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: Meaningful Interaction with Media for Teaching and Learning Languages

By Julie Sykes, CASLS Director

The use of media to facilitate the teaching and learning of culture and language has long been lauded as an effective and powerful context for exploring culture in foreign language classrooms. The ability to add context to discussions, model various types of cultural behavior, and facilitate meaningful discussion all offer a great deal to the classroom experience.

Emerging digital technologies enhance language teachers’ ability to engage with media and offer learners an interactive experience in which they not only consume the media, but also work with it to discover new elements and create their own perceptions of what they see. Regardless of the format you choose, creating an opportunity by which learners interact with the media they consume further enhances the experience. This week’s Activity of the Week offers one example of the interactive use of media in which learners interact with the content and meaning of the video they work with. Other possibilities include:

  • Picture sorting: Gives learners pictures from the media clip they are watching and ask them to put the pictures in order, sort according to themes or learning targets, and/or redraw them to reflect a different cultural stance.
  • Pause strategically: As you watch the media together, pause in strategic locations and ask the learners to do an activity in which they engage with one another around the content. Alternatively, if you are asking them to watch the clip at home, give them 5-8 timestamps and have them try to figure out why you chose the timestamps you did.
  • Mashups: Ask learners to create a mashup of various media clips to reflect a cultural message or insight from multiple things they have watched.
  • Online Quiz Session: Use an online quiz application or poll generator to engage students through polling and questions.

Regardless of the format you choose, enabling learners to engage with media, in addition to consuming it, can be a powerful experience. 

Activity of the Week

  • Describing Myself and Others: A Multimodal Approach to Exploring the Complexities of Language

    This activity was inspired by Mia Lin’s Interactive Video presentation at the University of Oregon in July of 2017 and is designed for Novice Mid and Novice High secondary learners of English. The purpose of this activity is to empower learners to analyze and practice appropriate language in a variety of contexts.

    Learning Objectives:  Students will be able to…

    • Talk about themselves, friends, and family with someone after first meeting him/her.
    • Talk about themselves, friends, and family with someone after having known him/her for a long time.

    Mode(s): Spoken Interpersonal Communication, Interpretive Listening, Presentational Writing

    Materials Needed: Video 1 (, Video 2 (, Handout


    1. Set the Stage: Explain to learners that their goal for the day is to learn how to describe themselves, friends, and family in two distinct contexts: when meeting someone for the first time and after having known someone for a while. At this point, the learners may want to self-evaluate how well they think they are able to engage in the goal.
    2. Observe: Show learners two different clips from the movie Mean Girls. The first video showcases descriptions of self, friends, and family upon meeting someone for the first time. The second video showcases the same descriptions among people who have known each other for some time. As they watch, have learners record their observations on Part 1 of the handout.
    3. Analyze: Ask learners to discuss their observations as a class. Some questions to scaffold the discussion could include:          
    • What adjectives were used in the first video? What adjectives were used in the second video? How do you know which are appropriate?            
    • How does the situational context (meeting someone for the first time versus talking with someone you have known for a while) change how words are received from context to context?           
    • What verbal and non-verbal cues let you know that there was a misunderstanding in the conversation? That something that was said was inappropriate?

    4.   Practice/Extend: Allow learners to brainstorm their own descriptions of self, friends, and family on Part 2 of the handout. Then, provide 7-10 minutes to practice the conversations in each context. The best approach for these practice sessions at this proficiency level is to give learners one minute per conversation and have them switch partners after the minute is up.

    5.   Reflect: Have learners reflect on their success by filling out Part 3 of the handout.


    • Mean Girls uses colloquialisms that teachers may deem inappropriate for young (elementary or middle) learners. As such, the activity was written so that it could be implemented with other video sources.
    • While this activity does not involve direct grammar instruction, inductive reasoning would be easy to incorporate as part of Step 3 if teachers wish to analyze language accuracy as it relates to adjective agreement and word choice with their students.
    • This activity intentionally incorporates the goal-setting and reflection processes embedded with LinguaFolio Online, an autonomous online language learning portfolio for learners. Check out LinguaFolio Online and its associate mobile app, LFOtoGo, at

CASLS Spotlight: Join Us at ACTFL 2017

Each year, CASLS and its sister Language Resource Centers attend the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Annual Convention. This year’s convention will be held November 16-19 in Nashville, Tennesee.

The ACTFL Annual Convention provides a unique opportunity for language educators to meet colleagues from across the country, build their professional learning network, and learn from each other as well as national experts.

All of the Language Resource Centers will be sharing one large pavilion in booth 1333 by the food court. We hope you’ll stop by to find free or low-cost teaching materials, professional development opportunities, assessment and evaluation services, and more from the LRCs!

Throughout the conference, many of the LRCs will be offering hands-on demonstrations to showcase digital technologies for language learning at the booth as well.

We look forward to connecting with many of you at ACTFL and hearing about your experiences, which we often use to shape new products and resources.

Language Corner

Step Into German Award of Excellence Contest

Source: Step Into German Back to Quick Links


The Award of Excellence is an annual contest dating back to 1991. Every year a short video portrays some aspect of German life and students complete a quiz on the video. The grand prize is an all-expenses paid, three-week chaperoned trip to Germany including flight, a German language course, meals and accommodations. 

The theme for 2017 is Future Cities: Transatlantic Exchange for Change. 

Go to to participate.

Four Ways to Give ELL Students Feedback on Their Writing

Source: British Council Back to Quick Links


In this article, Larry Ferlazzo describes four ways to give English learners feedback on their writing: peer review, improvement rubrics and self-assessment, concept attainment, and pointing. Read the article at

National French Week

Source: AATF Back to Quick Links


The American Association of Teachers of French is pleased to announce its organization of the seventeenth annual National French Week. This week-long celebration of all things French will take place in schools and communities and AATF chapters across the U.S. from November 1-7, 2017. 

Learn how you and your students can celebrate at

Insights from a Visit to the Singapore American School

Source: path to proficiency Back to Quick Links


Holly Morse had the opportunity to visit the Singapore American School and observe its world language program in May of this year. Read her reflective post on what she saw there and how she and her colleagues hope to challenge themselves in their own classrooms to apply what they learned from their visit:

Sticking with a Proficiency-Based Approach

Source: path to proficiency Back to Quick Links


Colleen Lee-Hayes writes, “I’m introducing proficiency this year as a key part of my students’ learning. … I know that when making changes sometimes the hardest part is sticking to the new direction..and here’s how I’m keeping my eye on this new path.” Read on for ideas to keep yourself and your students on the “path to proficiency”:

New Japanese Learning Resources

Source: Tofugu Back to Quick Links

Every month Tofugu reviews Japanese learning resources. Read reviews of LingoDeer, Bunpro, Final Fantasy XIV, Tinycards for Android, Learn Kana the Fun Way!, and KLC Graded Reading Set 5 at

Article about the Ainu

Source: Smithsonian Back to Quick Links


Here is a detailed article about the Ainu people in Japan: their history and their current status and experiences:

Halloween Vocabulary in German

Source: Transparent Language Back to Quick Links

Here is a short list of Halloween vocabulary in German:

Slideshow: Berlin's Festival of Lights

Source: Deutsche Welle Back to Quick Links

The theme of the 13th Festival of Lights in Berlin is “Creating Tomorrow.” See a slideshow of some different displays at

Écriture Inclusive

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

English doesn’t use grammatical gender, and French does. New French learners often have questions about how grammatical gender relates to social norms, gender equality, and perception through a gender-aware language filter. French teachers may want to follow the current discussion in France about écriture inclusive, a set of new usage norms meant to avoid using masculine forms when talking about humanity in general. Read about the issue in English here:

Read and listen to some different views on the issue in French here:

The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols

Source: ThoughtCo. Back to Quick Links


French teachers may want to discuss punctuation with their students, but may not know the French vocabulary for this very specific domain. Here is a list of French words for different punctuation marks as well as a short discussion of differences between punctuation in English and French:

Les Impressionnistes: Unit for Intermediate Low French Students

Source: Madame's Musings Back to Quick Links


Lisa Shepard is sharing another French unit. She writes, “As regular readers of this blog know, I teach a unit on French Impressionism each year in my French 3 class. I have once again modified this unit to better meet the needs of my students.” Access the latest version at

English-Spanish False Friends Dictionary

Source: False Friends Dictionary Back to Quick Links


Explore false cognates, similar shared borrowing, and more “false friends” between Spanish and English at this comprehensive website, which includes an online dictionary, a false friend detector where you can paste in your own text, and videos about attested errors caused by “false friends”:

All Saints Day and All Souls Day Resources for Spanish

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

All Saints Day and All Souls Day are coming up at the end of this month. Here are some resources for your Spanish classes:

An annotated collection of resources on the Mis Clases Locas website:

Ideas for learning about the día de los difuntos celebration in Bolivia, from the Fun for Spanish Teachers website:

Learn about an Ecuadorean sweet bread called las guaguas on the Mundo de Pepita website:

Here are some craft ideas from Spanish Playground:

Here are some activity ideas from ProfeDeELE:

October 24th Is United Nations Day

Source: Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… Back to Quick Links

Tomorrow, October 24, is United Nations Day. Larry Ferlazzo curates a collection of online resources that are accessible to English learners for learning about United Nations Day, available here:

Students Create and Organize Their Own Vocabulary Lists

Source: Various Back to Quick Links

At CASLS we believe in structures that support learning autonomy. Here are two recent blog posts from teachers who have their students create and organize their own vocabulary lists. 

Kara Parker of Creative Language Class describes how she has her students of all levels create their own graphic organizers with vocabulary here:

Cécile Lainé describes how she has her AP students create their own organized tools for learning vocabulary in each unit here:

Teaching Colors in the Target Language

Source: Teaching in the Target Language Back to Quick Links


Here is a nice collection of activities for a variety of age levels that you can use to introduce and reinforce color vocabulary:

Elementary Children Using the Target Language

Source: Proficiency from the Start Back to Quick Links


Elementary and middle school Spanish teacher Valerie describes her process of asking children what target language phrases they need to do everyday class activities and making visual reminders of that language in this short post:

A Treasure Trove of Videos for Language Teaching

Source: COERLL Back to Quick Links


Christian Hilchey describes how to find and use vlogs (video logs) for language teaching in this short article:

Using GooseChase in Language Class

Source: GooseChase Back to Quick Links

GooseChase is an app that allows you or your students to organize a scavenger hunt that they use their mobile devices to complete. Read some reviews of this tool and ideas for using it in language classrooms here:,, and GooseChase is available at

Alphabet Activities

Source: Teaching in the Target Language Back to Quick Links


Here are several activities you can do when your students are learning the alphabet in the target language:

Article: Saving Salish

Source: The Spokesman-Review Back to Quick Links

Here is an in-depth article about a Kalispel language immersion school in Cusick, Washington, along with related Salish language revitalization efforts:

Research Review: Written Feedback – Does it Work?

Source: ELT Research Bites Back to Quick Links


In the first part of a two-part series, Anthony Schmidt examines the lack of evidence to prove that corrective feedback for grammar is effective by discussing a 2004 article by D.R. Ferris, “The ‘grammar correction’ debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here?(and what do we do in the meantime…?).” 

Read the summary at

Strengthening Heritage Speakers’ Oral Proficiency with RICH

Source: Language Magazine Back to Quick Links


Ligia Martinez writes about a strategy she uses to keep heritage speakers using the target language and “engaged in conversations rich in high academic vocabulary.” She proposes a RICH strategy: Reformatting Information into Communication at a High level:

“The premise is simple. First, authentic texts on a variety of subjects are found in the sections for extended reading in state-of-the-art Spanish textbooks. … Given an excerpt from a text, the instructor reformats the material and creates a guide for a conversation to be spoken by students in pairs. The information from the reading is placed alternatively in two columns, one for student A and one for student B. Directives are added, along with sentence frames, interjections, connecting phrases, and specific vocabulary, in order to ensure a free-flowing, logical conversation. … In essence, learners utilize the writings to produce oral discourse.

“Once the guide has been prepared and students have had an opportunity to read it, the instructor models. With student engagement, the teacher practices the activity while emphasizing the importance of attentive listening. Students then role play with the guide in hand and exchange roles once finished. Learners practice expressing both parts of the conversation while listening to key vocabulary. … It is also imperative to point out that students are not required to say their parts word for word; it is not a script. They may adapt the dialogue as long as they include the critical information.

“After about three practice runs, my experience has been that students learn the key vocabulary and use the terms without coaxing. Following active participation with this tool, students have suggested the opportunity to write their own guides for future interactions, instead of depending on the instructor. The guide is flexible and has the potential to meet a variety of language goals. Apart from the new expressions introduced, the RICH strategy may be used to simultaneously present grammar structures, for example. Thus, syntax objectives are introduced in context. The RICH strategy strengthens oral language proficiency by providing opportunities to converse about a variety of topics while using advanced-level expressions.”

Read the full article at

Children with a Language Other than English at Home Underrepresented in Preschools

Source: EdSource Back to Quick Links


Children whose parents speak a language other than English less likely to enroll in preschool
by Ashley Hopkinson
October 18, 2017

Young children with at least one parent who speaks a language other than English at home are less likely to be enrolled in quality early childhood programs, although it is most critical for those students, according to a national report that includes a 30-state analysis on how different policies affect dual language learners.

“Dual language learners especially stand to benefit from participation in high-quality pre-K. However, dual language learners in California are enrolling in pre-K programs at lower rates than their non-dual language learner peers, which may contribute to lags in kindergarten readiness for this population,” according to the California section of the report released Thursday by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization in Washington D.C.

Read the full article at

Access the full report from the Migration Policy Institute at

Professional Development

Call for Chapters: Volume on Intercultural Communicative Competence through Telecollaboration and Foreign Language Learning

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


Chapter contributions are being solicited for an online double-blind peer reviewed publication on Learning beyond Culture, Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), Telecollaboration, and Foreign Language (FL) Learning. These Reports from the Field can include descriptions and results of classroom action-research, best practices, and lessons for instructional design. 

The team of peer reviewers will be composed of the contributing authors and the editors. Please note that, when you submit a chapter proposal, you assume responsibility to participate in the peer review process as a member of this multicompetent team from December 2017 through February 2018. 

The deadline to submit chapter proposals is October 31, 2017.

View the full call for chapters at

Consortium on Useful Assessment in Language and Humanities Education Annual Meeting and Conference

Source: CUALHE 2017 Back to Quick Links


Consortium on Useful Assessment in Language and Humanities Education
Annual Meeting and Conference
October 28-29, 2017
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia

The Consortium on Useful Assessment in Language and Humanities Education (CUALHE) is an inter-institutional collaborative effort that aims to share and to enhance useful assessment practices developed by college language and humanities programs and to develop a cadre of scholars who can serve as assessment experts/facilitators. The aim of the Consortium is to foster a culture of reflective teaching in higher education and to support research into student learning, thereby making useful assessment a regular part of the academic modus operandi.

Visit the conference website at

Call for Papers: 7th Annual ucLADINO Judeo-Spanish Symposium

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


7th Annual ucLADINO Judeo-Spanish Symposium: New Directions, Old Roots 
March 14-15, 2018
Los Angeles, California

Now in its seventh consecutive year, the ucLADINO annual symposium is the country’s foremost space for students, scholars, and community members to connect and share original research from a variety of linguistic, literary, cultural, sociological, anthropological, and historical fields related to Judeo-Spanish and Sephardic Jewry. 

This year the symposium will engage with the various types of “new directions” that the study of Judeo-Spanish has taken, as well as explore the new pathways the language and culture have taken over its varied history. As for “old roots,” the symposium will also feature discussion on the formative, little known, or under-analyzed historical and linguistic features of Judeo-Spanish. By juxtaposing new directions with “old roots,” the symposium aims to hone in on the creative tension that has resulted in the dialogue between the old and the new that characterizes much of the history and study of Judeo-Spanish. This theme also hopes to encourage presentations on topics and themes previously marginal in Judeo-Spanish and Sephardic studies. 

The deadline for abstracts is December 31, 2017.

View the full call for papers at

Call for Proposals: 2018 Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture

Source: Virginia International University Back to Quick Links


The School of Education at Virginia International University invites your proposals for the 2018 Conference on Language, Learning, and Culture, “Making Research Matter: Motivated Inquiry for Actionable Insights” to be held April 6-7, 2018 on VIU’s campus in Fairfax, Virginia. 

Proposals for paper and poster presentations, practice-oriented sessions, workshops, colloquia, and panel discussions are invited in areas related to the conference theme. The organizers especially seek examples of projects in which the investigators considered the users and uses of their research from the very beginning and made decisions accordingly—that is, projects in which questions regarding the purposes, potential applications, agents, and/or beneficiaries of the research played a prominent role in their conceptualization, design, and analysis, as well as in the dissemination and use of the findings. These might range from action-research projects conducted by individual teachers in their classrooms to larger-scale funded endeavors where collaborative teams of investigators had an eye toward wider public engagement and policy impacts.

The abstract submission deadline is December 4, 2017.

View the full call for proposals at

NYS TESOL 47th Annual Conference

Source: NYS TESOL Back to Quick Links

NYS TESOL 47th Annual Conference
Nov 3 and 4, 2017- Hilton Long Island/Huntington Melville, New York
Empathy in Action: Social Pedagogy and Public Advocacy for English Language Learners

Visit the conference website at

Online Chinese Teaching Forum and Workshop

Source: Michigan State University Back to Quick Links


The Confucius Institute at Michigan State University (CI-MSU) is pleased to announce that the third Online Chinese Teaching Forum & Workshop (OCTFW) will be held at Michigan State University on October 27th-28th, 2017. With the success of the 1st & 2nd OCTFW organized by the CI-MSU in 2015 and 2016, the 3rd OCTFW aims at continually promoting collaboration among educators in K-16 online Chinese teaching and learning field.

The theme of the forum is New Trends in Online Chinese Teaching. Dr. Kui Xie at Ohio State University, Dr. Jun Da at Middle Tennessee State University and Dr. Shijuan Liu at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will provide keynote speeches.

For more details go to

National Association of Self-Instructional Language Programs Conference

Source: NASILP Back to Quick Links


The 43rd National Association of Self-Instructional Language Programs Conference will be hosted by Samford University, Birmingham Alabama on November 3rd-4th, 2017.

The conference covers topics such as program design, budgeting, implementation of new language offerings, student orientation, the role of the Tutor and responsibilities of the Coordinator and Examiner.

The Association's annual meeting will feature presentations reflecting current research on issues pertinent to academically-based self-accessed programs for LCTLs. The meeting provides access to nationally-recognized scholars in the fields of pedagogy, design, materials development, instructional technologies, program administration, and establishes channels through which the special concerns and expertise of NASILP's institutional members are shared.

Visit the conference website at


October 2017 Issue of Reading in a Foreign Language

Source: NFLRC Back to Quick Links

The October 2017 issue (Volume 29, Number 2) of the electronic journal Reading in a Foreign Language (RFL) is now online and can be read at

This issue of RFL has four regular articles. In the first, Roghayeh Bahmani and Mohammad Taghi Farvardin report on their study of the effects of different text difficulty levels on foreign language reading anxiety and reading comprehension of elementary EFL learners. Next, Eric Hagley discusses the changes in the general reading habits of EFL university engineering students in Japan, their attitudes toward the assessment method and how their goals developed during an extensive reading program.

In the third article, Trevor A. Holster, J. W. Lake and William R. Pellowe present the results of their investigation of EFL Japanese university students' perception of the difficulty of graded readers. Masaya Hosoda, in the fourth article, reports on her study of the relationship between EFL Japanese university readers’ memory for causal relations and their learning outcomes from an expository text.

There are two book reviews in this issue. Eman Elturki reviews Making Connections Intro: Skills and Strategies for Academic Reading. This is followed by Cliff Kast’s review of Literature and Language Learning in the EFL Classroom. 

This issue concludes with the valuable October feature, Readings on L2 reading: Publications in other venues 2016-2017. This is edited by Shenika Harris, Carolina Bernales, David Balmaceda, Wei-Chieh Fang, Huan Liu, and Haley Dolosic.

RFL is a scholarly, refereed journal published on the World Wide Web by the University of Hawai`i, with Richard R. Day and Cindy Brantmeier as the co-editors, Thom Hudson as associate editor, and Xiangying Jiang, West Virginia University, as the reviews editor.

The journal is sponsored by the National Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC), the University of Hawai‘i College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, and the University of Hawai‘i Department of Second Language Studies. The journal is a fully-refereed journal with an editorial board of scholars in the field of foreign and second language reading. There is no subscription fee to readers of the journal. It is published twice a year, in April and October. Detailed information about Reading in a Foreign Language can be found at

Book: New Ways in Teaching with Music

Source: TESOL Press Back to Quick Links


New Ways in Teaching with Music
Edited by Jean L. Arnold and Emily Herrick
Published by TESOL Press

New Ways in Teaching with Music shows how music can be incorporated into your lessons a way to decrease anxiety, increase motivation and retention, and invigorate both students and teachers. This book is a collection of adaptable lessons that use music as a catalyst for effective, engaging, and enjoyable language learning.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Manual de fonética y fonología españolas

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Manual de fonética y fonología españolas
By J. Halvor Clegg and Willis C. Fails
Published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

Written entirely in Spanish, Manual de fonética y fonología españolas has a comprehensive scope that touches on all aspects of phonetics and phonology—including acoustic and auditory phonetics, phonotactics, and suprasegmentals, which most often remain untreated.

The book provides students with a detailed and accurate yet accessible introduction to Spanish phonetics and phonology. It includes introductory chapters which place these disciplines within the general field of linguistics and which emphasize the role of sounds and their representation in human communication.

Manual de fonética y fonología españolas is a comprehensive introduction designed to be clear and accessible to advanced students of Spanish to help them understand how to improve their pronunciation. 

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Growing Old with Two Languages

Source: John Benjamins Publishing Company Back to Quick Links


Growing Old with Two Languages: Effects of Bilingualism on Cognitive Aging
Edited by Ellen Bialystok and Margot D. Sullivan
Published by the John Benjamins Publishing Company

This collection brings together two areas of research that are currently receiving great attention in both scientific and public spheres: cognitive aging and bilingualism. With ongoing media focus on the aging population and the need for activities to forestall cognitive decline, experiences that appear effective in maintaining functioning are of great interest. One such experience is lifelong bilingualism. Moreover, research into the cognitive effects of bilingualism has increased dramatically in the past decade, making it an exciting area of study. This volume combines these issues and presents the most recent research and thinking into the effects of bilingualism on cognitive decline in aging. The contributors are all leading scholars in their field. The result is a state-of-the art collection on the effect of bilingualism on cognition in older populations for both healthy aging and aging with dementia. The papers will be of interest to researchers, students, and health professionals.

Visit the publisher’s website at

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