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: Bilingual Behavior Is a Learning Resource for Heritage Language Learners

Damián Vergara Wilson is the coordinator of the Sabine Ulibarrí Spanish as a Heritage Language Program at the University of New Mexico. His main areas of research and teaching are historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and sociology of language.

Heritage language speech communities are often stigmatized for their speech practices, but a critical examination through mini-ethnographies can encourage heritage language students to see their communities as a linguistic resource.

Many heritage languages are situated in contexts of bilingualism and language contact as a result of immigration or colonization. Members of such a speech community will display a range of proficiency levels in the heritage language and the dominant language. Frequent alternation between the heritage language and the dominant language (e.g. Span/Eng: fuimos a la big city for dinner ‘we went to the…’) and using borrowed words in discourse (e.g. Where’s his troca ‘truck’) characterize bilingual behavior in contact situations. Many view bilingual behavior as evidence that speakers are linguistically deficient in both languages. Heritage language learners internalize stigmatization and come to view their communities of practice negatively.

Practitioners of heritage language teaching can advocate for heritage language communities by promoting the widespread finding that bilingual behavior is a sign of a competent bilingualism. Engaging in bilingual practices is not a detriment and does not erode or deform either contact language. Instead, it is a continuum in which individuals may function monolingually, or seamlessly weave two languages into one conversation. Promoting bilingual linguistic practices as a skill helps the students to view their own communities more positively and encourages linguistic engagement.

As educators, we can encourage this process through designing community-based activities. For example, a large Spanish as a Heritage Language program in the American Southwest uses a ‘Spanglish Scavenger Hunt’.

Step one: Students brainstorm in groups about who uses Spanglish, where it is used, and what characterizes it.

Step two: Each group must visit the places mentioned and speak to the individuals implicated about their language practices. These informants will divulge valuable perceptions about bilingual practices and often give the students rich examples that characterize community speech norms.

Step three: Because the outcome of these interviews will vary, students will have a great deal of sociolinguistic material to discuss critically as each group presents its findings.

A desirable outcome is that students shift the way they view their communities’ speech norms to be more sympathetic toward circumstances of contact. By doing so, they may engage in these bilingual practices as an important component of developing their heritage language skills. After all, bilingual conversations offer rich input by providing contextual cues in both of the student’s languages.

Activity of the Week

  • Engaging Heritage Learners with their Own Community

    As learners begin to study their heritage language in a formal context, numerous emotions, identity questions, and perceptions can arise. A key to helping learners maneuver these feelings, both positive and negative, is engagement with one's heritage community. The interviews can be done in the language that learners are studying or in a different common language, depending on the level of the learner.

    Objective: To interview members of the heritage community about a topic of interest.

    Resources: Interview Resource Sheet


    1. Pre-interview: Work with learners to highlight questions they might be interested in asking members of their hertigage community. This brainstorming session can also be used to sensitize learners to engagement in the heritage community and any issues that might arise.
    2. Interview: Have learners interview two people from their heritage community.
    3. Reflect: Ask learners to compare the perspectives of each of the two people they interviewed and reflect on the overall experience.

    Note: As is often the case in language classes, you may have heritage and non-heritage learners. In these cases, a number of modifications can be made to this activity. First, the learners can work in pairs to do the interviews, with non-heritage learners partnering with their heritage peers. In addition, all can interview someone in their home about the target language or non-heritage learners can also interview someone from the target language community. Choices about this context will be highly dependent on the local context.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Visits STARTALK Conference

This week Li-Hsien Yang, Program Director for the STARTALK College Readiness Academy and Julie Sykes, CASLS' Director, attended the STARTALK Fall Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. At the conference, participants engaged in workshops, keynotes, and activities relevant to teaching and learning critical, less-commonly taught languages. Yang and Sykes presented tips for using STARTALK Linguafolio Online in summer STARTALK programs. Yang notes, "The best part of the STARTALK conference is connecting with the people you work with throughout the year." For more information about STARTALK program visit

Language Corner

2015 National French Contest: Le Grand Concours

Source: AATF
Language: French Back to Quick Links


Le Grand Concours is a national K-12 French contest from the American Association of Teachers of French. Registration forms for the 2015 contest will be released by the end of October.

Contest dates:
Grades 1-6 (FLES): February 14 - 28, 2015
Grades 7-12 (levels 1-5): February 21 - March 22, 2015

For more details, go to

Introduction to Oral Proficiency Levels

Source: COERLL
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links


Introduction to Oral Proficiency Levels is a free open educational resource (OER) from our sister LRC, the Center for Open Education Resources and Language Learning, that can help you gain a foundational understanding of how to evaluate Spanish speakers. The resource includes:

 Practice: Video-based practice modules designed to strengthen your understanding of the ACTFL Speaking Proficiency Guidelines and to help you evaluate the speaking levels of your language students.
 Materials: Editable versions of the practice modules on Google Drive that you can revise and share with other educators.
 Guidance: Instructions on conducting interviews to assess Spanish learners’ proficiency levels.

This resource is available at
Read a discussion of this resource at
Learn more about COERLL’s projects and plans at

ESL Rural Mural: Website for Small ESL Programs

Source: ESL Rural Mural
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


The purpose of this website is to provide education leaders with key policies, guidelines, strategies and resources needed to follow or consider in order to make educational decisions most relevant to their small rural/suburban ESL programs.

The website is aimed mainly at teachers in New York state, but will be of interest to ESL teachers anywhere. This month’s topic is “The Challenge of Underutilized Language Proficiency Assessment Data.” Read about current constraints and solutions on the Rural Mural website:

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition Has Exciting Projects Planned

Source: CARLA
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

Our sister LRC the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition has some exciting projects planning for the coming four years. Between now and the end of 2018, CARLA will be involved in the following:

Language Immersion Education: To increase language immersion practitioners’ understanding of research-based practice, and expand the research base supporting immersion, CARLA will 1) offer three summer institutes annually designed for K-12 immersion practitioners; 2) host the biennial International Conference on Immersion Education in 2016; 3) publish Research-to-Practice Briefs targeting topics of critical interest to immersion educators; and 4) carry out a multi-year program of research on instructional strategies and student learning outcomes for language and literacy in early total Mandarin immersion programs.

Advanced Proficiency in Academic Environments: To create and support curricular innovations that target higher levels of proficiency by integrating language and content across the disciplines, CARLA will: 1) construct a national repository of exemplary Languages Across the Curriculum syllabi; 2) develop a summer institute for teachers on incorporating authentic environmental sustainability content into language courses and host an academic seminar in Spring 2016 on the environmental humanities for both literature and language faculty; and 3) field-test an innovative multilingual curricular unit using social media to focus on culture and identity for high school heritage language learners.

Online Education: To improve language teachers’ understanding of new online teaching methods and effective technology integration in developing online proficiency-based language courses, CARLA will: 1) offer an experiential online course on teaching language online on an annual basis; and 2) support a growing network of online language teachers. CARLA will also offer two annual summer institutes and a series of annual local/remote audience workshops for teachers on effective integration of online tools in language instruction.

Language Teacher Education: To provide a forum for language teacher educators to share research and best practice, CARLA will host the popular biennial Language Teacher Education Conference in May 2015, and assist the National Heritage Language Resource Center (NHLRC) in hosting the conference in Spring 2017 in Los Angeles.

Less Commonly Taught Languages Database: To help prospective learners locate and evaluate the characteristics of LCTL programs in the nation, CARLA will continue to update and maintain its comprehensive LCTL database showing where LCTLs are offered throughout North America, with up-to-date information on grade levels, instructional levels, proficiency targets, time frames, and most recently, interactive maps.

Learner Language: To help teachers better understand their students’ second language acquisition processes, CARLA will create new multimedia materials on learner language produced by foreign language and heritage language learners of Spanish.

Dissemination of Resources and Activities: To expand K-16 teachers’ national access to CARLA resources and professional development, CARLA will: 1) expand its popular annual summer institute program with new topics and local/remote delivery methods; 2) offer two webinars a year to extend the reach of CARLA-based initiatives; and 3) further develop the CARLA website to ensure that it remains the “go-to” website for foreign language teachers, immersion teachers, and language teacher educators.

Learn more about CARLA and its work at

Swap Shop for Arabic Resources at the ACTFL Convention

Source: NCLRC Arabic K-12 Bulletin
Language: Arabic Back to Quick Links

As part of the ACTFL conference, QFI will be hosting a "Swap Shop for Arabic Resources" on Saturday, November 22 from 3-3:50 p.m. in Exhibit Hall C-D, Workshop Room 4. Come to hear Arabic teachers present about their most useful resources/materials in the classroom, and share your own materials! Participants are encouraged to bring hard copies of their favorite resource to share at the workshop. If you have any questions, please contact

NCLRC@GW Arabic K-12 Bulletin - October 20, 2014.

For more information about ACTFL’s Annual Convention and World Language Expo, go to

Japanese Halloween Vocabulary

Language: Japanese Back to Quick Links


Here is some Halloween vocabulary in Japanese, plus the song "Obake nante naisa":

Halloween and Day of the Dead Resources

Source: Various
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links

Here are three nice infographics: two comparing the Día de Muertos with Halloween, and one about how to do comparisons in Spanish:

Here is a collection of ideas for Día de Muertos:

Here is a class unit based on fears and scary movies from Zambombazo:

Here is a class unit about Halloween:

Here is a unit about Day of the Dead:

Here are more ideas from Zambombazo:

Southern Connecticut State University’s Training for All Teachers Program Launches English Learner Curriculum Library

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

SCSU's TAT Program, a National Professional Development (NPD) ( grantee, recently launched the English Learner Curriculum Library online. With a click of a button, teachers can access over 250 instructional units, Grades K-12. Connecticut teachers modified the units to make subject content accessible to ELs. Units include lesson plans, narratives, content and language objectives, modified materials, a checklist of sheltered strategies incorporated, and the original unit as it was designed for mainstream students. Also available at this site are Country/Culture Cards, one-page descriptions of the major countries represented by the state’s ELs, with cultural and linguistic information bullets for each.

The English Learner Curriculum Library is available at

NCELA Nexus Newsletter October 24, 2014.

Ways To Differentiate Texts

Source: mELTing activities
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


What do you do when you have students at different levels, and you want them all to be able to read the same text in the target language? Here is a blog post with five suggestions for differentiating:

Pointer for Learning Stations in Your Language Classroom

Source: The Language Sensei
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Teacher Colleen Lee has put together a nice document with helpful hints for using learning stations in your classroom. It is available here:

Five Ways To Use Playing Cards in the Language Classroom

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


Here is a nice blog post with suggestions for activities that use a regular deck of cards:

Professional Development

Call for Proposals: CALL-IS Electronic Village Events

Source: TESOL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


TESOL’s 2015 International Convention and English Language Expo will take place March 25-28, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. The Electronic Village is a set of concurrent sessions that may be attended remotely.

You are invited to submit a proposal for participation in one or more of the CALL Interest Section's Electronic Village Special Events. These include technology fairs, mini-workshops, a developers’ showcase, a showcase of mobile apps for education, and a Classroom of the Future initiative.

Deadline for submissions: November 30, 2014

Learn more about all of these events at

Call for Submissions: Foreign Language Education and Technology Conference

Source: IALLT
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) and the Japan Association for Language Education & Technology (J-LET) are pleased to announce our sixth joint Foreign Language Education and Technology Conference (FLEAT VI), to be held at Harvard University, August 12-15, 2015.

The theme for FLEAT VI is “Identities, Communities, and Technologies in Global Environments.”

The organizers welcome 300-word abstracts on the following suggested areas of interest, equally focused in the fields of language and culture pedagogy, instructional methods involving the innovative application of technologies, language technologies in the K-12 space, and language technology center development and administration. Topic areas include, but are not limited to:

 Technologies and Social Networks for Language Learning
 Language Learning and Communities Outside the Classroom
 Cultural Identities, Technology and Language Learning
 Best Practices in Computer-Assisted Language Learning
 Professional Development Solutions and Challenges
 New Frameworks for Distance Education and Hybrid Environments
 Innovative Practices in K-12 Language and Cultural Learning
 Language Technology Center Administration
 Online Language Learning
 Virtual Environments and Gaming in Language Learning
 Ownership, Publication, and Use in Technological Environments
 Mobile Language Learning

Deadline for session proposals is December 31, 2014.

View the full call for papers at

Call for Nominations of Experts for Study Committee on ELs

Source: NCELA Nexus
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

The Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF) of the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council is searching for experts in the scientific, technical, and medical professions to be considered for a study committee titled “Fostering the Development and Educational Success of Young English Language Learners and Dual Language Learners: Toward New Directions in Policy, Practice, and Research.” The committee will address the continuum of young English and Dual language learners (ELL/DLL) with two focus areas examining the development of language and cultural influences from the home to the community for children birth to age 8; and systems and policies affecting ELL/DLL children and youth in grades K-12, including standards and practices across diverse contexts to foster educational achievement among young ELLs/DLLs. The committee will come to consensus on findings and recommendations that aim to inform a research agenda to address gaps in the knowledge base, policies that impact young ELLs/DLLs, and practices in the range of settings where young ELLs/DLLs learn, grow, and develop, including homes, classrooms and health care settings. The committee’s report will be sponsored by the U.S. Education Department, Health Resources and Services Administration and Administration for Children and Families of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Foundation for Child Development.

Please provide names of any persons you think should be considered for this important task. Please use the following form to submit your recommendations: Suggestions are sought for qualified individuals in all sectors of the scientific and technical community. Experts in the following fields are needed for the committee: Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Linguistics, Demography, General Education, Special Education, Sociology, Public Policy, Cultural Anthropology, and Health. Service on the study committee is also open to scientists and other experts working for a government agency or other sponsor of this project if (1) they have relevant scientific and technical expertise needed to accomplish the committee’s task, and (2) their service will not appear to compromise the independence and objectivity of the study. The BCYF is committed to increasing the participation of under-represented minorities in all phases of its work. The excellence of the members of its study committees is crucial to its work. Your assistance in identifying potential committee members especially from under-represented minorities is greatly appreciated. For further information, contact Sheila Moats, BCYF program officer, at

NCELA Nexus Newsletter October 24, 2014.

112th Annual Conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association

Source: PAMLA
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
112th Annual Conference
Friday, October 31, 2014 to Sunday, November 2, 2014
Riverside Convention Center
Riverside, California

Visit the conference website at

National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Language Annual Conference

Source: NADSFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Language Annual Conference will take place November 18-20 in San Antonio, Texas. The theme is “Novice is not enough – in pursuit of proficiency.” See the meeting schedule at

Learn more about NADSFL at

Webinar: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School

Source: NCELA Nexus
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

Webinar: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School, November 10, 2014 3:00–4:15 p.m. CST.

Join REL Southwest for a free webinar on the latest research and recommendations for teaching academic content and literacy to English learners in elementary and middle school. How can content-area teachers improve instruction for English learners? What strategies are best for teaching academic vocabulary to English learners? Learn from nationally recognized researchers and practitioners as they explore strategies for supporting English learners in building the academic language and literacy skills they need to succeed. Learn more at and register online at Subscribe to the REL Southwest mailing list and Spotlight e-bulletin at to be notified of other upcoming events and to receive information about their services, products, and resources.


Chinese Language Teachers’ Association of Southern California

Source: CLTA-SC
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The Chinese Language Teachers’ Association of Southern California is (CLTA-SC) an academic organization similar to its sister organizations that are sprouting up all over the country. Its goal is to respond to the growing enthusiasm about Chinese and aim to do all that is within the organization’s power to cater to increasing demands on Chinese language instruction and better the teaching of Chinese language and culture. The events that CLTA-SC hosts include conferences and workshops where teachers can exchange ideas and share experiences, as well as students’ activities and cultural events.

Visit the CLTA-SC website to learn more and to join:

39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development

Source: Boston University
Content Area: Learning Science Back to Quick Links


The 39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
November 7-9, 2014
Boston University

Visit the conference website at

Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning Working Group Meeting

Source: Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning Working Group
Content Area: Culture, Learning Science Back to Quick Links

XXIth Annual Sociocultural Theory and Second Language Learning Research Working Group Meeting
November 6-8, 2014
University of Miami (Florida)

Visit the meeting website at


Book: Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning

Source: Multilingual Matters Back to Quick Links


Motivational Dynamics in Language Learning
Edited by Zoltán Dörnyei, Peter D. MacIntyre, and Alastair Henry\
Published by Multilingual Matters

This landmark volume offers a collection of conceptual papers and empirical research studies that investigate the dynamics of language learning motivation from a complex dynamic systems perspective. The contributors include some of the most well-established scholars from three continents, all addressing the question of how we can understand motivation if we perceive it as continuously changing and evolving rather than as a fixed learner trait. The data-based studies also provide useful research models and templates for graduate students and scholars in the fields of applied linguistics and SLA who are interested in engaging with the intriguing area of examining language learning in a dynamic vein.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Intercultural Contact, Language Learning and Migration

Source: Bloomsbury Publishing Back to Quick Links


Intercultural Contact, Language Learning and Migration
Edited by Barbara Geraghty and Jean Conacher
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

At the heart of this volume lies an exploration of what actually happens to languages and their users when cultures come into contact. What actions do supra-national institutions, nation states, communities and individuals take in response to questions raised by the increasingly diverse forms of migration experienced in a globalized world?

The volume reveals the profound impact that decisions made at national and international level can have on the lives of the individual migrant, language student, or speech community. Equally, it evaluates the broader ramifications of actions taken by migrant communities and individual language learners around issues of language learning, language maintenance and intercultural contact. Reflecting Jan Blommaert's assertion that in a world shaped by globalization, what is needed is 'a theory of language in society... of changing language in a changing society', this volume argues that researchers must increasingly seek diverse methodological approaches if they are to do justice to the diversity of experience and response they encounter.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Transforming Postsecondary Foreign Language Teaching in the United States

Source: Springer Back to Quick Links


Transforming Postsecondary Foreign Language Teaching in the United States
Edited by Janet Swaffar and Per Urlaub
Published by Springer

This volume addresses critical challenges and issues facing foreign language departments in colleges and universities across the U.S. It presents the insights of individuals who have built or are in the process of building foreign language curricula during a major transition period in postsecondary institutions.

The authors of this volume come from various language departments and institutional experience from across the U. S., including private and public postsecondary foreign language teachers, researchers and administrators. The chapters address issues and provide templates for curricular change at all learning levels.

The five sections of this book explore: Changing Perceptions about Foreign Language Learning; The Case for a Multi-literacy FL Curriculum in Concept and Assessment Praxis; Curricular Transformations: Historical Hurdles and Faculty Heuristics; Rethinking the Graduate Curriculum; Foreign Languages' Integration into the Interdisciplinary University.

Visit the publisher’s website at

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