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: Enhacing Independent Learning with Telecollaboration

Adrienne Gonzales is the Foreign Language Technology and Pedagogy Specialist for the Center for World Languages and Cultures at the University of Denver. Her academic interests include second language acquisition, computer assisted language learning, and interlanguage pragmatic development.


Pursuing the studying of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs), deepening the study of a language and culture through incorporation across the curriculum, or simply strengthening students’ connection with a classroom-taught foreign language: these are all scenarios that call for innovation and individualization. Many institutions and teachers are turning to independent learning models as a solution to provide students with the opportunity to enrich and personalize their study of languages and cultures. Telecollaboration can help make this not only possible, but successful.


Telecollaboration has long been considered a valuable tool for education, and for over two decades, researchers and teachers have explored its benefits for language learning contexts. Studies have shown that when planned and executed properly, telecollaborative activities can increase student motivation, promote greater target language (TL) output, and provide the opportunity for international encounters. The result for language learners is greater communicative, intercultural, and pragmatic competence and increased cultural awareness (e.g., Belz, 2003; Gonzalez-Lloret, 2011; Kelm, 1996; O’Dowd, 2003; Warschauer, 1999, among many others).  Now more than ever, the ability for learners to connect with the TL and culture is critical for comprehensive second language preparation, and the evolution of online culture has created a new generation of telecollaborative exchanges that leverage Web 2.0 tools and in turn require attention to online literacies, in addition to TL competence (Guth & Helm, 2010).


Telecollaboration is an invaluable resource for independent learning models, since it can provide students with personalized access to and involvement with the TL.  How can telecollaboration facilitate and enhance independent learning?  


For Directed Independent Language Study and Self-Instructed Language Programs

Learners communicate with language partners and tutors (who may not be locally available) and collaborate with peers from other institutions to share resources and create a community of learners, particularly for LCTLs.


For Cultures and Languages Across the Curriculum Programs

Learners enrich and deepen their knowledge of the TL through study of their major concentration in the TL, connecting with other students and faculty of their content area to discuss material and conduct research.  


For Differentiation

Strict sequences and schedules dictate and can limit learning in traditional classroom settings.  Telecollaborative activities provide learners with agency (and in turn motivation) to individualize their study of the TL by emphasizing a particular skill or exploring a certain topic or regional dialect.  

In any context, successful language learning is a social endeavor, and independent learning models can be made very effective with the help of telecollaboration.  


Belz, J. A. (2003). Linguistic perspectives on the development of intercultural competence in telecollaboration. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 68-99.

González-Lloret, M. (2011). Conversation Analysis of Computer-Mediated Communication. CALICO Journal, 28(2), pp. 308-325.

Guth, S. & Helm, F. (Eds.) (2010). Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st Century.  Bern: Peter Lang.

Kelm, O. (1996). The application of computer networking in foreign language education: Focusing on principles of second language acquisition. In M. Warschauer (Ed.), Telecollaboration in foreign language learning (pp. 19-28). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

O'Dowd, R. (2003). Understanding the "other side": Intercultural learning in a Spanish-English e-mail exchange. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 118-144.

O’Dowd, R. (2013). Telecollaboration and CALL. In Thomas, M., Reinders, H., & Warschauer, M. (Eds.), Contemporary computer-assisted language learning (pp. 123-139). London/New York: Bloomsbury.

Warschauer, M. (1999). Electronic Literacies: Language, Culture, and Power in Online Education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Activity of the Week

  • An Opportunity for Differentiation: Tiered Telecollaboration Project

    by Adrienne Gonzales

    Language: Any

    Level: Variable



    • Communicate with a native speaker (synchronous and/or asynchronous)
    • Ask questions to guide a conversation pertaining to a pre-determined topic of interest
    • Produce an artifact illustrating information gained in telecollaborative interactions


    Instructor preparation

    • Instructors select a website or program to use for the telecollaborative exchange.  Tools are constantly changing and new programs come and go.  Things to keep in mind are cost, ability for different modes of communication, features, etc.  Some programs to explore include:
    • Instructors create a worksheet in the target language to help students document their telecollaborative exchange(s).  This worksheet might ask:
      • Name of conversation partner (and other biographical information)
      • Mode(s) of communication
      • Duration of communication (for synchronous) number of exchanges (for asynchronous)  
    • Instructors create guidelines rubrics for the students’ artifacts.  Some ideas include creating a travel brochure, using digital storytelling tools to create a short documentary, etc.



    1. In class: In the target language, students independently write answers to the following questions, then discuss their answers in pairs:
      1. What country or region where the target language is spoken interests you?
      2. What aspect of the target language culture would you like to learn more about (food, holidays, daily life, politics, etc.)?
      3. What type of person could provide you with more information about this topic (gender, age, occupation, etc.)?
      4. What would be the most effective way to discuss this information (email exchange, chat, video chat, etc.)?
    2. In class: Instructor will provide students with information to register/get started with the program being used for this project.
    3. At home: Students use instructor-created worksheet to document their communication and make notes about what they have learned.
    4. Students follow pre-established instructor guidelines to produce an artifact that illustrates what they’ve learned through their telecollaborative exchanges and present this artifact to the class.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Moves In

Since 2010, CASLS and the Chinese Flagship program have been working with students in the Global Scholars Hall to provide an academic residential community for learners of Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. As part of the Living the Language program, students live in language communities where they pledge to interact in the target language and meet once per week to engage in cultural activities tied to their language studies.

Robert Davis, CASLS Advisory Board Member and Julie Sykes, CASLS Director cook in the GSH Demo Kitchen for the UO Board of Trustees, December 2014

CASLS Director, Julie Sykes joined the GSH team in July 2014 as the Resident Scholar in the Global Scholars Hall. In this capacity, she lives in the hall and works with all of the academic residential programs to bridge academic and residential life. Says Sykes, "The experience is one-of-a-kind, and while challenging some days, is an amazing way to connect with students where they live and work. I have learned a lot from them." Future CASLS work in the Global Scholars Hall will extend to the design of a place-based mobile experience tied to academic residential communities dedicated to language learning.

Language Corner

Using Google Voice for Speaking Tests

Source: Jalen's Teaching Blog
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Do you do oral assessments with your students? So does teacher and blogger Jalen, and she does it with Google Voice so that she and her students don't lose a lot of class time in individual interviews with the teacher.

Read how she does it at

Curriculum Resource: Teaching the Middle East

Source: University of Chicago
Language: Arabic, Middle Eastern Back to Quick Links


"Teaching the Middle East: A Resource for Educators" was written by many of the best scholars in the field of Middle Eastern studies and created in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and three University of Chicago units, the Oriental Institute, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the eCUIP Digital Library Project.

The website has 18 learning modules containing the following components:

Scholarly essays introduce historical themes, ideas, and concepts for each topic.
Framing the Issues detail key issues and concepts in greater depth.
Examining Stereotypes consider timely and controversial issues.
Image Resource Banks offer alternative views and copyright-free images for educational use.
Learning Resources provide ready access to maps, books, web sites, films, blogs, interactives and more.
Lesson Plans developed by high school educators directly connect these materials to your curriculum.

Gain a broader understanding of the region's geography, history, and religion. [4 Modules]

Historical Perspectives
Compare aspects of Middle Eastern culture before and after the advent of Islam. [14 Modules]

Classroom Connections
For each learning module, high school educators have created two lesson plans with guiding questions for student research and classroom discussion. [36 Lesson Plans]

Access this resource at

Activities and Assessments for Family in French

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


French teacher Samantha Decker has assembled a list of resources, activity descriptions, and assessment ideas for French students learning to talk about their families in this blog post:

Summer Scholarships for High School and College French Students

Source: American Society of the French Academic Palms
Language: French Back to Quick Links


The American Society of the French Academic Palms (ASFAP) offers 2 summer scholarships annually to be used in a French-speaking country to students whose interest in the French language and Francophone cultures has been identified by their French instructors.

At the time of application, candidates must be pursuing a French major or minor and be in their sophomore or junior year in college, or must be juniors or seniors in high school and enrolled in an advanced French course. Preference may be given for the high school award to students enrolled in an Advanced Placement, an International Baccalaureate, or an honors program in French.

The deadline for applications is January 20, 2015.

For full details go to

Unit Based on Students from Ayotzinapa

Source: Bryan Kandel TPRS
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links


Spanish teacher Bryan Kandel has put together a shared file with a reading and other resources for a unit based on the kidnapping and death of students from Ayotzinapa. You can access the materials at

Christmas Activities and Resources

Source: The Comprehensible Classroom
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links


Teacher and blogger Martina Bex shares her collection of Christmas activities and resources for Spanish learners in this post:

Flirting in Spanish: 18 Easy Spanish Phrases for Dating

Source: Speaking Latino
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links


Here is a list of 18 phrases in Spanish with English translation and a few usage notes:

Article: Literacy Through Photography for English-Language Learners

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


Literacy Through Photography for English-Language Learners
by Tabitha Dell'Angelo

This post will describe some ways in which teachers can use photography to support literacy standards. Photography supports literacy in several ways:

It is an excellent way to provide differentiation for English-language learners.
It relieves pressure from reluctant students or striving readers and writers by providing the opportunity to read and analyze photographs instead of traditional print texts.
It represents a culturally responsive teaching method as it demonstrates a way to welcome all voices in the classroom to be heard and valued.

This methodology is based on the work of Wendy Ewald, who writes extensively about literacy through photography.

Read the full post at

#Langchat Summary: Strategies To Help Get the Overall Meaning of a Text

Source: Calico Spanish
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


The December 4th #langchat topic was "Strategies to help learners at any level get the overall meaning of a text." You can read a summary of the discussion here:

If you're wondering what #langchat is, it's a language teachers' moderated get-together via Twitter on Thursday evenings. You can learn more about it here:

You can also read more about #langchat as a professional development resource in this past InterCom article:

Instead of Cutting Texts into Strips, Try Sorting

Source: Tekhnologic
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


The Tekhnologic blog is written by an English teacher who likes to find ways that technology can help with teaching and learning. Do you sometimes cut texts (such as song lyrics) into strips for students to sort into the proper order? Do you find it time-consuming and logistically challenging to keep the strips together? Try sorting on a word processor instead! Learn how, and how you can apply this tech trick in several different ways, in this blog post:

14 Ways to Help Kids Learn Vocabulary in a New Language

Source: Marocmama
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Here is a list of 14 different ways to help language students learn vocabulary with short explanations for each:

Professional Development

Call for Proposals: Fifth International Conference on the Development and Assessment of Intercultural Competence

Source: CERCLL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


Intercultural Competence: Traditions and Transitions
Fifth International Conference on the Development and Assessment of Intercultural Competence
January 21-24, 2016
Tucson, Arizona

Straddling tradition and transition, this Fifth International Conference organized by the Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy (CERCLL) will take stock of the histories that this field carries with it as well as the future directions it might take. This four-day event brings together scholars and educators in order to foster a conversation about what intercultural competence might mean to scholars and educators now, and what theoretical models, best practices, and approaches are best suited to fostering this sensibility in various learners.

CERCLL invites proposals for individual papers, symposia, posters, and workshops (half-day/full-day) with preference given to topics related to the conference theme of Intercultural Competence: Traditions and Transitions.

Proposal deadline: May 25, 2015

View the full call for proposals at

TESOL 2015 International Convention and English Language Expo

Source: TESOL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The TESOL 2015 International Convention and English Language Expo will take place March 25-28, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. The theme is "Crossing Borders, Building Bridges." The early registration deadline is January 15, 2015.

For full details, go to the conference website at

National Association for Bilingual Education Annual Conference

Source: NABE
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


National Association for Bilingual Education 44th Annual Conference
Achieving Global Competence: Biliteracy for All
March 4-7, 2015
Las Vegas

For full details about the conference go to

Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Source: CSCTFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The annual Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages includes approximately 200 workshops and sessions presented by world language teachers at all levels of instruction.

The Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages serves the sixteen states of: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

The 2015 Central States Conference will take place March 12-14 in Minneapolis. Visit the conference website at to view the preliminary program and to register.

MOOC “The Landscape of English Language Teaching” Being Re-Offered

Source: Coursera
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


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

The first one, a five-week course called “The Landscape of English Language Teaching,” is being offered again starting January 5, 2015, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the University of Oregon.

This course is aimed at English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers, both those who are intending to pursue this field as a career and those already working in the field who would like to revise and refresh their methods and approaches. The materials and approaches presented should complement college courses such as Introduction to TEFL/TESOL Methods.

Learn more about the course and register at

You can learn more about the second course at

2015 Institutes on Project-Based Language Learning

Source: NFLRC
Content Area: Curriculum Design, Learning Materials & Resources, Learning Science, Methods, Specific Purpose Back to Quick Links


Our sister LRC the National Foreign Language Resource Center will be offering two professional development opportunities in 2015 dealing with project-based language learning:

Fundamentals of Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) Online Institute

Project-based learning has had a rich and productive history extending for over 100 years. Embark on a journey of discovery to better understand project-based language learning (PBLL) and explore its connections with 21st Century Skills, content-based instruction, performance assessment and your own instructional context. Experts in the field guide you through the creation of a project blueprint. Connect with colleagues who have a common interest in quality PBLL implementation.

Complete Option 1 as part of a facilitated cohort or Option 2 via self-paced study. Successfully complete all assigned tasks and earn an NFLRC digital badge, which qualifies you to apply to the NFLRC 2015 Intensive Summer Institute in Honolulu.

Option 1 (facilitated - limited enrollment)
Registration Deadline: January 23, 2015
Session dates: Jan 28 | Feb 04 | Feb 11 | Feb 18 | Feb 25

Option 2 (self-paced)
Registration Deadline: Ongoing (March 1, 2015 for Intensive Summer Institute applicants)
First Module (five in all) opens January 31st

For full details go to

Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) in Action Intensive Summer Institute
July 27-31, 2015

The NFLRC 2015 Intensive Summer Institute is not a beginner's workshop. In order to join, applicants will need to first earn a digital badge from the Fundamentals of Project-Based Language Learning Online Institute as a prerequisite. Seats are limited and applications will be competitive. Accepted participants will need to pay a $100 registration fee for the Intensive Summer Institute. Stipends to defray travel expenses will be available to selected participants traveling to Honolulu for the ISI. Preference will be given to participants currently working in community college contexts, but all practicing world language educators K-16 are invited to apply. District supervisors and world language curriculum specialists are ineligible to apply.

Badge Requirement Deadline: March 15, 2015
Application deadline: March 31, 2015

For full details go to


Qatar Professional Development Workshop: Global Literacy

Source: Concordia Language Villages Back to Quick Links


Through a generous grant from the Qatar Foundation International, Concordia Language Villages is able to offer two Qatar Professional Development Workshops for current and future teachers of Arabic at our brand new Russian Language Village facilities in Bemidji, Minn. This project brings together K-12 Arabic language teachers from across the United States in two exciting opportunities to participate in professional development programs this year. The remaining workshop, "Global Literacy," will take place April 16-19, 2015. Preference will be given to K-12 Arabic teachers from the Midwest, but all Arabic teachers are welcome to apply.

For full details, including how to apply, go to

Book: Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning in a Virtual Learning Environment

Source: Bloomsbury Publishing Back to Quick Links


Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning in a Virtual Learning Environment
by Miranda Hamilton
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

This book describes the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) by a group of advanced English language learners in Mexico, comparing what students thought and what they did in response to the technology. The theoretical aim of the book is to work towards the construction of a theory of the development of autonomy and virtual learning in an EFL context. Enhanced understanding about the relationship between autonomy and technology has the potential to inform academics, software designers, materials writers, teacher educators, and teachers and to help learners in their quest to acquire a foreign language.

Visit the publisher's website at

Book: Academic Vocabulary in Learner Writing

Source: Bloomsbury Publishing Back to Quick Links


Academic Vocabulary in Learner Writing: From Extraction to Analysis
By Magali Paquot
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

Academic vocabulary is in fashion, as witnessed by the increasing number of books published on the topic. In the first part of this book, Magali Paquot scrutinizes the concept of 'academic vocabulary' and proposes a corpus-driven procedure based on the criteria of keyness, range and evenness of distribution to select academic words that could be part of a common-core academic vocabulary syllabus.

In the second part, the author offers a thorough analysis of academic vocabulary in the International Corpus of Learner English (ICLE) and describes the factors that account for learners' difficulties in academic writing. She then focuses on the role of corpora, and more particularly, learner corpora, in EAP material design. It is the first monograph in which Granger's (1996) Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis is used to compare 10 ICLE learner sub-corpora, in order to distinguish between linguistic features that are shared by learners from a wide range of mother tongue backgrounds and unique features that may be transfer-related.

Visit the publisher's website at

Book: Second Language Sentence Processing

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Second Language Sentence Processing
By Alan Juffs and Guillermo A. Rodríguez
Published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

This addition to the Cognitive Science and Second Language Acquisition series presents a comprehensive review of the latest research findings on sentence processing in second language acquisition. The book begins with a broad overview of the core issues of second language sentence processing research and then narrows its focus by dedicating individual chapters to each of these key areas. While a number of publications have discussed research findings on knowledge of formal syntactic principles as part of theories of second language acquisition, there are fewer resources dedicated to the role of second language sentence processing in this context. This volume will act as the first full-length literature review of the field on the market.

Visit the publisher's website at

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