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.


InterCom Survey

We at CASLS really want to know how useful InterCom is for you and how we can make it better. You can help us by taking our short survey:

Topic of the Week: How Does My Planning of Learning Experiences Prepare for Student Learning? - Using TELL Project Resources to Guide Teacher Planning

Thomas Sauer is the Director of Design and Communication for AdvanceLearning and an independent consultant. He previously held positions as world language specialist in the Fayette County Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools for almost ten years and taught German at the University of Kentucky, Georgetown College and Kentucky Educational Television. He has directed a variety of state and federal grants, most recently as program director and consultant for several successful STARTALK programs.

One of the major goals for an effective language teacher is moving learners from processing language input to producing output at varying degrees of proficiency. Specific strategies for facilitating that process may and should vary based on the specific needs of the learners (e.g. age, background and interests) as well as the strengths of the teacher. Undoubtedly the most important task for any language teacher then is the PLANNING of experiences that will allow learners to move through that process in a way that leaves them feeling successful and excited to learn a new language.  Planning of such learning experiences involves 1) developing standards-based learning targets to motivate students and engage with them as partners in the learning process; 2) designing authentic assessment tasks that allow students to demonstrate what they can do with what they know; and 3) outlining an intentional sequence of activities that will allow students to meet the carefully developed learning targets.

These critical characteristics and behaviors of a model world language teacher are outlined in “Planning," one of the seven domains of the Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL) Framework published in 2011. The “Planning” domain outlines nine teacher behaviors that are critical pieces of the planning process for effective teachers. The TELL Project began as a collaborative initiative led by world language district coordinators Sharon Deering (Arlington [TX] Independent School District), Alyssa Villarreal (Shelby County [TN] Schools), and independent consultants, Greg Duncan (InterPrep) and Thomas Sauer (LearningShifts). The TELL Framework is founded on three core beliefs: (1) the criteria contained within the framework represent the model world language teacher; (2) ALL world language teachers can become the model if the model teacher is defined; and (3) the identified characteristics and behaviors are intended to guide individual teacher growth toward the model and are not necessarily tied to teacher appraisal.

While the TELL Project provides a suite of instruments designed to help teachers reflect on their own practice, get feedback on their current practice, and outline a professional learning plan, there are now several tools designed to support teachers in the PLANNING process that may be accessed by any teacher regardless of their level of familiarity with the TELL Framework. These tools include:

  • A short Overview Essay providing an introduction to the topic of Learning Targets as well a connection to research.
  • A Video Vignette featuring classroom scenes as well as interviews with practicing teachers and their students and world language teaching experts reflecting on the impact of learning targets.
  • An At-a-glance Infographic providing a visual representation of learning targets and highlighting important features, sample strategies, helpful tips and more.
  • Feedback Form designed for teachers to use in order to determine the degree to which their work exemplifies effective characteristics when developing learning targets.
  • A Teacher Presentation developed by a practicing teacher providing an explanation of learning targets as well as practical tips from the teacher’s classroom.
  • A Processing Guide designed to facilitate the module, either used independently or as part of a larger self-paced module experience.

Although the realities for many teachers may provide only a minimal amount of time for planning and limited access to content-specific professional learning opportunities, tools such as the ones provided by the TELL Project will help teachers make better decisions and ease their work as they prepare for student learning.

Activity of the Week

  • Reflection for Curriculum Development

    Stephanie Knight is the Language Technology Specialist for CASLS at the University of Oregon. Given busy teacher realities, this activity was developed to help teachers reflect quickly before, during, and after a unit of study.

    Time is our most precious resource as educators. We want desperately to give students meaningful feedback, develop differentiated lesson plans that reach all learning styles, and have our students love our content as much as we do. Unfortunately, given the reality facing most teachers of four or more preps, close to 200 students on their respective loads, and district initiatives commanding some of the time that teachers can set aside for planning, it can be difficult to execute the craft of teaching with as much care and focus as would be desired.

    This week, our hope is that the 10 following questions can be used as you plan individually or collaboratively in order to expedite important thinking, keep you involved in a continual cycle of improvement, and to work with intention.


    1. Answer the following questions before undertaking a unit of study:
    • How do I define success for my students during this unit? Is it more appropriate to measure the growth of the students or the ultimate acquisition of the students?
    • How will I know that students have succeeded? What data do I need to keep track of?
    • What are my strengths as a teacher that I want to make sure to utilize during this unit (

           2)  Answer the following questions during a unit of study:

    • What manageable mechanisms will I use to provide feedback to my students?
    • How will I know when students struggle?
    • How can I make the students’ voices heard regarding intervention and differentiation needs? Will I use exit tickets, short writing and recording samples, and/or self-reflection sheets?
    • Did I give the students enough opportunities to interact with the material at hand in a meaningful way so that they would commit it to memory? Did I obey the 10/24/7 rule (

    3)  Answer the following questions after a unit of study:

    • Did my students succeed? How do I know?
    • What did I do well? How can I continue to use those strengths?
    • What did not go well? What are 1-2 things that I want to change for next time?

    It is recommended that you consider these questions as you teach all units of study. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to your students!

    Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

    -Theodore Roosevelt

CASLS Spotlight: ECOPOD Piloting Underway!

CASLS is proud to announce an exciting new project to engage learners in academic residential communities — ECOPOD. Using ARIS, a development platform for mobile delivery, ECOPOD  brings together both technical expertise and an immersive language environment to produce a game that pushes second language learners to interact with each other and their environment. Through a choose your own adventure style of game play, learners must complete a series of community objectives to increase and maintain the health of their pod. This can be done through social collaboration, place-based scavenger hunts, and problem-based tasks designed to connect academic

In one community objective, tied to the UO Common Reading, players must survive a global pandemic in both their local context and in a location where the target language is spoken. Players must think and act in their target language in order to escape death from the pandemic.

Benefits of ECOPOD do not come strictly from the pragmatic excitement elicited in trying to survive a pandemic or increase the health of one’s pod, rather, it exists in the interactions between the players and their environment, as well as solving complex, real-world problems. Players must physically go to certain locations in order to pick up items, prompt the next part in the game, and survive, all the while competing and trading with other players for game resources.

ECOPOD is the newest addition to the bourgeoning field of placed-based language learning. ECOPOD will be available in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Japanese, and German with activities linked to the University of Oregon campus; the goal is for students to play in their target language. In doing so, players reinforce their language skills in order to successfully navigate the multilingual world of a pandemic. This adds to the currently existing body of work in this area, accompanying projects such as Mentira and Chrono Ops at Portland State University. For additional projects see

The U.S. Department of Education, under grant #P229A14004, supports development of this project. Contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education nor imply endorsement by the federal government. Sponsorship is also provided by the University of Oregon Division of Undergraduate Studies, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Office of International Affairs.

Language Corner

Article: Bilingual Education and the Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

Source: Truthout Back to Quick Links


A Civil Rights Legacy Squandered? Bilingual Education and the Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind
by Paul J. Ramsey
August 15, 2015

As Congress continues its work on the long-overdue reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), debates about Title I funding, testing, standards, accountability and charter schools have captured the bulk of the media's attention. Much less consideration has been given to another (and historically important) aspect of the legislation, which is also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): bilingual education.

In 1968, the Bilingual Education Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, becoming Title VII of ESEA - a hard-fought civil rights victory. However, beginning in the 1980s (as I've chronicled in The Bilingual School in the United States) subsequent reauthorizations of ESEA began to reflect the political pressure of the English-only movement and, thus, included more funding for non-bilingual programs, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) and English immersion.

Read the full article at

Six Very Common Flaws of Foreign Language Assessment

Source: The Language Gym Back to Quick Links


From French and Spanish Gianfranco Conti, here is some advice for devising assessments, especially assessments that are used across a department of district:

W.I.L.D. Weekend Immersed in Language Development for Alabama Spanish, French, and German Students

Source: AAFLT Back to Quick Links


W.I.L.D. Weekend Immersed in Language Development
November 7, 8, 9, 2014
YMCA Hargis Retreat

The Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers is proud to announce that the 10th annual Weekend Immersed in Language Development (W.I.L.D.) student experience will be offered in November for students of Spanish, French, and German who have completed at least one full course of the target language and who are at least in the 10th grade in the fall of 2014. This 2 ½ day residential program will take place at the YMCA Hargis Retreat just outside Birmingham. The activities planned will include daily living experiences as well as cultural and academic learning experiences. The purpose of the project is to put the students in a setting where they will use the language they are acquiring in a non-threatening, relaxed atmosphere whose goal is communication. Therefore, activities will include physical activities, film discussion, games, music, art, history and grammar. Throughout the weekend, second language acquisition will take place either directly from lectures and reading/writing experiences or indirectly through daily living experiences and games.

For full details go to

Grants and Fellowship from the Japan Foundation

Source: Japan Foundation New York Back to Quick Links


Here are three sources of funding from the Japan Foundation:

This program is designed to: (i) support institutions that face difficulties maintaining current levels of infrastructure due to cuts in funding for Japanese studies in the US; and (ii) stimulate interest in Japanese studies by small and newer institutions without an established program of Japanese studies or those that lack personnel or resources.
Grants of up to $25,000 will be given to institutions that execute proposals designed to maintain and advance the infrastructural scale of Japanese Studies at their institution.
Support in this round will be given for project activities taking place within one year of award.
Application materials must arrive at the JFNY office no later than Thursday, October 15, 2015.
Full details:

This annual program is designed to encourage innovative and sustained growth of Japanese studies in the United States. Each institution should formulate convincing proposals that enhance the teaching of Japan, the quality of research on Japan, the quality of equipment and materials (including libraries), and provide opportunities for students and faculty to travel to Japan.
Projects must commence between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 and its duration can be up to three years. The maximum amount of the grant request from the Japan Foundation is $150,000 per year.
The application must be received by the Japan Foundation, New York by post no later than Monday, November 2, 2015.
Full details:

This program provides support to outstanding scholars in the field by offering the opportunity to conduct research in Japan.
2016-2017 Fellowship Categories
Scholars and Researchers (Long-Term) (2-12 months):
Scholars and researchers in the humanities or social sciences. Applicants must hold Ph.D. or equivalent professional experience at the time of application.
Scholars and Researchers (Short-Term) (21-59 days):
Scholars and researchers in the humanities and social sciences who need to conduct intensive research in Japan. Applicants must hold Ph.D. or equivalent professional experience at the time of application.
Doctoral Candidates (4-12 months):
Doctoral candidates in the humanities or social sciences. Applicants must have achieved ABD status by the time the fellowship begins.
Application deadline: 11:59pm EST on Monday, November 2, 2015
Full details:

Take It Easy on Yourself!

Source: Creative Language Class Back to Quick Links


This week’s Topic of the Week and Activity of the Week focus on teacher reflection and professional development as they related to curriculum design. It is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to incorporate lots of new and exciting ideas into what you do in your classroom. Take a deep breath, and then read this blog post from the Creative Language Class blog about taking things one step at a time:

Alaska Native Languages Website

Source: Alaska History and Cultural Studies Back to Quick Links

The Alaska Humanities Forum has launched a new website dedicated to Alaska Native languages. Learn about Alaska Native languages and history in general, and then learn about specific families and languages here:

Read a recent news article about this resource here:

Lesson Plan Contest: Arab Society and Culture

Source: Al-Masdar Back to Quick Links


Are you a K-12 teacher? Would you like to win $500? Have you ever designed a lesson that centered on some aspect of the Arab world? The Qatar Foundation International (QFI) is hosting a lesson plan contest to showcase outstanding lesson plans about Arab society and culture in the Arab World in various disciplines (such as the arts, science, history, geography, and more).

The deadline to submit your lesson plan is September 30, 2015.

For full details go to

Candy Cone Tradition Sweetens Start of School for First-Graders in Germany

Source: Back to Quick Links

Here is an English-language article about the tradition of giving candy-filled cones to first-graders at the beginning of the school year in Germany:

SLO Pre-Assessment for French 2 Students

Source: Madame's Musings Back to Quick Links


Do you need to set Student Learning Objectives and pre-assess for them in your school? Here is an example for how you can do it, from French teacher, blogger, and InterCom guest contributor Lisa Shepard:

Comme Une Française: Focus on Colloquial French

Source: Comme Une Française Back to Quick Links


Géraldine Lapère is a French woman with a website dedicated to French as it is actually spoken in France. Website resources include videos with lessons in colloquial French and an email subscription to tips and more video lessons each Tuesday.

Ms. Lapère’s website is available at

Actividad con refranes

Source: Anotaciones con ELE Back to Quick Links


Here is a quick mixer activity for exposing students to different refranes (sayings) in Spanish:

Free Nursery Rhymes Posters in English and Spanish

Source: ALSC Back to Quick Links


The Association for Library Service to Children has launched Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play. These shareable resources were designed to bridge the 30 Million Word Gap by providing parents with proven ways to build their children's literacy skills. Babies Need Words Every Day resources include eight visually appealing posters that deliver simple, effective rhymes, games and other suggestions for immediate, enriching ways to communicate with babies.

These free posters are available in English and Spanish, and are ideal for posting above changing tables in child care centers, in doctors’ waiting rooms and anywhere else where children and their caregivers have a moment to talk, read, sing and play. ALSC also provides a book list that suggests some books for parents to request at their local library.

Access the free posters at

El Baúl de Cortometrajes: Film Shorts Online

Source: El Baúl de Cortometrajes Back to Quick Links


The Spanish-language Baúl de Cortometrajes website hosts a collection of film shorts, mostly in Spanish and English. See a listing of available films at

Getting to Know Each Other Through a Single Word

Source: TESOL Back to Quick Links


Here are some getting-to-know-you activities that can be used at the beginning of the school year with a wide range of proficiency levels:

September 17 Is Global Collaboration Day

Source: Global Collaboration Day Back to Quick Links


Students, teachers, and organizations will celebrate global collaboration on September 17th. On this day (and beyond), experienced global educators and professionals will host connective projects and events and invite public participation. The primary goals of this whole day event are to demonstrate the power of global connectivity in classrooms, schools, institutions of informal learning and universities around the world, and to introduce others to the tools, resources and projects that are available to educators today.

Find out how you can be involved at

See Photos from around the World with Panoramio

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

Panoramio is a mash-up from Google - it combines the technology from Google Maps or Google Earth with a platform in which members can share their own photos. In other words, you can explore the world by viewing actual photos taken by people who share them on Panoramio.

Explore Panoramio at

Like many applications, Panoramio may not be around forever. Google planned to shut Panoramio down in order to focus on a more feature-rich version of Google Maps, but due to feedback from Panoramio’s many users and fans, the company has decided to leave it running - for now. Learn more at

Reading Strategy: “First Lines” for Developing Comprehension

Source: Teach them English Back to Quick Links


Here is the next in a summer-long series about reading strategies on Adam Simpson’s Teach them English blog. From the blog: “First Lines is, essentially, a pre-reading comprehension strategy in which learners read the beginning sentences from a text and then make predictions about that text. This technique helps learners to focus their attention on what they can tell from the first lines; as they go on to read the text in its entirety they discuss, revisit and/or revise their original predictions.”

Read the full blog post here:

6 Questions to Start, Sustain, and Elevate Conversation About a Text

Source: Indwelling Language Back to Quick Links


Justin Slocum Bailey lists these common questions that he hears from teachers:

1. How do I get my students to talk more?
2. How can I use texts without putting interaction on hold?
3. How can we have high-level conversations with students who are not advanced speakers?

One way to address them, he says, is to ask good questions. He goes on to list six questions/question types that can engage students in conversations in this blog post:

New Black Box Episode: The Inescapable Case for Extensive Reading

Source: Indwelling Language Back to Quick Links


Justin Slocum Bailey has just contributed another Black Box episode: a discussion of Rob Waring’s article “The Inescapable Case for Extensive Reading.” Find out why massive exposure to reading and/or listening materials is important for language acquisition, and how extensive reading differs from more difficult intensive reading:

Access past Black Box episodes at

Professional Development

Request for Proposals: 2016 National Chinese Language Conference

Source: Asia Society Back to Quick Links


The National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) provides a high–profile platform for sharing new ideas and best practices in the fields of Chinese language teaching and learning, Chinese arts and culture, and U.S.–China educational exchange. The 9th annual NCLC is organized by Asia Society and the College Board and will be held in Chicago, IL, April 28–30, 2016. The conference will focus on:

•    building and sustaining quality Chinese programs at all levels of K–12 and higher education;
•    cutting-edge approaches to teaching that incorporate culture, technology and collaborations; and
•    best practices in the classroom leading to high levels of language proficiency and cultural competency.

Educators from all areas of K–12 and higher education are encouraged to submit a proposal.

Submission deadline: Friday, October 2, 2015

Learn more and submit a proposal at

Call for Proposals: Central Association of Teachers of Japanese Conference

Source: University of Michigan Back to Quick Links


The Central Association of Teachers of Japanese Conference will take place October 31 and November 1, 2015, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Entitled “Connecting Across Generations,” the main goal of the conference is to bring together Japanese language teachers from different generations in a forum focusing on strategies and innovative methods for maintaining and building healthy Japanese language programs across the country.

The organizers invite the submission of abstracts for paper presentations. Possible topic areas include, but are not limited to, Japanese linguistics, Japanese language pedagogy, Second language acquisition and Japanese as a heritage language.

The submission deadline is Monday, August 31, 2015.

View the full call for proposals at

Pre-Convention Workshops at ACTFL

Source: ACTFL Back to Quick Links

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Annual Convention and World Languages Expo will take place November 20-22 in San Diego. There are also numerous pre-convention workshops being offered on Thursday, November 19. See a list of available pre-convention workshops at

For more information about the ACTFL convention go to

One Teacher’s Experience at the TELL Collab

Source: Language Coaching Back to Quick Links

This week’s Topic of the Week article by Thomas Sauer discusses the Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL) framework. In June the TELL Collab took place. In this two-day professional learning experience, world language educators had the opportunity to explore, model, and share effective language learning practices identified by the TELL Framework. The Collab included a mixture of collaborative sessions, presentations and resource sharing for both teachers and administrators. Teachers received help identifying their own professional learning goals and learned strategies for meeting their goals. Administrators received guidance on how to use the TELL Framework with their teachers.

Read about one teacher’s experience at the TELL Collab in this blog post:

2015 Dora Johnson Awards for Arabic Teachers

Source: CAL Back to Quick Links


The ACTFL Arabic SIG announces the 2015 Dora Johnson Awards, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation International (QFI). The 2015 Dora Johnson Awards will provide funding up to $1,000 for 15 K-12 Arabic language educators to support attendance at the 2015 ACTFL Convention in San Diego, California in November 2015.

Submissions are due Sunday, August 30, 2015.

For full details go to

Symposium on Interlocutor Individual Differences

Source: Indiana University Back to Quick Links


Symposium on Interlocutor Individual Differences
October 1-2, 2015 at Indiana University

This inaugural symposium will bring together leading and junior scholars from various second language acquisition frameworks to facilitate discussion of the theoretical role(s) of the interlocutor within their approach; consider how the individual differences of the interlocutor in each perspective may influence second/foreign language (L2) opportunities; present original, robust, peer-reviewed empirical research on interlocutor individual differences from each theoretical approach; and collaborate and outline existing trends and future areas for research. The organizers’ use of the term interlocutor refers to the input provider and communicative partner for learners in formal and informal L2 settings, and individual differences refer to characteristics that we all have, and differ by degree, such as native language, gender, research focus, and training, among others.

For more information about the symposium go to


Book: Pronunciation Fundamentals

Source: John Benjamins Publishing Company Back to Quick Links


Pronunciation Fundamentals: Evidence-based perspectives for L2 teaching and research
By Tracey M. Derwing and Murray J. Munro
Published by John Benjamins Publishing Company

The emergence of empirical approaches to L2 pronunciation research and teaching is a powerful fourth wave in the history of the field. Authored by two leading proponents of evidence-based instruction, this volume surveys both foundational and cutting-edge empirical work and pinpoints its ramifications for pedagogy. The authors begin by tracing the history of pronunciation instruction and explicating L2 phonetic learning processes. Subsequent chapters explore the themes, strengths, and ethical problems of the field through the lens of the intelligibility principle. The importance of error gravity, and the need for assessment and individualized instruction are highlighted, and the role of L2 accents in social contexts is probed. Material readily available elsewhere has been omitted in favor of an emphasis on the how, why, and when of pronunciation instruction. Anyone with an interest in L2 pronunciation–especially graduate students, language teachers, and experienced researchers–will find much value in this indispensable resource.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Advancing Quantitative Methods in Second Language Research

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Advancing Quantitative Methods in Second Language Research
By Luke Plonsky
Published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

Advancing Quantitative Methods in Second Language Research is the first hands-on guide to conducting advanced research methods in the fields of applied linguistics and second language studies. While a number of texts discuss basic quantitative research methodology, none focus exclusively on providing coverage of alternative advanced statistical procedures in second language studies from a practical approach. The text is bookended by discussions of these advanced procedures in the larger context of second language studies, debating their strengths, weaknesses, and potential for further research; the remaining chapters are how-to sections, each chapter following the same organization, on a wide variety of advanced research methods. By offering much-needed coverage on advanced statistical concepts and procedures, with an eye toward real-world implementation, Advancing Quantitative Methods in Second Language Research enhances the methodological repertoire of graduate students and researchers in applied linguistics and second language studies.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Subscriber Profile

Takeshi Sengiku Login
Email: Back to Top
Language: French, German, Indigenous, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Spanish, ESL/Bilingual, Arabic, Chinese
Content Area: Assessment, Learning Materials & Resources, Methods, Learning Science, Technology
Level: Admin/Supervisor, Teacher Education
State: ANY
Group: Intercom

InterCom articles do not necessarily reflect the view of CASLS, and the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations does not imply endorsement.
For subscription information or to edit your InterCom profile:
Send questions about InterCom to

InterCom made possible through support from:
U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI funding for National Language Resource Centers.
Copyright © 2015 Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS)