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.
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Stephanie Knight is the Language Technology Specialist at CASLS.
Assessment, when employed correctly, is a powerful and transformative tool that motivates learning. However, in its current, mainstream iteration, it is as dangerous as it is ubiquitous. Important classroom time is lost in the name of standardized testing, educators are bullied when results are below what is desired, and perhaps most importantly, the top-down dissemination of assessment results leaves learners with little autonomy in setting learning goals and few opportunities for developing metacognitive skills. In short, the current approach to assessment is oftentimes as limited as it is limiting.
This observation of the current approach proposes a singular, inherently complex question: How should assessment be used in the classroom? The answer, unsurprisingly, lies in the students. To tell students what test results reveal to be their deficiencies in knowledge is belittling and uninspiring. However, teaching students to self-assess and to develop awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses and strategies for addressing those strengths and weaknesses is empowering. In order to engage in this thinking, McMillan and Hearn (2008) propose a “combination of three components related in a cyclical, ongoing process: self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and identification and implementation of instructional correctives as needed” (p. 41). In other words, learners must be aware of how they think about, process, and use material, where they stand in relationship to certain benchmarks, and what they need to do in order to meet certain goals. Logic therefore holds that the current interpretation of the delineation between summative and formative assessment is much too stark; all summative assessments should involve each student’s voice in analyzing results to inform subsequent experiences within the classroom. In this sense, providing feedback to students after they are supposed to have learned something is a largely futile effort. Instead, students must receive feedback as they learn. Simply put, assessment must no longer be contextualized as a tool used to punish learning that hasn’t happened yet. It should instead be an integral part of the learning process, shifting students away from a performance (grade) focus and towards a mastery (learning) focus (McMillan and Hearn, 2008).
The classroom in which assessment is used as a tool to inspire progress is a much different classroom than that in which assessment punishes gaps in knowledge and understanding. The environment of the former is supportive, and all contributions made by learners are valued, regardless of their relative depth or superficiality (Clark, 2011). The implication of this placement of value then is that learners are celebrated for the knowledge that they possess due to its foundational implications for future growth rather than demeaned for what it is that they don’t know. Additionally, learners engage in metacognitive training, and expectations are scaffolded in such a way that learners see a clear pathway towards the appropriation and use of knowledge. The teacher plays the all-important role of guide, but it is the learners who propel themselves towards success through self-assessment and analysis.
Clark, I. (2011). Formative assessment and motivation: Theories and themes. Prime Research on Education (PRE), May 6th 2001, 27-36. Retrieved from http://www.primejournal.org/PRE/pdf/2011/may/Clark.pdf.
McMillan, J. and Hearn, J. (2008). Student Self-Assessment: The Key to Stronger Student Motivation and Higher Achievement. Educational Horizons, 87(1), 40-49. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ815370.pdf.
Stephanie Knight is the Language Technology Specialist at CASLS.
As this week’s Topic of the Week indicates, assessment is motivating to students when it is paired with self-evaluation. The activities showcased here are included in order to highlight some formative assessments and subsequent self-evaluation methods that correlate with improved levels of student motivation. These activities are appropriate for learners of all proficiency levels and are targeted towards developing a learner’s awareness of his or her interpretive language skills.
Modes: Interpersonal Communication, Presentational Speaking, Presentational Writing, Interpretive Reading, and Interpretive Listening
Learners will be able to:
Though these activities are appropriate for learners of all proficiency levels, teachers must exercise care when choosing appropriate texts. Additionally, teachers should consider the appropriate amount of target language use to imbed in the closing reflection of each activity.
One of the projects that we work on over at CASLS is the Games 2 Teach website, which serves as an online gathering of curricular resources and professional development opportunities involving the intersection of games, pragmatics and language learning. For teachers, keeping students motivated and engaged in the target language can be a very daunting challenge, but games have been proven to lend themselves very well to this end. Like any kind of authentic material, however, games can be effectively used to complement teaching a particular language feature, or they can be an unproductive distraction depending on several factors, such as the content of the game, the acceptance of the students, and the scaffolding of the teacher. Games 2 Teach strives to provide helpful resources for teachers so that they can make informed decisions about which games would be appropriate to use given their particular context. Some of these resources include:
In their most recent blog post, Games 2 Teach discussed some of the advantages and challenges of using Never Alone: Kisima Inŋitchuŋa, winner of the 2015 ‘Games for Change’ award. The game itself is essentially an interactive fable of the Iñupiat people, where players guide a young girl named Nuna and an arctic fox that becomes her companion on a journey through the Alaskan tundra. The blog post discusses several aspects of the game from various angles, but most importantly brings up some best practices for using this game in the language classroom. One point that stands out from the post is to be aware of cultural values and the inherent world view of the target culture. While Never Alone gives great insight into the ideology of the Iñupiat people, an instructor has to be mindful not to bundle everything taken from the game as a comprehensive depiction of the culture. Rather, the teacher should have the students compare and contrast the cultural values found in the game with their own. If you would like to read more about best practices using Never Alone: Kisima Inŋitchuŋa, click here. We would love to hear your input on your experience with using games to teach. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us on https://twitter.com/CASLS_nflrc, or like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/casls.nflrc.
Students in grades 3 – 12 are invited to take part in the German Information Center USA Annual Essay Contest. The purpose of the essay contest is to familiarize students with today’s Germany. In addition, the contest offers students and their teachers an opportunity to discuss traditional and modern German culture, language and society.
There will be three grade groupings for the contest: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. Winners will receive prizes and certificates; their essays will appear on this website (www.Germany.info), as well as the German Information Center USA’s newsletters.
All entries must be submitted electronically by April 15, 2016.
For full contest details go to http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/04__W__t__G/05/DZAufsatzwettbewerb-CompleteRules.html
Sra. Spanglish kills two birds with one stone in this blog post - she describes an Integrated Performance Assessment she designed for her Spanish students as part of a unit based around self-improvement plans, and she also describes how she makes the best use of available time during the implementation of the IPA.
Read her blog post here: http://www.pblinthetl.com/2016/01/ipa-time-management-tips.html
The new NCELA website has launched, featuring the English Learner Tool Kit developed to support state and local education agencies in meeting their obligations to English Learners (ELs).
Sign up for the bimonthly enewsletter, NCELA Nexus, designed to keep you up-to-date on new resources, upcoming events and provides links to opportunities for jobs, education, and funding related to education of ELs and the EL community.
Visit the new website at http://www.ncela.us/
This site is an effort to show Arabic as a living language by allowing users to search in both a Classical Arabic dictionary and a dialect dictionary at the same time. It includes an Egyptian Arabic dictionary, a Levantine Arabic dictionary, and a Classical Arabic dictionary, as well as search features that allow to search for Arabic roots and words.
Access this resource at http://www.livingarabic.com/
Here are four grants from the Japan Foundation with approaching deadlines:
Japanese Teaching Material Purchase Grant
This program is intended to assist educational institutions in the U.S. to purchase teaching materials (textbooks, audio-visual materials, dictionaries, digital learning software, teachers’ reference books, etc.) for their Japanese-language courses by providing financial support not exceeding $1,000.
Deadlines: March 15, 2016, and September 15, 2016
Japanese-language Education Project Grant
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles (hereafter “JFLA”) provides financial assistance for projects which promote Japanese language education on the national/state/regional levels, not exceeding $5,000. The project should benefit a wide range of educators/learners in the region or nationwide. JFLA accepts applications from educational institutions/organizations (Japanese language teachers’ associations, higher educational institutions, etc.) in the U.S., not from individuals.
Grant Amount: Up to $5,000 per project
Deadline: two months prior to project start date
Japanese-language Learners Event Grant
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles (hereafter "JFLA") provides financial support (up to $1,000) for Japanese-language related events on the national/state/regional levels (speech contests, quiz contests, or presentational events, etc.) that are intended to motivate a large number of Japanese-language learners in multiple schools featuring different educational levels (primary, secondary, collegiate levels, and adults) and promote Japanese-language education in the area. Closed events for a single school are not eligible.
Deadlines: March 1, 2016, and September 1, 2016
Salary Assistance Grant for Japanese-Language Courses
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles (hereafter “JFLA”) supports educational institutions or school districts (hereafter “applicant”) in the U.S. that are facing temporary financial difficulties in either (1) starting up a new Japanese program or (2) expanding or maintaining a current program. JFLA provides one-year grant support to supplement the instructor’s salary, not exceeding $30,000.
Deadline: April 10, 2016
Here is a compilation of activity ideas and resources for practicing time, days, and dates in French: http://www.thefrenchcorner.net/2016/01/activities-for-practicing-time-day-and.html
This project by Canadian Parents for French BC and Yukon collected stories of graduates of French programs in western Canada. On this website are 25 profiles of French learners talking about the importance of French in their adult lives: Olympians, journalists, business executives, teachers, and many others. The site also includes suggestions on how to use this project in your own classroom as well as five downloadable posters to decorate the classroom.
Access the profiles at http://bc-yk.cpf.ca/watn-english/
J. Sara Klatchko writes, “Knowing how to decipher an image—visual literacy—is a vitally important skill. It encourages young people to slow down and pay attention; to step back from the hyper skimming of the internet age, to look closely, to observe, to engage—skills that will set students down a path of deeper learning for a lifetime. Visual literacy is about understanding what we see—with our eyes, our minds, and our hearts.”
Read how she got young students “reading” photos in a photojournalism workshop and how you can apply her techniques in your classroom in this article: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/01/photo-detectives_connecting_the_cross-cultural_with_the_cross-curricular.html
Here is a zero-prep interpersonal activity idea that involves students asking and answering five questions in pairs: https://tekhnologic.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/star-interviews/
The National Research Summit on the Early Care and Education of Dual Language Learners took place in October 2014. It focused on new directions in research, policy and practice on the early care and education of dual language learners and produced a variety of publications, including briefs and commissioned papers.
Access the publications here: http://www.cal.org/resource-center/publications/national-research-summit-resources
18th MwALT conference
Policy and Practice in Language Testing and Assessment
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Proposal Submission Due Date: June 13, 2016
View the full call for papers at http://www.purdue.edu/oepp/MwALT2016/Papers.html
The Georgetown University Round Table (GURT) on Languages and Linguistics will take place March 11-13; for full details go to https://sites.google.com/site/gurt2016/.
The Assessment and Evaluation Language Resource Center (AELRC) will offer a pre-conference workshop on Thursday, March 10. The topic is “USEFUL EVALUATION IN LANGUAGE PROGRAMS.” Presenters are John Davis, Amy Kim, Todd McKay, Mina Niu, Young A Son, and Francesca Venezia. The workshop is introductory and relevant for language educators new to program evaluation and looking to learn practical techniques to implement in their courses and programs. Participants will receive a certificate of attendance after completing the workshop.
For more details about the workshop go to https://sites.google.com/site/gurt2016/program#workshop
Learn more about AELRC at http://aelrc.georgetown.edu/
2017 Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Performance + Proficiency = Possibilities
March 9 - 11, 2017
Proposals are due April 15, 2016.
View the call for proposals at http://csctfl.wildapricot.org/event-2134263
Conversations in Immersion/ Conversations en immersion
April 21-22, 2016
This mini-conference includes keynote addresses by leading immersion researchers, Tara Fortune and Mimi Met. In addition, conference attendees will get to participate in question/answer conversations with these same immersion researchers. The conference will have break-out sessions created by immersion teachers for immersion teachers showing best practices in their classrooms. On Friday there will be an information session panel discussion about the benefits of and roadblocks to immersion. The panel is designed for anyone who is interested in language immersion education and will also include a question/answer component. The panel will include Dr. Met, an immersion administrator, a Louisiana Department of Education representative, and a community member.
For full details and to register go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversations-in-immersion-conversations-en-immersion-tickets-19582977212
Promoting Spanish Language Development for Emergent Bilinguals
A Collaborative Symposium by the Center for Applied Linguistics and WIDA
April 14 - 15, 2016 in Washington, DC
Summer 2016 in Madison, WI
Join the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) and WIDA in Washington, DC or Madison, WI for an engaging and interactive two-day Symposium designed to promote Spanish language development in a variety of bilingual and dual language settings, including one-way and two-way 90-10 or 50-50 program models.
Participants must be proficient in Spanish and have a working knowledge of English to fully participate in all aspects of the Symposium.
For full details go to http://www.cal.org/solutions/cal-wida-events.html
The Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at The Ohio State University announce this year’s intensive Summer Seminars Abroad, a 17-day workshop in Spanish linguistics in Barranquilla, Colombia. The purpose of the program is to provide participants with an opportunity to analyze and practice the Spanish language in a natural linguistic and cultural context, and to receive graduate university credit for that experience.
The program, scheduled for July 11-28, 2016, is intended primarily for Spanish teachers. Application is open, however, to graduate students from Spanish and other disciplines who have a demonstrated ability in the use of the Spanish language and a need for this type of course. Both native and non-native speakers of Spanish are invited to apply.
For full details go to http://u.osu.edu/ssast/
Occupied Paris: Creating a Virtual Learning Experience
Monday, February 22, 2016 - 13:00
Presenter: Terri Nelson (California State University, San Bernardino)
Results from student testing of Paris Occupé, a presenter-created role-playing game set in Nazi-occupied Paris, show student progress in linguistic production, complex reasoning and empathy. In the game, students take on fictional identities to learn about Nazi-occupied Paris. The combination of historical information learned through the game, as well as more traditional course materials (fiction and nonfiction in a variety of media) plus the personal, emotional engagement with their RPG (role-playing game) character, helps students engage in higher level critical thinking skills and express more nuanced emotional, moral and philosophical stances in French while also developing a more comprehensive and realistic understanding of the complex time period. This presentation will demonstrate the game design features underlying the content delivery and linguistic scaffolding.
Learn more and register at http://www.coerll.utexas.edu/coerll/event/occupied-paris-creating-virtual-learning-experience
#Langchat is a group of language teachers who converse every Thursday evening via Twitter. On January 21, participants discussed collaboration and conflict resolution in language departments. What can you do when you and your colleagues use different methods and have different philosophies, yet must work together?
The consensus was that teachers can work together peacefully if they share a common destination, a focus on language use, and an agreement to respect each other.
Read a summary of the discussion here: http://calicospanish.com/make-conflict-resolution-a-new-years-resolution-reconcile-different-views-and-methods-in-your-world-language-department/
Innovation in Methodology and Practice in Language Learning: Experiences and Proposals for University Language Centres
Edited by Christopher Williams
This volume is composed of 24 papers originally presented as talks at the VIII National Conference of the Italian Association of University Language Centres (Associazione Italiana dei Centri Linguistici Universitari: AICLU), held at the University of Foggia, Italy, between 30 May and 1st June 2013.
The contributions fall into five sections: 1) keynote addresses from plenary speakers; 2) innovative challenges for language centres; 3) new developments in teaching language for specific purposes; 4) proposals and case studies in Content and Language Integrated Learning; and 5) the use of new technologies in language learning.
The volume represents the ‘state of the art’ in the field of language teaching and theory in university language centres not only in Italy, but also in other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean, and testifies to the rich variety of ways in which these centres are adapting and thriving in rapidly changing times.
Visit the publisher’s website at http://www.cambridgescholars.com/innovation-in-methodology-and-practice-in-language-learning
Interaction and Second Language Development: A Vygotskian perspective
By Rémi A. van Compernolle
Published by John Benjamins Publishing Company
This volume addresses the role of communicative interaction in driving various dimensions of second language development from the perspective of Vygotskian sociocultural psychology. Emphasizing the dialectical relationship between the external-social world and individual mental functioning, the chapters delve into a wide range of topics illustrating how the social and the individual are united in interaction. Themes include psychological and human mediation, joint action, negotiation for meaning, the role of first language use, embodied and nonverbal behaviors, and interactional competencies. Theoretical discussions and key concepts are reinforced and illustrated with detailed qualitative analyses of interaction in a variety of second language contexts. Each chapter also includes pedagogical recommendations. Supplemental materials or ‘data sessions’ that engage the readers with the themes presented in the book through sample analytic exercises are included, while videos have been made available online.
Visit the publisher’s website at https://benjamins.com/catalog/lllt.44
Lexical Issues in L2 Writing
Edited by Päivi Pietilä, Katalin Doró, and Renata Pípalová
Published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Research into lexical issues has been one of the most rapidly growing areas of second language acquisition studies in recent years, and understandably so: the importance of vocabulary can hardly be denied. This volume concentrates on vocabulary in written language, mostly in academic settings. The target language (L2) in the studies reported in the volume is English, except in one study on the lexical competence of multilingual learners of French. Each chapter constitutes an independent unit, but together the studies reported in them give the reader a varied and extensive picture of lexical issues in L2 writing. The authors approach their topics from different perspectives and use diverse research methods, adding to the multifaceted nature of the volume. The book will be of interest to researchers, educators and students of second language acquisition and applied linguistics.
Visit the publisher’s website at http://www.cambridgescholars.com/lexical-issues-in-l2-writing
Volume 20 Number 1 of the online journal Language Learning & Technology is available at http://llt.msu.edu/issues/february2016/index.html. This is a special issue on Digital Literacies and Language Learning
Articles in this issue:
Becoming Little Scientists: Technologically-Enhanced Project-Based Language Learning
Melinda Dooly and Randall Sadler
Effects of Web-Based Collaborative Writing on Individual L2 Writing Development
Dawn Bikowski and Ramyadarshanie Vithanage
Type and Amount of Input-Based Practice in CALI: The Revelations of a Triangulated Research Design
Language Learning Through Social Networks: Perceptions and Reality
Chin-Hsi Lin, Mark Warschauer, and Robert Blake
The Effects of Item Preview on Video-Based Multiple-Choice Listening Assessments
Dennis Koyama, Angela Sun, and Gary J. Ockey
Twitter-Based EFL Pronunciation Instruction
José Antonio Mompean and Jonás Fouz-González
Learning to Express Gratitude in Mandarin Chinese Through Web-Based Instruction
Concordancers and Dictionaries as Problem-Solving Tools for ESL Academic Writing
Plus announcements, columns, and reviews.
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