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.


NCSSFL-ACTFL Global Can-Do Benchmarks

So far in our July-August series on curriculum development, we've laid out some best practices and then elaborated on the first one, backwards design. In this week's feature article we introduce a helpful tool that will help in developing good performance objectives (something we'll explore more next week), align with national standards, prioritize communication of meaning over grammatical patterns, and incorporate goal setting, learner reflection, and proficiency-oriented feedback: the NCSSFL-ACTFL Global Can-Do Benchmarks. We will explore to to use these benchmarks more in coming Topic of the Week articles and Activities of the Week.

Topic of the Week: NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: A Framework for Considering What Your Students Can Do

by Julie Sykes, CASLS Director.

In 2014, the National Council of State Supervisors for Foreign Languages (NCSSFL) and the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) released the results of a collaborative effort towards aligning NCSSFL Linguafolio®/Can-Do Statements with ACTFL’s Language Proficiency Benchmarks.  The resulting cohesive document provides benchmarks for instructors in curriculum design that can be targeted at a variety of modes and levels, as well across all proficiency levels. The document can be found at:

NCSSFL also provides guidelines for using the Can-Do Statements in classroom instruction and classroom design. They suggest Linguafolio is especially useful for:

  • Differentiated Instruction - using the Can-Do Statements as a diagnostic tool allows instructors to tailor instruction to the needs of their learners.
  • Curriculum Design and Unit/Lesson Design -  the Can-Do's serve as benchmarks to set time-specific learning outcomes. (See an example application in this week’s Activity of the Week)
  • Assessment - evaluation can be designed around a variety of assessment and evaluation needs.

More resources related to using the Can-Do statements in your classroom can be found on NCSSFL’s website and through CASLS’ professional development resources.


Linguafolio Online Network:

CASLS’ Linguafolio Online is a digital e-portfolio that includes the newly released NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. For more information see:

Activity of the Week

  • Speed Dating and Self-Assessment

    Stephanie Knight is the Language Technology Specialist for CASLS at the University of Oregon. This activity was developed in order to introduce teachers to LFO To Go, CASLS’ new mobile app designed to complement LinguaFolio Onlne.

    This activity aims to develop interpersonal speaking for classes with novice-mid and novice-high learners. In completing this activity, students will engage in short conversations in a speed dating format. The goal of using this format is that students will have multiple opportunities to prove mastery of the relevant NCSSFL-ACFTL Can-Do statements to the activity. The students will do two rounds of interviews. The second time through, they will record each interview with a mobile device. At the end of the activity, they will upload their best samples to LinguaFolio Online, CASLS’s online language learning portfolio, with our mobile app, LFO to Go. These samples will serve as evidence regarding how well students achieved the relevant Can-Do statements.

    Mode(s): Interpersonal Speaking, Interpretive Listening


    • Students will develop interpersonal speaking skills.
    • Students will engage in metacognition.
    • Students will reflect on how well that they have learned given content.

    Resources: 2 student survey/reflection sheets, mobile devices


    1. To begin class, lead students in a brainstorm of basic questions to ask when meeting someone for the first time. Review expectations and conventions regarding the use of register in such a situation.
    2. Students will fill out one survey/reflection sheet with information about themselves. After filling out the information, they rank how well that they think that they will be able to achieve the Can-Do statements listed at the bottom of the page. This page also give a brief explanation of the activity at hand.
    3. Set the classroom up so that two rows of students are facing each other. Explain that the students will engage in speed dating with 7-10 different members of the class.  Each conversation will last for 1-1.5 minutes. At the end of the time, students will all move one spot to the right to change partners.
    4. After the students complete the first round of interviews, give global feedback to the class regarding trends that you heard. Each student should also fill out the remaining self-evaluation questions.
    5. Next, students will fill out a second survey sheet with information about an alternate personality that they have invented for the second round of speed dating. They will engage in the same self-reflection as they did for the first round.
    6. During the second round of speed dating, students should record each of their 7-10 conversations on their mobile devices.
    7. At the end of the interviews, have students upload their best interviews as evidence for the relevant can-do statements. Students will evaluate whether or not they ‘Can-do with help’ or ‘Can-do’ when they upload.
    8. Review student samples before the next class period to determine whether or not you agree with the students’ self-assessments. Use what you review to focus the following day’s lesson plans.

    It is recommended that you leave the brainstorming session on the board for students who are struggling. Clearly, the students who use the board would have to answer ‘can-do with help’ when engaging in self-evaluation, but it is an appropriate mechanism to scaffold output for these students. An additional support for struggling students is to let them use their information sheets to read from when answering questions. While needing the sheet means that their capacity for spontaneous oral output is lower than that of some of their peers, it is a worthwhile support given that students are using information that they created in order to communicate.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Introduces New Chinese Flagship Coordinator

CASLS is pleased to introduce Renée Marshall as the new Chinese Flagship Program Coordinator. Renée previously worked for CASLS as a curriculum consultant and coordinator for the Oregon International Internship Program.

“I’m looking forward to recruiting and supporting Flagship students this year, and I am excited to become a part of such an outstanding language and culture program,” Renée says of her role with the Flagship Program. “I have always believed in the importance of educating and encouraging a new generation of globally minded citizens.”

The Chinese Flagship Coordinator plays a large role in creating a welcoming environment where students can thrive. As the coordinator, Renée will lead student recruitment and student support initiatives. She will support students’ learning, prepare students for their yearlong study abroad program, and develop and implement recruitment strategies.

Renée earned her B.A., California teaching credential, and M.Ed. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned her M.A. in romance languages from the University of Oregon. Renée has experience teaching French, Spanish, and ESL. She enjoys working at CASLS and living in Eugene, Oregon. In her free time, she likes walking, hiking, learning languages, and traveling.

Renée will serve as the Chinese Flagship Coordinator for one year. Thereafter, the University of Oregon will conduct a full search for a coordinator who will serve the program throughout the next grant funding cycle.

The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program provides students with an opportunity to develop professional-level proficiency in Chinese while studying any academic major of their choice. The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program is an initiative funded by the National Security Education Program through the Institute of International Education.

Language Corner

Essential Questions and Language Learning

Source: FLTEACH Back to Quick Links

Your InterCom editor has had plenty of interesting conversations about essential questions as they are used in the Understanding by design approach. Pre-service teachers, practicing teachers, and teacher trainers all struggle with and celebrate the process of matching essential understandings with a skill-based content area. Recently an FLTEACH listserv user asked for advice in developing topical essential questions, and the responses have been informative and thought-provoking.

You can follow the discussion by starting with this query:

Then click on “Next” or “Previous” to see responses.

Project Seeks to Document Dialects of Kurdish

Source: The Dialects of Kurdish Back to Quick Links


The Dialects of Kurdish website and project are being managed by Yaron Matras of the University of Manchester. Its goal is to provide a description of some of the major differences between the dialects of Kurdish.

Currently the website’s resources include a few sound samples and links to other helpful resources, plus some general information about Kurdish.

The website is available at

Question: How Many Kanji Do I Need to Learn?

Source: Back to Quick Links


Someone posted this question to the Japanese Language forum: “How many kanji do I need to learn to read Japanese?” Read the answer here:

5 Hacks for Describing People, Places and Things in German Like a Native

Source: FluentU Back to Quick Links


Do your students need to move beyond “Es war gut,” “es is mir interessant,” and “wie schlecht”? Get some ideas to try out in this article:

Collection of Culture-Based Activities for Comparatives in Spanish

Source: Zambombazo Back to Quick Links


Here is a collection of comparatives activities for Spanish class featuring cultural resources, including movie trailers, a song, commercials and tweets. The accompanying printable activities aim to practice comparisons of inequality and equality in a culturally-rich context.

Available at

Photos from Peru and How You Can Use Them

Source: PBL in the TL Back to Quick Links


Visit this blog for a link to a gallery of 300 photos of Peru plus exciting ideas for how to use them in class:

500 Most Frequently Used Spanish Words

Source: La Vanguardia Back to Quick Links

Here is a Spanish-language article that explains how the 500 most frequently used words in Spanish were determined based on the Corpus de Referencia del Español Actual, and then lists the 500 words:

Sources of Captioned Videos

Source: Captions for Literacy Back to Quick Links

Captioned videos may improve literacy and make videos more accessible to English language learners. Here is an annotated list of sources of captioned videos:

Back to School Resources

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

Here are two bloggers’ collections of their back-to-school resources. First, Maris Hawkins: Second, Allison Wienhold:

Activity Idea: Drawful

Source: Teaching Games Back to Quick Links


Here is a simple game that encourages students’ written production and works on their interpersonal skills. Each student illustrates a sentence. Then, other students describe the illustrations. Finally, students try to guess which was the original sentence. See a full description of the activity in this blog post:

Developing Writing Skills Through Personal Journals: Part 2

Source: TESOL Back to Quick Links


Last week we posted about Part 1 of Elena Shvidko’s article about Developing Writing Skills Through Personal Journals. Read on for Part 2, posted this week, in which she continues to describe strategies for keeping a personal journal:

10 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

Source: ELT Experiences Back to Quick Links


QR codes are codes that people can scan with their mobile devices. Learn how to make then and how you can use them in a language classroom in this blog post:

Using Photos in Language Classrooms

Source: A Journey in TEFL Back to Quick Links


Here are two blog posts with ideas for using photos in an EFL classroom (but could be applied to any language classroom):

Reading Strategy: “Possible Sentences”

Source: Teach them English Back to Quick Links


Last week we noted that English teacher and blogger Adam Simpson is writing a long series about communicative reading strategies. Here is a more recent post about “possible sentences,” a pre-reading vocabulary strategy that activates prior knowledge about content area vocabulary and concepts:

Integrating Study Abroad Into School Curriculum and Culture

Source: Education Week Back to Quick Links


Integrating Study Abroad Into School Curriculum and Culture
by Matt Redman
July 22, 2015

Not all students study abroad, but every student should have the chance to learn the global competency skills that come with international experience. To make this possible, schools need to incorporate the lessons learned by those students who do study abroad into the curriculum, to share.

Students today learn in ways that are completely different from generations past. At the core of their learning are shared experiences—both their own and others'. Digital photography and video technology make it easy to incorporate firsthand accounts into curriculum. Teachers can incorporate photos of art, food, dancing, and more from other cultures into existing curricula. Or they can have students who study abroad share memories from their experience with the class.

Read the full article at

Professional Development

Midwest Association of Language Testers Conference

Source: MwALT Back to Quick Links


MwALT 2015
Writing Assessments and Assessing Writing: Research and Practice
October 3, 2015
University of Iowa

Early registration ends on August 20.

Visit the conference website at

East Coast Organization of Language Testers Annual Conference

Source: ECOLT Back to Quick Links


The East Coast Organization of Language Testers (ECOLT) is pleased to announce its fourteenth annual conference. Please save the date and plan on attending this informative, interactive conference.

ECOLT 2015
Friday, October 9, 2015
Georgetown University, Washington DC

Plenary speaker: Dr. Paula Winke, Michigan State University

Visit the conference website for more information at

National Association for Multicultural Education 25th Annual International Conference

Source: NAME Back to Quick Links


NAME’s 25th Annual International Conference
Past Achievements, Present Successes, Future Aspirations: 25 Years of NAME
Conference Dates: October 1-4, 2015
(pre-conference events on Sept. 30)
Conference Location: Sheraton New Orleans

Visit the conference website at

edCamp for World Language Educators in New Jersey

Source: edCampWL Back to Quick Links


The first edCamp for World Language Educators will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Piscataway High School located in Piscataway Township, New Jersey. Edcamp for World Languages is a part of the global edcamp "un-conference" movement which brings local educators together to pitch ideas to their colleagues and to participate in customized workshops.

Learn more about the edCamp at

Culture, Language, and Social Practice Conference

Source: University of Colorado Boulder Back to Quick Links


October 2-4, 2015
University of Colorado Boulder

The CLASP Program at the University of Colorado is an interdisciplinary forum for scholars with interrelated research interests in the sociocultural and sociopolitical analysis of language. The CLASP Conference, organized at all levels by graduate students in the program, is a friendly conference designed for students and faculty to showcase new work. The conference brings in an array of national and international scholars from diverse countries and subdisciplines within sociocultural linguistics, such as sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, bilingualism, literacy studies, ethnography of speaking, and language policy.

For more conference information go to

Call for Articles: Time in Language Learning and Teaching

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


Call for articles
Special Issue on 'Time in language learning and teaching' in the journal Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching
Call Deadline: 30-Oct-2015

Time has always been a part of second language acquisition and language learning and teaching research. Acquisition and learning and teaching are essentially about change, and change is about being in different states at different times. In this special issue, the editors take a critical stance on the nature of 'time' as a construct and reflect on how our perspectives on time inform our understandings of research and language learning and teaching processes. The editors are open to any suggestions for articles that engage fundamentally with the concept of time in language learning and teaching. Some of the particular areas we hope to reflect on in the special issue include:

- Chronological or linear versus experiential or nonlinear time
- Prediction and experimentation versus retrodiction and explanation
- Individual, cultural, and subjective notions of time
- Remembered past time, ongoing experienced time, future anticipated time
- Longitudinal research (on multiple timescales)
- Individual and cultural orientations to time
- Language learning and teaching as historically situated in time
- Linguistic notions of time

View the full call for papers at


Book: The L2 Acquisition of Spanish Subjects

Source: de Gruyter Back to Quick Links


The L2 Acquisition of Spanish Subjects: Multiple Perspectives
By Margaret Quesada
Published by de Gruyter

There is a long overdue need to address the sharp philosophical and methodological divide between formal/generative and functional/discourse perspectives in contemporary theoretical linguistics and L2 acquisition. Language structure in general, and the use of subjects in particular, is dependent upon multiple syntactic, lexico-semantic, and discourse-pragmatic factors. Therefore, the study of L2 acquisition must be equally multi-faceted.

This volume examines data from over twenty years of research in the L2 acquisition of Spanish subjects from several theoretical perspectives, including generative approaches, processing theory, discourse-pragmatics and sociolinguistic-variationist models. By so doing, the author seeks to fulfill two principal objectives: the first is to determine the many linguistic and extra-linguistic properties of Spanish subjects that constrain their acquisition and use; and the second is to establish common ground among researchers from varied theoretical persuasions in acquisition studies. The author argues throughout the volume that central to native speaker use and L2 acquisition are universal properties ranging from highly specific syntactic principles to more general characteristics of human cognition and a range of these properties is responsible for language acquisition. An examination of the diverse body of research that considers a wider scope of universal properties of language can thus bring us closer to a unified account of the L2 acquisition of Spanish subject expression.

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)