece of intellectual development, reading skills development, and overall academic success (Hakuta 1986). Metalinguistic abilities are seen in greater phonemic awareness in bilingual children (for example, they can answer questions like “Do cat and car have the same sound at the beginning?”), and in bilingual children’s ability to break words into syllables more successfully than monolingual children (Lindfors 1991).
  • A study of a second language improves knowledge of the first language as well as math and logic skills, as shown by decades of studies. Children who study a second language score higher on verbal standardized tests conducted in English. (Adelman 1981, Alter 1970, Hofstadter & Smith 1961, Olsen & Brown 1992, Parker 1956, Sachs 1982.)
  • Second language learning increases mental flexibility for children. They are more creative and better at planning and solving complex problems (Paradis, Genesee & Crago 2011). Bilinguals, with two or more words for a single object, concept or idea, think more abstractly about words and language (Ianco-Worrall 1972). Bilingualism seems to strengthen the brain’s executive control system, and in doing so, protects it from some of the effects of aging (Bialystok et al. 2007).

Benefits of language and culture-rich curriculum for Native children:

Academic success:  Based on years of research, the inclusion of Native language and culture in school curriculum is an important factor in Native American children’s academic achievement, retention rates, and school attendance (Demmert 2000; Lipka &McCarty 1994; McCarty & Lee 2014; Mmari, Blum & Teufel-Shone 2010; Skinner 1999; Yazzie 1999). Gay (2013) notes a culturally responsive approach to teaching connects students’ experiences in and out of the school, supports educational equity and excellence, and empowers students by giving them the skills to effectively negotiate and impact the world around them. This type of teaching approach and the inclusion of indigenous languages is not detrimental to academic achievement; rather, it promotes academic achievement and cultural knowledge, preparing youth to be leaders of their communities (McCarty & Lee 2014).

Hawaiian and Maori immersion schools are the longest running immersion programs and have high levels of student success and retention rates.  In 22 Hawaiian public immersion schools, the 1,700 enrolled students outperform the average for children in non-immersion Hawai‘i public schools, with 100% of students graduating from high school and 80% attending college (Aha Punana Leo). The linguistic, cultural and academic success of students enrolled in schools taught through Hawaiian has led to continued growth in their enrollment rates (Wilson 2014). Only 5-15% of Maori students used to finish grade 13 (high school equivalent). Now, with immersion instruction, Maori language immersion school students’ rates are 75% (Pease-Pretty On Top 2002).

Health and well-being: Current studies indicate that Native language is integral to the sense of well-being of Native children, and in turn, to their academic performance, self-esteem, and ability to succeed in a complex world. When a school values and utilizes students' Native language in the curriculum, there is increased student self-esteem, less anxiety, and greater self-efficacy (Hakuta 2001). Inuit children in Inuktitut classes in Canada start school with positive self-esteem that increases during their first years of school (Wright, Taylor, Ruggeiro, MacArthur, & Elijassiapik, 1996). Connecting Indian youth with their language and culture increases their resiliency to addiction, prevents risky behaviors, and promotes positive health and well-being (Goodkind et al. 2011, Mmari, Blum & Teufel-Shone 2010).

What if a child has a learning disability?

            The available research shows that growing up with two languages will not harm children with learning disabilities. A child with a language difficulty or learning disability can learn a second language, and becoming bilingual is not a hardship on a child with disabilities, including language-specific disabilities. Children in bilingual or immersion settings do not show extra delay or difficulties when compared to monolingual children with similar language difficulties. However, a child with a learning disability will still have that disability when learning more than one language; a bilingual child with specific language impairment (SLI) will still be slow acquiring both languages, but no more so than if she were monolingual.

            Immersion is suitable for children having academic difficulties and/or learning disabilities (Edwards 1989). Genesee (1991) demonstrates that students whose intellectual abilities are below average have the same test results in immersion as students of comparable ability in the regular school system, and concludes that French immersion had no negative effects on L1 or mathematics for these students. Students with learning disabilities who are in an immersion program also show no negative effects (Bruck 1982).


You can access the full fact sheet with references here:

 prepared by: Joana Jansen, Northwest Indian Language Institute, University of Oregon; Lindsay Marean, Owens Valley Career Development Center; and Janne Underriner, Northwest Indian Language Institute, University of Oregon.

Activity of the Week

  • Travel Radio Show

    By Lindsay Marean

    Last summer, high school students in the Swahili College Readiness Academy had several hours of intensive Swahili language instruction in the morning, followed by more hours of meaningful practice in the afternoon. Students had already spent time researching travel destinations in East Africa and learning modes of transportation, geographical features, and flora and fauna. This activity gave students an opportunity to use language having to do with travel, to be creative, to stretch their legs, to really focus on their listening skills, and to imagine themselves in East Africa.



    • Put students in groups of 3-5.  Each group will create a "blindfold tour" simulation to lead another group through.
    • Give each group a Blindfold Safari Radio Show worksheet.
    • Each group will choose a travel destination to describe, "radio tour" style. For each narrated element, students will think of special effects that their blindfolded classmates can experience on the tour. For example, if the narration is, "You climb a mountain," students might lead their peers up a slope, ramp, or short series of stairs.  If the narration is, "You hear elephants in the distance," designated students will make elephant noises on cue.
    • Students use the Blindfold Safari Radio Show worksheet to plan out all of the elements of the tour, including who will narrate each element, what the "special effects" will be, and who will implement them.
    • Once the tour is planned, each group will make a list of 6-8 key words/phrases to pre-teach their classmates.
    • Each performance requires three groups:  One to read their narration/implement "special effects," one group of blindfolded tourists, and a third group who will serve as personal guides for the safety of each blindfolded classmate.  The performing group should meet briefly with the safety group to outline any special concerns (for example, climbing up a few stairs).
    • Show time! Each group will have a turn preteaching their targeted words and phrases and then taking another group on their planned tour, while the rest of the class watches.

    Management Considerations:

    We chose a small courtyard area on campus that has a water feature and nice landscaping for our simulation area. Obviously, an excursion outside of the classroom, sound effects, blindfolds, and a complex set of roles for different groups create lots of potential for disruption. Here are some special management considerations:

    • Discuss safety and comfort concerns with the whole class at the beginning of the activity. As a whole class, give examples of appropriate "special effects" and experiences that are inappropriate because they are unsafe or could cause discomfort (for example, walking near a water feature is nice, but splashing water on your classmates is inappropriate).
    • Stress the importance of the "safety group." Each blindfolded student will be paired with a guide.
    • Naturally, no one should ever have to wear a blindfold if they don't want to. Be sure that all students know that they can opt out of wearing a blindfold if they would prefer not to wear one.
    • One student at a time will be narrating, most likely in a setting where there's already some background noise. Stress with the whole class the importance of having no side talk during performances, and projecting your voice if you're the narrator.

CASLS Spotlight: Using Technology to Bring Swahili Language and Culture Alive by Mandy Gettler, CASLS Associate Director

The Swahili College Readiness Academy prepares high school students for college success through an intensive summer experience in Swahili followed by an online course in the fall. This past summer, twenty-four novice and intermediate students participated in a two-week residential program at the University of Oregon. Many chose to continue learning Swahili by enrolling in a ten-week online course. After completing both portions, students have fulfilled the requirements for one year of high school foreign language study.

The online course follows a narrative-based approach, in which students imagine they are taking a trip to East Africa. Along the way, they have lots of adventures as they experience East African culture. The course allows students to learn new language skills while interacting with native speakers and their fellow students in an online environment.

The course is delivered using the University of Oregon's College of Education learning management system called ObaWorld. ObaWorld allows students to complete work in a flexible manner in their school's computer lab or at home. Videos, textbooks, online articles, links, and podcasts are included in the course.

Swahili College Readiness Academy is funded by the STARTALK Program coordinated by the National Foreign Language Center.

Language Corner

National German Exam for High School Students

Source: AATG
Language: German Back to Quick Links


The National German Exam is administered each year to nearly 22,000 high school students in the second, third and fourth level of German. The Exam, now in its 55th year, provides individual diagnostic feedback, rewards students through an extensive prize program, and creates a sense of accomplishment. Exam results provide a means of comparing students in all regions of the country, as well as programmatic data provided to help inform curricular decisions. Exam results are among the criteria used in selecting the recipients of chapter awards and the national AATG/PAD Study Trip Awards, a four-week study trip program in Germany.

The 2015 Exam period will be December 1, 2014 to February 2, 2015.

Registration is open now. Learn more at

Center for Language Education and Research

Source: CLEAR
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


The Center for Language Education and Research’s directors and staff are delighted to announce that CLEAR has been granted Title VI Language Resource Center (LRC) funding from the US Department of Education for a sixth funding cycle, which will run through September 2018. CLEAR is one of fifteen LRCs nationwide.

Focusing on strategic national language needs, CLEAR’s main activities in this proposal include:1) Materials Development, 2) Professional Development & Outreach, 3) Research, and 4) Collaboration. In addition, a large number of the projects will utilize the innovative technologies for which CLEAR has earned a national reputation. Learn more about CLEAR's upcoming projects at

Read the latest issue of CLEAR’s newsletter here:
CLEAR launched a redesigned version of their website on October 1. Explore the resources available to you and learn more about CLEAR at

Learn more about all of the LRC’s at

Perapera Language Tools for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean

Source: Perapera
Language: Chinese, East Asian, Japanese Back to Quick Links


The Perapera website started out as a location for a pop-up dictionary and study tool for Japanese and Chinese. More tools are being added, and Korean has also been added as a target language. Explore the available resources at

Living Language Contest in German

Source: Just Add German
Language: German Back to Quick Links


Have you heard of a “Schifffahrtskapitänsmütze” before? Probably not. It is a compound word, which German is especially suited for, meaning “marine captains’ hat”. Compounds create new, more descriptive words by combining two or more existing ones.

Now it is up to you to become part of the living German language and expand its vocabulary by inventing a new German compound word! Submit it via this form by November 30, 2014, and you could be the winner of one of these amazing prizes:

• 1st Place: 1 iPad Air
• 2nd–4th Places: 1 iPod shuffle (each)
• 5th–15th Places: 1 Amazon gift card ($25 each)

Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, length, and your description of your work.

Deadline is November 30th, 2014. The contest is open to all U.S. residents.

For full details go to

Day of the Dead Resources

Source: Various
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links

Here are some more resources for All Souls’ Day, All Saints’ Day, and Halloween in the Spanish-speaking world:

A collection of links to resources from Connect with Languages:

More links to resources from

Some ideas from the Island Teaching Adventures blog:

Ten Halloween jokes in Spanish from Spanish Playground:

Some “creepy” cultural resources from Zambombazo:

Lots and lots of project ideas and patterns from Crafty Chica:

Crossword Puzzle Creator Includes Information Gap Option

Source: Armored Penguin
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

There are many crossword puzzle generators on the Internet, but here’s one that creates two partially solved puzzles that pairs of students can solve by working together. The feature was added thanks to a special request by a language teacher.

Today Is the National Day on Writing

Source: NCTE
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Today is the National Council of Teachers of English’s National Day on Writing. Why not take some time today to have your students reflect on and write about why learning languages matter to them?

Find writing resources for today at

School Successes Inspire N.C. Push for Dual Language

Source: Education Week
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


School Successes Inspire N.C. Push for Dual Language
by Lesli Maxwell
October 14, 2014

At Collinswood Language Academy, a K-8 dual-language school in a working-class neighborhood in this Southern city, students produced some of the highest math achievement scores in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district.

And that's the case even though they learn all their math in Spanish, and take North Carolina's annual end-of-grade math exams in English.

… Raising achievement across the board—while producing a new generation of bilingual, biliterate students—is at the heart of North Carolina's statewide initiative to replicate the success of Collinswood and dozens of other dual-language immersion programs that have taken root during the last several years. Drawing in part on the language and cultural assets of a large and still-growing Spanish-speaking immigrant population, North Carolina is on the leading edge of a trend of steady growth in dual-language immersion programs in public schools across the nation that has been driven both by strong parental demand and growing recognition among educators of its promise for increasing achievement for English-learners.

Read the full article at

Report: French Dual Language Programs in the U.S.

Source: French Embassy in the United States
Language: French Back to Quick Links


The Cultural Services of the French Embassy to the United States has released a report: 2015 Trends and Supports on French Immersion and Bilingual Education.

“French dual language programs in the United States take on many shapes and forms to answer the needs of the community. The two dominant trends in program creation are state-led initiatives and grassroots initiatives.

“The amazing benefits of a dual language education speak for themselves, and the growing body of research on bilingualism confirms the lasting impact that these immersion programs will have for generations to come. Dual language programs prepare students for a successful intellectual, multicultural and global future.”

Learn more about the report at and read it at

Introduction to Using Literature in the English Language Classroom

Source: British Council
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


The purpose of this article is to provide some guidance through the wealth of available materials and support, to provide a platform for sharing ideas and experiences and to explore some areas that are at the cutting edge of what is, for many teachers, the most powerful instrument in their school bag: literature as a tool for language learning.

Read on and find additional resources at

Professional Development

Call for Papers: 14th Annual Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Roundtable

Source: LINGUIST List
Content Area: Assessment, Culture, Curriculum Design, Learning Science, Methods, Policy/Issues/Advocacy Back to Quick Links


The Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Student Association cordially invites student and faculty participation at the 14th Annual SLAT Roundtable at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, to take place March 6-7, 2015.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Bryan Smith, Arizona State University
Plenary address: Dr. Suzanne Panferov, University of Arizona

Submissions representing the diverse areas of the SLAT Program (e.g. language pedagogy, language assessment, program administration, language planning and policy, literacies, language use, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, language processes, cognitive sciences, psycholinguistics, language analysis, discourse analysis, multilingualism, heritage languages, gaming, language learning and technology) as well as those that bridge these areas are welcome.

Submission deadline: November 22, 2014

View the full call for submissions at

44th Annual Conference of the New York State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


44th Annual NYS TESOL Conference
Empowering ELLs: Equity, Engagement, Enrichment
Albany Hilton
Albany, NY
November 14-15, 2014

Learn more about the conference at and pre-register at


New Issue: Papers in Language Testing and Assessment

Source: Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand Back to Quick Links

Volume 3.1 of Papers in Language Testing and Assessment: An international journal of the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand is available online in open access format at

In this issue:

· Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Interpretation of multiple score reports for ESL placement
Kateryna Kokhan & Chih-Kai (Cary) Lin
· The effect of assessment of peer feedback on the quantity and quality of feedback given
Rachael Ruegg
· Concepts underpinning innovations to second language proficiency scales inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners: a dynamic process in progress
Catherine Hudson & Denise Angelo

· The Cambridge guide to second language assessment. C. Coombe, P. Davidson, B. O’Sullivan & S. Stoynoff.
Reviewed by Naoki Ikeda

October 2014 Issue of Reading in a Foreign Language

Source: NFLRC Back to Quick Links


The October 2014 issue of Reading in a Foreign Language is available online at

In this issue:

How much input do you need to learn the most frequent 9,000 words?
Paul Nation

Reading rate gains during a one-semester extensive reading course
Jeffrey Huffman

Toward independent L2 readers: Effects of text adjuncts, subject knowledge, L1 reading, and L2 proficiency
Cindy Brantmeier, JoAnn Hammadou Sullivan, & Michael Strube

Strategic Processing and Predictive Inference Generation in L2 Reading
Shingo Nahatame


Reading Assessment: Linking Language, Literacy, and Cognition Melissa Lee Farrall
reviewed by Kamal Heidari Soureshjani

Phonological Awareness and Reading Acquisition: An Educational Proposal for Introducing English in Italian Preschools
Verusca Costenaro
reviewed by Haomin Zhang

Reading on L2 reading: Publications in other venues 2013–2014

Book: The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction
By Munther Younes
Published by Routledge

Leading teacher of Arabic, Munther Younes, explores the realities of teaching Arabic as a foreign language (AFL) and outlines his groundbreaking approach to instruction, tried and tested over many years at Cornell University.

The Integrated Approach to Arabic Instruction introduces teachers to the features of an integrated Arabic program—one that simultaneously teaches the two varieties of the language, Modern Standard Written Arabic, fu??a, and the dialect, ammiyya,in a way that reflects the authentic practice of native Arabic speakers. This pedagogy, Younes argues, is the most logical, effective and economical method of instruction as it prepares students fully for the realities of the Arabic diglossic situation.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Critical Perspectives on Language Education

Source: Springer Back to Quick Links


Critical Perspectives on Language Education
Edited by Katie Dunworth and Grace Zhang
Published by Springer

The studies in this volume investigate how multilingual education involves a critical engagement with questions of identity and culture, and a movement towards new ways of being and belonging. It addresses previously under-explored issues, in particular the integration of theories like ‘thirdness’, and practices of language education and maintenance with relevance to the Asia-Pacific region. The analyses reveal the delicate balance of interests of all stakeholders and offer detailed insights into the reality of multilingual education, with specific examples of Chinese, English, Japanese and Tamil. In a globalized world, effective language education has become increasingly important, and the studies presented here have the potential to inform and advance evidence-based multilingual education through adding important dimensions of theoretical exploration and fresh empirical resources.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Researching Identity and Interculturality

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Researching Identity and Interculturality
Edited by Fred Dervin and Karen Risager
Published by Routledge

This volume focuses on advances in research methodology in an interdisciplinary field framed by discourses of identity and interculturality. It includes a range of qualitative studies: studies of interaction, narrative studies, conversation analysis, ethnographic studies, postcolonial studies and critical discourse studies, and emphasizes the role of discourse and power in all studies of identity and interculturality. The volume particularly focuses on critical reflexivity in every stage of research, including reflections on theoretical concepts (such as ‘identity’ and ‘interculturality’) and their relationship with methodology and analytical practice, reflections on researcher identity and subjectivity, reflections on local and global contexts of research, and reflections on language choice and linguacultural aspects of data generation, analysis and communication.

Visit the publisher’s website at

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