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: Intercultural Communicative Competence and Computer Assisted Language Learning

Marta Tecedor Cabrero is an assistant professor in the department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures at Texas Tech University. She specializes in the study of computer-based tools and second language learning, in particular with regards to the intersection of language, social interaction, and task-based instruction.

Being proficient in a foreign language means being able to communicate successfully with native speakers of that language. In addition to the traditionally recognized competences —grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic (Canale & Swain, 1980; Swain, 1983)— learners also need to have culture specific knowledge as well as cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills to interact appropriately and effectively in the target language, what has been called Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC).

A model for ICC

There are several conceptualizations of ICC, but the most widely used model today is Byram’s (1997), which identifies three components to interact successfully in intercultural situations: attitudes, knowledge, and skills.

According to this model, “attitudes” refer to awareness of one’s own cultural perspectives and openness and curiosity to learning about new beliefs, values, and perspectives on the world. “Knowledge,” on the other hand, refers to awareness and understanding of how individuals and groups interact in both one’s own and the interlocutor’s culture. Lastly, “skills” means the ability to discover and interpret cultural phenomena—including one’s own—and to operationalize all three components of the construct in a real time interaction.

As can be seen, one of the particularities of Byram’s model is that it requires an awareness and understanding of one’s own culture as a first step to communicating effectively in cross-cultural situations.

Approaches to the teaching of ICC

While most foreign language practitioners and theorist agree on the importance of providing ICC education, the question of how this education is best carried out is still debated. Overall, two models can distinguished: the Social Skills Approach and the Holistic Approach.

The Social Skills Approach assumes that the goal of instruction is to teach learners how to pass by natives of the target culture, that is, to teach skills for cultural assimilation leaving one’s own culture values and perspectives aside. In this approach, instruction includes a repertoire of cultural facts, formulaic expressions, and advice on how to behave appropriately in specific situations.

A more popular approach, the Holistic Approach, is based on the assumption that the goal of instruction is to develop positive attitudes towards others, promote empathy and reduce ethnocentric viewpoints. In this approach, instruction consists of providing learners with the necessary tools to analyze and interpret cultural phenomena.

The development of ICC

Current research on the development of Interactional Competence distinguishes three stages in the process of acquisition. First, intercultural awareness arises when the learner can notice and compare differences in the products, practices, and perspectives of two or more cultural group. Then, intercultural understanding comes about when the learner begins to attribute possible explanations to the target culture phenomena. Lastly, intercultural awareness is achieved once the learner can communicate in the target culture context successfully.

ICC and Computer Assisted Language Learning

The use of computer technology provides an essential contribution to the development of ICC in today’s foreign language curriculum. The Internet and so-called web 2.0 tools facilitate access to an array of authentic materials (e.g., newspapers, movies, T.V. programs, songs) through which knowledge of the target culture and its perspectives can be acquired and/or augmented. More importantly, many of these computer-mediated tools also afford the possibility of engaging in intercultural communication with native speakers of the target language.

These exchanges can follow several models—class-to-class telecollaboration, e-tandem exchanges, or one-to-one exchanges in one language only—and take place asynchronously, in media such as email, blogs, wikis, or synchronously via chat or videoconferencing platforms.

Current research in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has shown that telecollaborative interactions can be effective in helping learners acquire ICC. However, these exchanges are not without problems. The literature also documents numerous instances of communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and frustration between interlocutors due to, among other things, problems with the technology, netiquette, and/or undeveloped ICC (Kramsch, 2009). As with all instructional models, then, the role of the teacher is crucial to the success of internet-mediated ICC instruction. It has been suggested (O’Dowd, 2007) that the success of telecollaborative exchanges often depends on instructor’s familiarity with the technology, as well as his/her ability to act as model and coach.


Byram, M. (1997) Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters.

Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

O'Dowd, R. (2007). Evaluating the outcomes of online intercultural exchange. Munich: Langenscheidt.

Activity of the Week

  • Political Stances in the Media

    The activity featured below was created as part of a larger unit in which advanced secondary learners enrolled in a hybrid language course exploring contemporary issues associated with gender. The pragmatic and strategic focus of this activity is the use of persuasive language to influence a particular audience.

    Learning Objectives:

    Learners will be able to:

    • Discuss news clips related to current events
    • Identify and analyze persuasive language within media texts

    Modes: Interpretive Listening, Presentational Writing, Interpersonal Communication

    Materials Needed: Two news clips that reflect contemporary gender issues with opposing political stances such as “Becoming Lucy: Portland family embraces child’s gender identity” ( and “Oregon allowing 15-year-olds to get state-subsidized sex change operations” (, Details handout, Group handout


    1. Introduce learners to the idea that many news outlets deliver information with the goal of having their audiences interpret current events with a particular political slant. This trend is evident when considering the current hot-button topic of gender identity of minors.
    2. Explain to learners that they will be watching two news clips with opposing political stances regarding transgender minors. “Becoming Lucy: Portland family embraces child’s gender identity” and “Oregon allowing 15-year-olds to get state-subsidized sex change operations” are perfect videos to use.
    3. Give learners the Details handout. This handout explains that the learners will be watching the two videos multiple times. The first few times, learners will take notes on specific details listed by each video that impact whether or not the audience might agree with/believe the broadcast.
    4. After listing their notes, have learners answer the reflection questions at the end of the Details handout. These questions require them to consider how the videos impacted their perceptions of issues affecting transgender minors. They should write notes individually.
    5. Next, learners will work in groups (no more than four students apiece) to analyze persuasive language use within the videos by using the Group handout. Allow learners at least 30 minutes to complete this step. It is important that the learners come to an accord regarding the persuasive language that they find in the videos for every technique listed on the handout rather than dividing the work among themselves. Learners will all be responsible for understanding each technique and how it appeals to the pathos, logos, and ethos of individuals.
    6. Make sure to provide feedback to your learners regarding the correctness of their work in Step 5. In a hybrid course, this feedback can come from an email or web conferencing. Additionally, learner groups may compare answers using message board functions.


    • If you are teaching in a face-to-face context rather than in a hybrid or online format, you may wish to include direct instruction regarding persuasive language techniques as part of this activity.
    • A possible extension activity is to have learners conduct addition research regarding issues related to transgender minors and write a persuasive essay for submission to a local publication.
    • This activity can be adapted to lower proficiency levels through selection of text. It would be more appropriate, for example, for Novice and Intermediate learners to analyze the persuasive language used in print ads. This analysis would be more superficial than that which advanced learners were expected to engage in.
    • When discussing controversial issues in class, it is always a good idea to notify parents and administrators beforehand in order to minimize any potential issues that might develop. Additionally, educators should consider the maturity level of their learners when evaluating the appropriateness of the issues being discussed.

CASLS Spotlight: UO Chinese Flagship Student Awarded Boren Scholarship for Study Abroad

The Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) congratulates Ava Jamerson, a University of Oregon Chinese Flagship Program student, who was selected to receive the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship to study abroad. Ava was awarded $20,000 to support her Chinese Flagship Capstone year in Nanjing, China next year.

The Chinese Flagship Program, coordinated by CASLS, provides students with the opportunity to develop professional-level proficiency in Chinese while studying an academic major of their choice. The program emphasizes real-world linguistic and cultural skills so that graduates are prepared to use their Chinese language and skills in a professional environment.

Ava, currently a sophomore pursuing a social science degree, finds the Chinese Flagship Program very helpful. “It allows me to be surrounded by people who share the same language goals as I do. The students are all driven and serve as a support group through our journey in language learning.”

Ava will attend Nanjing University next year. “I’m looking forward to studying at a Chinese university alongside [native-speaking] Chinese students. It will be a really unique experience. I hope to learn a lot and gain many friends as well as gain some work experience,” Ava says.

David L. Boren Scholarships provide U.S. undergraduate students with funding to acquire language skills and experience in regions critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad programs. This year, Ava’s was one of 165 Boren Scholarships awarded from a field of 820 applications.

Ava plans to work for the government for at least one year to fulfill the scholarship’s service requirement. She is also considering attending graduate school to study international relations.

The Oregon Chinese Flagship Program is funded by The Language Flagship through the National Security Education Program.

Language Corner

Two Tool Kits and Breaking Down Silos

Source: Language Magazine Back to Quick Links


Breaking Down Silos, Joining Forces in Education
by Claudia Rinaldi and Caroline E. Parker
May 12, 2016

The newly released English Learner Tool Kit developed by the U.S. Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition provides guidance for teachers on how to help students … learn academic English. The guide includes a much-needed compendium of best practices, beginning with identifying who is an English learner. It outlines the staffing and supports English language programs should include, and provides guidance on how to help schools create inclusive environments that support language proficiency and academic performance. A full chapter is dedicated to the needs of students who are dually identified as both English learners and those with a disability.

This is an excellent resource, but it comes with a serious drawback. It omits a critical research-based framework that could help teachers design instruction for students like Samuel, English learners who require additional supports. The missing framework is Response to Intervention, otherwise known as RTI.

…A second toolkit focused on these RTI strategies is also available to assist teachers … who are looking for ways to help students…. It is the RTI-Based Specific Learning Disabilities Identification ToolKit developed by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). This toolkit provides tools for data-driven high quality general education instruction and intervention with frequent opportunity for progress monitoring in all areas of academic difficulty. It also provides clear, evidenced-based considerations for addressing the unique needs of English learners who are struggling academically. The tools can help teachers disentangle the critical challenge of whether a child’s difficulties are due to his or her language proficiency, to a lack of high quality instruction and intervention, or to a disability.

Read the full article and access these two toolkits at

Deconstructing Rubrics

Source: Language Coaching Back to Quick Links


In this blog post, teacher Amy Lenord explains how she breaks down her school districts language assessment rubrics into smaller chunks over the course of instruction so that students can narrow their focus at a given time and become familiar with the entire rubric over time:

Resources for Continuing with Chinese over the Summer

Source: Ignite Language Back to Quick Links


Here is a list of resources that students can use to keep up on their Chinese during the summer when they’re not in classes:

Telenovela Unit

Source: Maris Hawkins Back to Quick Links


Three weeks ago we shared Laura Sexton’s description of her telenovela unit ( Another teacher and blogger, Maris Hawkins, recently shared her own adaptation of Ms. Sexton’s unit, using the telenovela “De que te quiero te quiero.”

Read Ms. Hawkins’ description of the first three days at
More updates are to come; follow Ms. Hawkins’ blog at

Read Ms. Sexton’s latest blog post about how she prepared for her telenovela unit at

New Additions to the BYU Corpora

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links

Brigham Young University’s collection of corpora and corpus tools has a new corpus interface, plus two new corpora: the NOW corpus and the CORE corpus. Learn about the new interface and corpora at and access the BYU Corpus website at

More Posts about Learning Strategies

Source: Language Teacher Toolkit Back to Quick Links

Last week we wrote about a mini-series dealing with learning strategies on the Language Teacher Toolkit blog (

Here are the final two installments in the series.
Part 4:
Part 5:

Using GIFs for Language Teaching

Source: EFL Classroom 2.0 Back to Quick Links

Here is an article explaining what GIFs are (the short answer: moving images that play in a loop) and how they and other images can be used in language teaching. The short article includes links to several other resources.

Teaching English Learners the Features of Nonfiction Text

Source: TESOL Blog Back to Quick Links


Judie Haynes writes, “It is important that both ESL and classroom educators teach a unit on the features or conventions of nonfiction text to ELs as early as first grade.” Read her short article listing good sources for practice and some conventions of nonfiction that teachers can introduce to their English learners:

#Langchat Summary: Strategies for Group Work

Source: Calico Spanish Back to Quick Links


Last Thursday (May 12), #langchat participants talked about group work: when to use it and why, effective management strategies, differentiation, assessment, and specific challenges and solutions.

Read the summary here:

Learn more about #langchat, a weekly moderated Twitter discussion, at

Shortcomings of Grammar Instruction and Ways to Address Them

Source: The Language Gym Back to Quick Links


Read Gianfranco Conti’s list of nine shortcomings that he finds with direct grammar instruction in second language teaching and learning, and how he proposed to address them, in this blog post:

Professional Development

Call for Presentations: Virtual Conference for German Teachers

Source: Goethe-Institut Back to Quick Links


The Goethe-Institut and the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) present GETVICO the Virtual Conference for German Teachers in the US and Canada to take place on September 17, 2016.

GETVICO is a modern platform for German teachers to exchange ideas on methods and materials.

Make plans now to participate in this free online conference — connect from home with German teaching professionals across North America.

A wide range of presentations will be offered, focused on six thematic strands with an open call for abstracts. The conference will also offer three themed panels: “Continuing Education Programs”, “Studying in Germany”, and “The German American Partnership Program”.

The organizers are currently seeking speakers to present interesting examples from their classrooms or methodological and didactic approaches on any of the topics to be covered during the conference.

Abstracts are due by May 30, 2016.

For full details go to

Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Fall Conference

Source: ICTFL Back to Quick Links

Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Fall Conference 2016
October 20 - 22 • Tinley Park Convention Center

Registration is open. Visit the ICTFL website at

Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium

Source: SILS Back to Quick Links


The 2016 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium will take place on June 6 and 7 in Billings, Montana. The SILS is the oldest and largest gathering of Native Language stakeholders in North America. In its 23rd year SILS continues to be a premier venue, inspiring language revitalization, the advancement in research, the best practice strategies and more demonstrations in language development.

The 2016 SILS will feature key note addresses, research presentations, paper submissions, workshops, forums, and advocacy training. Among the many highlights is a special tour of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, and a tribute to the late Darryl Kipp who was so instrumental in advancing the Immersion School Movement in Indian Country.

For full details go to

Summer Professional Development Institutes from the Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education

Source: MABE Back to Quick Links


The Massachusetts Association for Bilingual Education will be offering the following three opportunities this August:

Teaching for Biliteracy, Strengthening Bridges Between Languages
August 9-11
In this three-day professional development institute, Cheryl Urow will introduce the powerful notion of the Bridge to teachers, administrators, and leadership teams from dual language programs. The Bridge is the instructional movement when teachers bring the two languages together, strategical guiding bilingual learners to transform academic content they have learned in one language to the other, engage in contrastive analysis, develop academic English and Spanish across content areas, read and write grade-level tests across the curriculum, and develop metalinguistic awareness. This third consecutive event is an opportunity for schools and districts to continue building their capacity by sending coaches and teachers who have not yet had this particular training experience.

Literacy Squared
August 10-12
Literacy Squared is a comprehensive model that has been designed to accelerate the development of biliteracy in Spanish-English emerging bilingual children attending elementary dual language schools. The Literacy Squared Instructional Model uses their theoretically informed pedagogy consisting of four components: oracy, writing, reading and metalinguistic awareness. This three-day professional development institute opportunity is recommended for teachers in established dual language programs. MABE continues expanding different professional development opportunities in bringing Literacy Squared to the Annual Summer Institute.

La Siembra New Program Planning Retreat
August 11-12
A retreat designed for new and emerging programs to facilitate planning, preparation, and design of new dual language programs.
  Dual Language 101 review
  Program self-assessment using the CAL Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education and Dual Language Program Planner: A Guide for Designing and Implementing Dual Language Programs to focus on Curriculum, scheduling, student leadership, effective teaching strategies and community involvement.
  Intensive planning for strengthening dual language program implementation
  Opportunities for support from peers in other schools
  Training and facilitation by veteran dual language teachers & administrators
Registration Fee includes registration for 6-8 members of a school/district team

2016 Professional Development Workshops at the American Indian Language Development Institute

Source: University of Arizona Back to Quick Links


Here are workshops of interest to indigenous language activists at the upcoming 2016 American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona:

Google Maps and Language Workshop (June 6-10)
Instructors: Ben Colombi, Ph.D.; Cynthia Annett, Ph.D.

Language Revitalization with No Speakers (June 10-11)
Instructors: Rolando Coto-Solano, M.A.

Claim your Sovereignty: Make a Language Plan (June 17-18)
Instructors: Sheilah Nicholas, Ph.D. (Hopi); Mary Carol Combs, Ph.D.

Arizona Tribal Language Teacher Certification Process Workshop (June 24)
Instructor: Ofelia Zepeda, Ph.D. (Tohono O'odham) with Beatrice Lee (San Carlos Apache Tribe Language Program Manager)

Using Games in Language Teaching (June 24-25)
Instructor: Louise St. Amour, M.A.

For more details and to enroll, go to

Arabic Workshop: Intertextuality Interpretation as Collaborative Activity

Source: University of Pennsylvania Back to Quick Links


Arabic Workshop: Intertextuality interpretation as Collaborative Activity
June 20, 2016
Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania

Current reading devices allow multiple readers to read the same text together, annotate the text, and share their annotations. The resulting practice is referred to as social reading. This new literacy practice violates many readers expectations of what it means to read based on a shared print culture (Baron, 2013). This presentation frames social reading in terms of a new participatory culture (Jenkins, 2009) in which interpretive practices long associated with the individual become a collaborative, group activity. The impact of social reading has stirred much academic controversy.

In this workshop, Arabic instructors will discuss how to expand the vocabulary of new learners and build a thread of reading based on natural visual interpretation. Students can produce intensively Arabic threads in a minimal time to practice the language. The workshop will show different models of using meta-reading at a variety of levels: Elementary and Intermediate; Some digital examples will be shared as well.

For full details about this workshop go to

Call for Proposals: The Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI)

Source: BILING Back to Quick Links

The 6th annual meeting of the Language and Social Interaction Working Group (LANSI) will take place at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, on October 7 and 8, 2016.

Call for proposals

LANSI brings together scholars and students working on naturally-occurring data within the broad area of language and social interaction. In keeping with the LANSI spirit of diversity and dialog, the conference organizers welcome abstracts from colleagues working on a variety of topics using discourse analytic approaches that include but are not limited to conversation analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and critical discourse analysis.

Deadline for electronic submission is May 31, 2016.
For additional information and to submit an abstract, please visit:

Reddington, E. [BILING] LANSI CFP Deadline May 31. BILING listserv (BILING@LISTSERV.UMD.EDU, 16 May 2016).


Book: Indigenous Language Revitalization in the Americas

Source: Routledge Back to Quick Links


Indigenous Language Revitalization in the Americas
Edited by Serafín M. Coronel-Molina, Teresa L. McCarty
Published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

Focusing on the Americas – home to 40 to 50 million Indigenous people – this book explores the history and current state of Indigenous language revitalization across this vast region. Complementary chapters on the USA and Canada, and Latin America and the Caribbean, offer a panoramic view while tracing nuanced trajectories of "top down" (official) and "bottom up" (grass roots) language planning and policy initiatives. Authored by leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, the book is organized around seven overarching themes: Policy and Politics; Processes of Language Shift and Revitalization; The Home-School-Community Interface; Local and Global Perspectives; Linguistic Human Rights; Revitalization Programs and Impacts; New Domains for Indigenous Languages

Visit the publisher’s website at

Soleado Newsletter Available Online

Source: DLeNM Back to Quick Links


The summer 2016 issue of Dual Language Education of New Mexico’s quarterly newsletter, Soleado, is available online. In this issue: an article from Elizabeth Howard and Shera Simpson from the La Paz Community School in Costa Rica focused on navigating team teaching across languages; articles written by practitioners and researchers addressing topics such as engaging with families of English Learners, shaping the future of content learning through Spanish, and a tale of perseverance from the perspective of a young immigrant student; and more.

Access Soleado at
Learn more about DLeNM at

New Expert Guides from the Canadian Modern Language Review

Source: LLTI Back to Quick Links

The Canadian Modern Language Review/ La Revue canadienne des langues vivantes introduces a new online feature – Expert Guides – where experts in the field of second language(L2) teaching and learning answer common questions aimed at helping teachers better understand their students. These bilingual expert guides are open access and free to read.

Why do some students learn additional languages faster than others?
Pourquoi certains élèves apprennent-ils plus vite que d’autres?
Philippa Bell, Université du Québec à Montréal

What is the best age to learn a second/foreign language?
Quel est l’âge le plus approprié pour apprendre une langue seconde ou étrangère?
Carmen Muñoz, University of Barcelona

UTP Journals. Expert Guides - New open access online feature from Canadian Modern Language Review. LLTI listserv (LLTI@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU, 16 May 2016).

Book: Cognitive Perspectives on Bilingualism

Source: de Gruyter Back to Quick Links


Cognitive Perspectives on Bilingualism
Edited by Monica Reif and Justyna A. Robinson
Published by de Gruyter Mouton

Only 15 years ago bilingualism was somewhat outside the main debates in cognitive linguistics. Cognitive linguistics had, to a large extent, taken for granted the fact that language is embodied in our experience. However, not much attention was given to questions of whether any changes to our language repertoire alter the way we perceive the world around us. A growing body of recent research suggests that one cannot understand the cognitive foundations of language without looking at bi- and multilingual speakers. In this vein, the present book aims to contribute to the existing debate of the relationship between language, culture and cognition by assessing differences and similarities between monolingual and bilingual language acquisition and use. In particular, it investigates the effect of conceptual-semantic and pragmatic properties of constructions on code choice and code switching, as well as the impact of bilingual and bicultural education on speakers’ cognitive development. This collective volume systematizes, reviews, and promotes a range of theoretical perspectives and research techniques that currently inform work across the disciplines of bilingualism and code switching.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Book: Starting Over – The Language Development in Internationally-Adopted Children

Source: John Benjamins Publishing Company Back to Quick Links


Starting Over – The Language Development in Internationally-Adopted Children
Edited by Fred Genesee and Audrey Delcenserie
Published by John Benjamins Publishing Company

Internationally-adopted children are a unique population of language learners. They discontinue acquisition of their birth language when they are adopted by families that speak other languages. Their unique language learning history raises important practical, clinical and theoretical issues. Practically speaking: what is the typical language learning trajectory of these children after adoption and what factors affect their language learning: age at adoption, country of origin, quality and nature of the pre-adoption learning environment, and others. They also raise important theoretical questions: How resilient is their socio-emotional, cognitive and language development following adoption? Does their language development resemble that of first or second language learners, or something else? Do they experience total attrition of their birth language? Are there neuro-cognitive traces of the birth language after adoption and what neuro-cognitive processes underlie acquisition and processing of the adopted language; are they the same as those of monolingual native speakers or those of early second language learners? And, how do we interpret differences, if any, between adopted and non-adoptive children? Chapters in this volume by leading researchers review research and provide insights on these issues.

Visit the publisher’s website at

Call for Contributions: Politics of Research in Language Education

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


This volume problematizes research in the field of language education as inherently loaded and political in nature. The book does not aim to tackle the interconnections between research and politics as such, as for example is the case in Kaplan and Levine’s (1997) edited collection. Rather, it intends to revisit language education research as essentially political in almost all its aspects and elements in themselves, including topics, methodologies, settings, participants, data, and analysis, as well as funding, publishing, and the teaching of research methodology. Potential chapters are invited addressing ontological, epistemological, sociocultural, political, economic, institutional, etc. aspects of language education research in terms of prevalent research topics, dominant methodologies, peer review and publication, funding, teaching research methodology, etc.

Potential contributors are invited to submit a 300-word proposal to the co-editors by June 15, 2016.

View the full call for contributions at

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