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: Examining Articulation in a University Program using Program-wide Assessment

By Linda Forrest, CASLS Research Director

Second language study represents a large investment of institutional resources, student time, and tuition dollars, yet large-scale, program-wide standardized assessment is almost non-existent in post-secondary institutions. With no clear evidence of program effectiveness or student outcomes, and in the face of dwindling campus resources, both administrators and students question with increasing frequency the validity of the enterprise.

One critical component to achieving successful student learning outcomes is adequate articulation between course levels. First year outcomes should provide sufficient preparation for second year course work, and so on. Program-wide assessment provides the means to determine whether this is the case.

Recently, CASLS worked with the Romance Languages Department at the University of Oregon to administer the Computerized Assessment of Proficiency (CAP) to all students enrolled in first- or second-year Spanish or French courses, approximately 1,000 students. CAP includes computer-scored reading and listening components and human-rated speaking and writing components. Results provide evidence of student proficiency with levels similar to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

Our research questions were these:

  • Within our university program, does each level of our program offer sufficient preparation for successful vertical articulation?
  • How can proficiency data inform programmatic changes across levels?

In summary, our findings are these:

  • Reading: About 40% of 1st-year and 60% of 2nd-year students reach Expanding (similar to ACTFL Advanced) levels;
  • Listening: About 30% of 1st-year and 50% of 2nd-year students reach Transitioning (similar to ACTFL Intermediate levels; few reach Expanding;
  • Writing and speaking: About 50% of 1st-year and 75% of 2nd-year students reach Transitioning (similar to ACTFL Intermediate levels; few reach Expanding.

Based on these results, the following conclusions can be drawn: (1) Student proficiency for all skills increases year to year. (2) Reading is the strongest skill, and by the end of second year, many students are able to read Advanced level materials. Thus, third-year courses can use materials at Advanced levels to strengthen and increase students' abilities. (3) Listening is the weakest skill, and few students are able to perform at the Expanding level. It may be useful to consider curricular changes that build higher level listening skills. (4) Both writing and speaking lag behind reading. Here, the program administrators may want to compare the students’ speaking and writing samples on the test with those observed in the class room. It is possible that the assessment environment does not provide the best venue for producing Advanced level writing.

Reflecting on the test results and student behaviors in the classroom can offer insights as to how to focus the program and improve skills to satisfy both program and student goals.

Activity of the Week

  • Reflecting on Assessment Data

    By Marilyn Mi, Chinese Teacher on Special Assignment at Portland Public Schools, Stephanie Knight, CASLS Language Technology Specialist, and Dr. Linda Forrest, CASLS Research Director

    The activity featured below is for educators. It is one approach to working with assessment data from proficiency assessments.

    Learning Objectives:  Teachers will be able to

    • Demonstrate understanding of ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
    • Compare and contrast learner work with exemplars.
    • Use data to inform instruction and instructional strategies.

    Modes: Presentational Speaking, Presentational Writing, Interpersonal Communication, Interpretive Reading, and Interpretive Listening

    Materials Needed: Student assessment exemplars, ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, Student work


    1. Review assessment data for learners (either on the class level or a district level depending on context). Use the following questions to guide your thinking:
    1.  What is the middle score? Is that indicative of my class on average?
    2. What are the highest and lowest scores? What is the relationship between the range of scores and level of differentiation I need in my classroom?
    3. What are the scores of the ‘middle half’ of my students? How does this information inform the learning activities that I develop for my learners?
    4. How do my learners’ productive skills compare to their receptive skills?
    5. How do my learners’ reading and writing skills compare? What about listening and speaking? How might this/does this relate to their interpersonal communicative abilities?
    1. Review assessment exemplars from the proficiency assessment in question in order to ensure understanding of how learner-produced texts are evaluated. This process is best realized by first attempting to evaluate the exemplars with the appropriate rubrics and then discussing how the exemplars were actually evaluated. It is important during this discussion to focus on how key phrases from the rubrics should be interpreted.
    2. Choose a random sampling of texts produced by learners in your class to compare with the exemplars. Use the following questions to guide your thinking:
    1. What proficiency levels should my learners be at? Are they there?
    2. Where do the strengths of my students lie? What does that information tell me about my teaching?
    3. What are the weaknesses of my learners? What are some instructional strategies that I want to focus on to address those weaknesses?
    4. Based on the text comparison and the data analysis, what is one realistic goal that I can set for my learners? What steps will I take to achieve that goal?


    While it is fine to engage in this assessment review process individually, understanding and strategy development is more robust when engaging in the assessment review process in groups such as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

    The process for data analysis is most fruitful when educators are able to look a specific learners’ data over time in addition to the data discussed in this activity. Such an analysis, in combination with conversations with learners, has the potential to reveal general factors that impact learner success.

CASLS Spotlight: CUALHE 2016 Annual Meeting and Conference

The Consortium of Useful Assessment in Language and Humanities Education (CUALHE) annual meeting and conference was held on Oct 7-8. 2016. CUALHE is a collaborative effort to share and enhance assessment practices, fostering a culture of reflective teaching. The goals of the annual meeting as stated on the website were as follows: (a) to provide a forum for those working on outcomes assessment (and related endeavors) to present and exchange ideas, and (b) to enable strategic planning of the Consortium organization and activities.

CASLS Director Dr. Julie Sykes presented as the keynote speaker on Proficiency and Pragmatics: Expanding Our Repertoire of Language Assessment, which focused on empirically based framework for assessing the pragmatic abilities of language learners as related to language proficiency through exploration of four dimensions critical to L2 pragmatic analysis and instruction – (1) knowledge, (2) analysis, (3) subjectivity, and (4) awareness. CASLS Research Director Dr. Linda Forrest and CASLS advisory board member and Professor of Spanish at the University of Oregon Dr. Robert Davis presented on Improving the Student Experience through Program-wide Assessment and Articulation.



Language Corner

Portfolios, Reflection, and Writing

Source: Language Sensei Back to Quick Links


Colleen Lee has written a helpful blog post describing how she unpacks rubrics for her students’ written work and has them build a portfolio and use it as a resource before undertaking a new writing task. It serves as wonderful food for thought regarding how to incorporate formative assessment more thoroughly into instruction. Read the blog post here:

5 Tips for Low-Stress Interpersonal Assessment

Source: PBL in the TL Back to Quick Links


Laura K. Sexton shares some ideas for keeping your students’ anxieties low and their performance high during recorded interpersonal assessments in this blog post:

New OFLA Tech Resource and IPAs

Source: FLTEACH Back to Quick Links

Bryan R. Drost of the Ohio Foreign Language Association Technology Integration Committee recently posted the following on the FLTEACH listserv:

Over the course of the 2016-2017 school year, the OFLA tech team is in the process of updating our free resources that you can use to help support students with their language proficiency. As we are editing and adding new resources we are making sure that:

·     Culture is embedded throughout each task,
·     Each task can be used with or without technology,
·     Each technology tool is a free resource, available on multiple platforms,
·     Technology-based tasks are at higher levels of the SAMR model,
·     Each task conforms to the major levels of ACTFL proficiency guidelines,
·     Authentic resources are used throughout each activity in multiple languages,
·     Each technology tool helps teachers progress to higher levels of technology proficiency, as defined by OFLA Tech’s Integration Rubric.

We are proud to release today, an updated IPA that can be found at our new resource location OFLA Tech Resources, <>. We encourage you to check this IPA out – it ties social media to personal descriptions and is anchored with an essential question in three languages! I want to especially thank Angela Gardner for her work with this task.

Our team is very excited for this project and hope that you will find it useful.
As always, if you have questions or need additional supports, please feel free to contact any of our teammates.

Drost, B. [FLTEACH] New OFLA Tech Resource and IPAs. FLTEACH listserv (FLTEACH@LISTSERV.BUFFALO.EDU, 28 Sep 2016).

Two Websites about Morocco

Source: Arabic K-12 Teachers Network Back to Quick Links


The Morocco-focused website Mazyan Bizaf features podcasts, interviews, and articles in English and in Arabic about Moroccan dialect, culture, and study abroad. It is available at

The website’s La Bas podcast explores vocabulary and grammar patterns of Moroccan Arabic and is oriented toward learners. It is available at

Free Resources for Learning Chinese Online

Source: Sapore de Cina Back to Quick Links


Here is a curated collection of online resources for learning Chinese, updated yearly on the Sapore di Cina website and currently numbering 67:

Latest Version of “Facts about Germany” Now Available in English and German

Source: Back to Quick Links


The “Facts about Germany” is available as a book, PDF download, or e-paper. In addition to just the standard book, a shorter edition for young people is also available. The latest edition has arrived, and it is available in English ( and in German (

A Two Way Exchange: Volunteering with Refugees in Berlin

Source: Back to Quick Links

Although this article is a little over a month old at this point, it’s a nice positive treatment of Germans volunteering to help refugees to their country:

steMINTegrate: Online Platform for Sharing German Lessons for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathmatics

Source: Goethe-Institut Back to Quick Links


steMINTegrate is a teaching and collaboration tool for building and sharing lessons and curricula for teaching the German language for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Visit the steMINTegrate to view a video tutorial that explains how to upload content, or to explore existing curriculum:

Daily Routine Authentic Resources

Source: Maris Hawkins Back to Quick Links

Here is a small but high-quality annotated collection of online authentic resources in Spanish having to do with daily routines:

Online Resources for Day of the Dead

Source: Mis Clases Locas Back to Quick Links


Here is a curated collection of online resources dealing with the Day of the Dead in the Spanish-speaking world:

Video Shorts: La universidad responde II

Source: Universidad de Vigo Back to Quick Links


Here is a nice source of authentic, academically-oriented content for Spanish learners: a set of short videos in which university researchers and professors respond to questions such as “Can you hear colors?” and “What is the TTIP?”

Access this resource at

NameCoach App Helps You Pronounce Your Students’ Names Correctly

Source: Colorín Colorado Back to Quick Links


NameCoach is an app that provides audio recordings of people saying their names, making it much easier to both learn and remember how to say a name. To collect names, schools use NameCoach’s web software to either directly share a link or send a mass email to students with a link to audio record their names. They can also embed a link online in a website that students will be accessing, such as a student registration page.

Learn more about NameCoach here:

Readers of Colorín Colorado ( can use this app for free.

Parent Guide for English Learners

Source: Education Northwest Back to Quick Links


For families of English learners there is a lot to know, including how their children are:

•    Identified as English learners
•    Taught English and other subjects
•    Tested, tested, and tested some more
•    Designated as proficient in academic English and moved out of English learner services

"The Parent Guide for English Learners" gives you basic information about each of these topics. It will help you talk with your child’s school, ask the right questions, and support your child on their journey as an English learner. English and Spanish versions are available.

Access the guide at

Activity: Scavenger Hunt

Source: EFL Teaching Recipes Back to Quick Links

Here is a ready-made activity that has students looking for and talking about common items that they’re likely to have with them. The activity is estimated to take 25 minutes.

Access the scavenger hunt activity at

Where to Find Open Educational Resources for Language Classes

Source: Transparent Language Back to Quick Links

This post from Transparent Language describes several good places to find free online resources that you can use for teaching and learning languages:

How to Integrate Intercultural Learning into Your Classroom

Source: Education Week Back to Quick Links


In this recent blog post, Melissa Liles writes, “Over the past decade, we educators have grappled with defining and assessing the most critical education goals for the 21st century:

•    Science, technology, engineering, math? Check.
•    Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making? Of course.
•    Intercultural awareness, foreign languages, competence in working across borders, and respect for other cultures? Really? Tell me more...

There is broad agreement that the first two sets of goals above will be crucial for the decades ahead. But many still aren't convinced about the importance of intercultural competence for 21st century learners.

Fernando M. Reimers, Harvard Professor, Connie Chung, Harvard Research Program Director, and their co-authors address this disconnect between what is taught and what critical skills and competencies are needed in the world today—and tomorrow—in their latest book, Teaching and Learning for the Twenty-First Century: Educational Goals, Policies, and Curricula from Six Nations.

…Bottom line according to Reimers and colleagues? "The development of global competence is a necessity for all students in the 21st century."

Read the full blog post for practical and effective ideas for introducing intercultural learning in your school:

Professional Development

Call for Papers: CALL Research Conference

Source: University of California Berkeley Back to Quick Links


CALL in CONTEXT: 18th International CALL Research Conference
UC Berkeley
July 7-9, 2017

The international CALL Research Conferences focus on the role of technology in the language learning, teaching and testing process. The 2017 conference will focus on the role of the local context of the learner:

•    How does the local context shape the design of our learning environment?
•    How to determine the role and shape of the most appropriate technologies for our context?
•    To what extent can general theories such as Constructivism, Social Semiotics, Dynamic Complex Systems and Self-Determination Theory be applied to our local context?
•    How generalizable are the findings from experimental research in our context?
•    How can/should we detect and formulate to what extent learners and teachers are different?
•    To what extent do technologies afford context-dependent enrichment and personalization of the learning process? What are the routines and models for doing so?
•    What is the impact of context-dependency on the development and use of Open Educational Resources?
•    How do publishers deal with adaptation of their content to various CALL contexts?
•    To what extent can technology contribute to contextualization of the learning process?

Deadline for submission of abstracts: February 1, 2017.

View the full call for papers at

NYS TESOL 46th Annual Conference

Source: NYS TESOL Back to Quick Links

NYS TESOL 46th Annual Conference
Nov 4 and 5, 2016
Crowne Plaza Syracuse
Collaboration in the Classroom and Beyond

Visit the conference website to register:

Call for Abstracts: Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference

Source: University of Texas at Austin Back to Quick Links


The organizers of the Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference 23 (GLAC), sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin, invite faculty, graduate students, and independent scholars to submit abstracts to the conference which will be held on the UT campus on April 20-23, 2017.

Papers and posters may be on any linguistic or philological aspect of any historical or modern Germanic language or dialect, including English (to the Early Modern period) and the extraterritorial varieties. Papers from the full range of linguistic and philological subfields, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, stylistics, metrics, first and second language acquisition, foreign language education, language contact, and language change, as well as differing theoretical perspectives, are welcome.

Abstracts must be submitted electronically in PDF format by January 15th, 2017.

View the full call for abstracts at

CPI Spanish Immersion School in Costa Rica

Source: CPI Back to Quick Links


Unique graduate credit opportunity for teaching professionals: cultural immersion, linguistic advancement and classroom application

COSTA RICA, June 18 to July 2, 2017

Broaden your cultural perspective, increase your language proficiency, and revolutionize your teaching through this 2 week on-site course in extraordinary Costa Rica. Daily course content is complemented by in-community hand’s on applications with the week-end dedicated to a cultural and nature oriented excursion to the fantastic Caribbean coast. The base course grants 3 Master’s level credits; add-on Spanish classes organized by skill level afford the opportunity to earn a total of 6 graduate level credits. At its conclusion, you will be ready to bring to your classroom the same focus on communication strategies and real-world applications. New Mexico State University (NMSU) is the university of record; for all inquiries kindly contact

You can learn more about CPI here:

5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation

Source: NFLRC Back to Quick Links


The 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC), “Vital Voices: Linking Language & Wellbeing,” will be held March 2-5, 2017, at the Hawaiʻi Imin International Conference Center on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The 5th ICLDC is hosted by the Department of Linguistics and the National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The conference program will feature two keynote talks, Talk Story roundtable discussions, and Workshops (pending final approval of funding). An optional Hilo Field Study (on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi) to visit Hawaiian language revitalization programs in action will immediately precede the conference (February 28-March 1).

The theme of the 5th ICLDC is “Vital Voices: Linking Language & Wellbeing.” Wellbeing is a state of the body and mind that encompasses the presence of positive moods and emotions, life satisfaction, fulfillment and positive functioning, and the absence of negative emotions like anxiety. Increasingly, researchers in several fields have noted a positive correlation between language maintenance and wellbeing in endangered language communities. While the nature of the connection between language and wellbeing remains the subject of much debate, the existence of a connection is not entirely unexpected, given the range of outcomes associated with wellbeing.

Registration is limited to 400 participants, and opened October 1.
Learn more about the conference at

Call for Submissions: Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics

Source: Georgetown University Back to Quick Links


GURT2017: Variable Properties: Their Nature and Acquisition
10-12 March, 2017

GURT 2017 will focus on variable properties in language, all kinds, and particularly on how they are acquired. It will consider the full range of variable properties, how they are acquired by young children or adults, and how they may change across generations of speakers. A primary goal of GURT 2017 is to foster interaction and potential collaboration among researchers investigating language from the perspective of different subfields and using a range of methodologies. The conference aims to make progress toward a biologically coherent account of the full range of variation, bridging the silos that keep sociolinguists from interacting with students of syntactic variation, and keep historical linguists apart from phoneticians working on variability. A primary goal of GURT 2017 is thus to change the dialog, and to provide opportunities for experienced scholars to mentor young scholars, including graduate students and postdocs, working on variation, encouraging them to work across domains.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to October 31. View the call for submissions at


New Issue of Language Learning & Technology

Source: Language Learning & Technology Back to Quick Links

The October 2016 issue of Language Learning & Technology is available online at In this issue:

•    Individual Versus Interactive Task-based Performance Through Voice-based Computer-mediated Communication
•    Oral-performance Language Tasks for CSL Beginners in Second Life
•    Mapping Languaging in Digital Spaces: Literacy Practices at Borderlands
•    Applying Form-focused Approaches to L2 Vocabulary Instruction Through Podcasts
•    Mobile English Vocabulary Learning Based on Concept-mapping Strategy
•    Positioning Identity in Computer-mediated Discourse among ESOL Learners
•    Data-driven Learning of Collocations: Learner Performance, Proficiency, and Perceptions
•    Syntactic Enhancement and Second Language Literacy: An Experimental Study

Plus announcements, calls for papers, columns, and reviews.

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