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.


September Theme: Writing

We hope that your school year is getting off to a great start! Our InterCom theme for September is writing. We start off this month with a reminder from Greg Kessler that writing happens in many contexts, including with social media. In coming weeks we'll learn more about the writing process, peer review, a tool for improving writing in certain genres, and correction and feedback.

Topic of the Week: Social Media and Writing in a Second Language

Greg Kessler is the Director of the Language Resource Center in the College of Arts & Sciences and Associate Professor of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in the Department of Linguistics at Ohio University where he teaches CALL practice and research courses. His research addresses the convergence of language, digital environments, language learning and associated human behavior.

Second language writing instruction has typically focused upon a very limited repertoire of academically oriented formats. However, we are likely to interact with text across a variety of tasks and contexts. Some have claimed that we are witnessing an increase in quantity and quality of writing solely due to the popularity of social media among students (Purcell, Buchanan, & Friedrich, 2013). With social media and the participatory culture it promotes, there are numerous new ways to think about writing activities, tasks, materials and contexts (Kessler, 2013).

The potential for collaborative, cooperative and other social activities in second language writing is vast. It is also an area that is largely just beginning to be explored. However, a few recent studies across a range of writing activities and contexts provide some suggestions for pedagogical practice. Among these, researchers have explored collaborative writing practices across a variety of tools, including blogs (Bloch, 2007; Sun & Chang, 2012), wikis (Elola & Oskoz, 2010; Kessler, 2009), web-based word processing (Kessler, Bikowski & Boggs, 2012) and text chat (Sauro & Smith, 2010). In recognition of the potential for collaborative practices in L2 writing, Storch (2005) has argued that we may need a "reconceptualization of classroom teaching" (p. 169). These studies reveal many shared characteristics. A synthesis of the literature reveals that collaborative writing practices can result in increased motivation and potential for engagement. There are also reports of increased awareness of issues related to form as well as insights into audience, purpose and tone which are often focal points of L2 writing instruction. However, it may be the potential to increase authenticity in classroom practice that is most compelling. Authenticity in language use, tasks, contexts, and materials can greatly enhance students' language learning experiences (Reinders & Hubbard, 2013).

Writing within today's social media landscape offers many new authentic opportunities. These new practices are commonplace in our daily lives and offer great potential for our classrooms as well. We are all quite accustomed to the participatory social dialogue of facebook status updates and microblog tweets. We also have many opportunities to engage with one another through location-based crowd sourced data aggregated contexts such as Foursquare, Google Maps, and Yelp. The writing (and reading) that takes place in these contexts can be coordinated around a variety of purposes. Students could provide actual or simulated reviews in any language. They could reply to reviews or create a synthesis of reviews. By relying on the engagement potential and authenticity of these practices, we can create interesting and meaningful experiences for students around varied emerging social writing practices. The opportunity to engage students in collaborative activities that take place in (or closely mimic) authentic social media language practices can range from a simple task of creating a single sentence meme to designing entire social mapping projects such as those supported by smap ( Teachers, and students, are only limited by their own creativity.


Bloch, J. (2007). Abdullah's blogging: A generation 1.5 student enters the blogosphere. Language Learning & Technology, 11, 128-141.

Elola, I., & Oskoz, A. (2010). Collaborative writing: Fostering foreign language and writing conventions development. Language Learning & Technology, 14(3), 51–71.

Kessler, G. (2009). Student initiated attention to form in wiki based collaborative writing. Language Learning & Technology, 13(1), 79-95.

Kessler, G., Bikowski, D., & Boggs, J. (2012). Collaborative writing among second language learners in academic web-based projects. Language Learning & Technology, 16(1), 91-109.

Kessler, G. (2013). Collaborative language learning in co-constructed participatory culture. CALICO Journal, 30(3), 307-32

Purcell, K., Buchanan, J., Friedrich, L. (2013). The impact of digital tools on student writing and how writing is taught in schools [Internet & American Lift Project]. Washington, DC: PewResearch Center. Retrieved from

Reinders, H., & Hubbard, P. (2013). CALL and learner autonomy: Affordances and constraints. In M. Thomas, H. Reinders, and M. Warschauer (Eds.), Contemporary computer assisted language learning. London: Continuum Books.

Sauro, S., & Smith, B. (2010). Investigating L2 performance in text chat. Applied Linguistics, 31(4), 554-577. doi: 10.1093/applin/amq007

Storch, N. (2005). Collaborative writing: Product, process, and students' reflections. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 153–173. doi: 10.1016/j.jslw.2005.05.002

Sun, Y., & Chang, Y. (2012). Blogging to learn: Becoming EFL academic writers through collaborative dialogues. Language Learning & Technology, 16(1), 43–61.

Activity of the Week

  • Writing a Review

    Learning to write an online review can be helpful and meaningful for learners utilizing resources in the target country.

    Objective: To analyze and produce an appropriate review for a restaurant, movie, or product.

    Resources: Writing a Review resource sheet


    1. Pre-writing: Work with learners to highlight key features of an online review. They should investigate models online and compare features of different types of reviews.
    2. Writing: Have learners select one restaurant, movie, or product to review and write a review with the characteristics they identified in the pre-writing phase.
    3. Peer Review: Have learners work in pairs to give feedback on their partner's review. Emphasis should be placed on content and organization and not micro-level grammar points.
    4. Revise: Learners revise review based on peer and expert feedback.
    5. Post-writing: Have learners share their reviews and select the best restaurant, movie, and product from the reviews.

CASLS Spotlight: CASLS Staff Reconnect with Mission and Plan for Future by Mandy Gettler, CASLS Associate Director

CASLS staff gather each year to reconnect with the center's mission – improving world language teaching and learning – and to set goals and strategic priorities for the upcoming year. The retreat used a hot air balloon theme as a metaphor for the importance of connecting ideas and vision with action and results.

During the first portion of this year's annual meeting, staff articulated their vision for the center's direction and shared their hopes for the future. The second half of the retreat included discussions on how to define results for each project and put concrete action plans in place.

The strategic directions for CASLS include work focused around four cornerstone areas.

  • Place-based Learning: The place-based learning cornerstone provides a research-based model for the use of place-based experiences in language teaching and learning contexts. Projects within this cornerstone area increase students' access to language interaction outside of the classroom.
  • Articulation and Collaboration: The articulation and collaboration cornerstone seeks to enhance collaboration between two- and four-year higher education institutions and articulate language program outcomes between Lane Community College and the University of Oregon, both located in Eugene, Oregon.
  • Innovative Assessment: The innovative assessment cornerstone expands available assessment instruments and provides resources their effective integration into the classroom.
  • Professional Development: The professional development cornerstone provides educators with practical, research-based information and resources about language instruction.

Language Corner

Unit for French 3 Class: Education in France

Source: Madame's Musings
Language: French Back to Quick Links

Here is a free content-based unit about education in France, intended for a French 3 class:

It is a good model for using the ACTFL standards and integrated performance assessments.

Florida Officials Will Fight Feds Over Testing of English-Language Learners

Source: Education Week
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


Florida Officials Will Fight Feds Over Testing of English-Language Learners
by Lesli A. Maxwell
August 27, 2014

Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined state education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Miami-Dade County schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho today in calling for the U.S. Department of Education to back down from its decision that the state must include test results for its newest English-language learners in its accountability system.

In a joint news conference in Miami Wednesday afternoon, the trio of Florida officials said they would formally request that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan rescind his department's denial of a key part of Florida's application to extend its waiver from portions of the No Child Left Behind Act so that English-learners who have fewer than two years in U.S. schools would not have their test scores factored into school grades. Under federal law, English-learners who've been in U.S. schools for one year are to be tested in reading and math and have their results factored into state accountability systems.

Read the full article at

Culture SLO Now Available from the Ohio Department of Education

Source: OFLA
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

From the OFLA listserv:

We have posted ODE samples of a “targeted” SLO for interculturality that is aligned to our Cultures Standard. There is a sample SLO for Novice (level 1 and 2) and Intermediate (level 3 and 4). Included with this SLO is an explanation of how you could create a pre/post-assessment for interculturality. Please feel free to forward this email to your colleagues who are not on the OFLA listserv.

Just a reminder about SLOs:

1. The first SLO must be an “overarching” SLO that shows student growth aligned with our state standards, in the 3 modes and 4 skills (interpretive reading and listening; interpretive speaking and/or writing; presentational speaking and/or writing).

2. The second SLO for the same level could be a targeted SLO (e.g., for culture; for a specific skill or mode; for a sub-group of students who have specific needs in the language)

3. Elementary and FLEX programs that meet infrequently should refer to the FLES/FLEX SLO sample that we have.

Please email or contact me with any questions.

Kathy Shelton
World Languages Education Program Specialist
Office of Curriculum and Assessment
25 South Front Street | Columbus, Ohio 43215-4183
(614) 995-4840 | (877) 644-6338 |

OFLA listserv. [OFLA] ODE Culture SLO now available. (OFLA@LISTSERV.KENT.EDU, 22 Aug 2014).

AATG Colorado/Wyoming German Retreat/Immersion Weekend for Teachers

Source: AATG
Language: German Back to Quick Links


Colorado and Wyoming AATG members are invited for a weekend (Friday-Saturday) retreat on September 12th-13th at the Cathedral Ridge in Woodland Park, Colorado. Please come and participate in a weekend of fun, learning or just to have a great start of the school year. New teachers and teachers in training are welcome to attend. This is an immersion opportunity and participants must be willing to communicate in German during the weekend!

The theme will be “Ein Wochenende in Berlin” presented by Siggi Piwek.

For more details go to

Experiential Learning and the Foreign Language Classroom

Source: Education Week
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


Benefits of Learning by Doing and Doing While Learning: Manos a la Obra
by Kaitlin Thomas
August 23, 2014

“Perhaps of all the challenges unique to the teaching of foreign language and culture, most enigmatic is trying to identify ways to make grammar and vocabulary relevant to the daily life and real-world experiences of teenagers and adults. It's incredible to realize how universal this challenge is (from Pashtu to Spanish and everything in between), though such solidarity certainly does not make it easier to bridge the gap between language in practice and language in life, particularly when making what is often a secondary pursuit one of primary interest.

“… In a rural area of the country, where there is an untapped interest and immense need, it was possible to bridge the gap between classroom and life. As a dual-role professor and Latino community liaison, fully aware of where both sides were falling short, it wasn't enough to merely simulate real-world scenarios in the classroom, replicating situations that were readily available right out our door. No, the answer instead lay in bringing the classroom out into the world so that students could quite literally dirty their hands while pushing themselves to new linguistic frontiers and cultural understandings that could not be reached in a classroom alone.”

Read the full article at

An Overview of French Newspapers

Source: Transparent Language
Language: French Back to Quick Links

Here is the first part of a series on Transparent Language’s French Language Blog about using French newspapers to improve your French. This first part deals with the sections of a French newspaper. It is available at

Five Ideas for the First Week Back to School in French

Source: eTools for Language Teachers
Language: French Back to Quick Links

French teacher Sylvia Duckworth shares some ideas for the first week back to school in this blog post:

French Image Site

Source: Picto
Language: French Back to Quick Links

Here is a French-language website where you and your students can search for free images to use in creating teaching and learning materials:

Idea for Reinforcing Double Object Pronouns: Who Threw It at Him?

Source: Bryan Kandel TPRS
Language: Spanish Back to Quick Links

Here is a simple activity that gives you and your students a context for using a lot of double object pronouns in a meaningful way:

Idea: Personal Writing Based on The Times’s Sunday Routine Series

Source: The Learning Network
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links

Teacher Chris Popp shares his lesson plan for using the New York Times’ Sunday Routine series from the Metro section to build students’ media literacy here:

Back to School Ideas for English Language Learners

Source: Laura Stevens
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links

Here is a collection of links to resources for the beginning of the school year with English language learners:

Fifteen Warm-ups for a Language Classroom

Source: Maris Hawkins
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

September 8th Is International Literacy Day

Source: Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


UNESCO proclaimed September 8 to be National Literacy Day in 1965. Here are some online resources from teacher Larry Ferlazzo to help you and your students celebrate:

Icebreakers with Post-It Notes

Source: Busy Teacher
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

It’s a new school year for many of us, and we’re looking for ways that we can get to know our students and our students can get to know each other. Here are seven icebreaker ideas, all using Post-It notes:

First Day of School Activities

Language: ANY Back to Quick Links

Recently an FLTEACH listserv user asked,

“I am starting at a new school and getting those first day jitters! I am looking for an engaging activity in the TL to set the tone for the year on the first day after I go over procedures and expectations. Or any advice on how to set up those first couple days. I will be teaching Spanish 4. Any experiences you've had or advice you can give is greatly appreciated.”

Other listserv users have responded with lots of ideas for activities to get to know your students, make sure classroom procedures are covered, set the tone for lots of language learning in the year, and more.

Go to to read the original query, and then click on “Next” by “By Topic” to see the responses.

Article: More Research on Precisely What Works for English Language Learners

Source: EdCentral
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


More Research On Precisely What Works for English Language Learners
by Conor Williams
August 28, 2014

“[A] report [’The Correlates of Academic Performance for English Language Learner Students in a New England District’] explores how a large, urban Connecticut district is educating ELL students—and checks for correlation between particular language support models (such as English as a Second Language, transitional bilingual programs, and others) and student achievement. Because of the structure of the study, they made no causal claims, but found a variety of interesting correlations.

“For instance, the various language support models in use had effects that varied by grade span. The researchers first explored how these various models might be linked to performance on Connecticut’s English proficiency assessment (the exam used to measure whether ELLs are ready to exit language services). Dual language bilingual education programs “was associated with higher English proficiency scores than the average” for ELLs in K–1st grade and 6th–8th grade. Meanwhile, ELLs in transitional bilingual education or English as a Second Language programs underperformed the average English proficiency scores to varying degrees at nearly all grade spans (K–8th grade). ELLs whose parents refused language support services performed above the average for English proficiency scores at all grade levels except 6th–8th grade.”

Read the full article at
The report is available at

Changes Considered To Boost Gains for Arizona’s 69,000 English Language Learners

Source: Arizona School Boards Association
Language: ESL/Bilingual Back to Quick Links


Changes Considered To Boost Gains for AZ’s 69K English Language Learners
by Lisa Irish
August 20, 2014

As more English Language Learners are reclassified as proficient and more schools earn letter-grade points for that, Arizona education leaders are considering changes to increase students’ academic growth and boost high school graduation rates, essential parts of state’s school accountability system.

One pressing concern is how the four-hour block of intensive English instruction in reading, writing, grammar and conversation affects high school ELL students.

Read the full article at

Article: Can Late Learners Really Have a Perfect Accent?

Source: Language Magazine
Language: ANY Back to Quick Links


“The Americans tells the story of two Soviet KGB spies living undercover, as an all-American couple. In flashbacks to their late adolescent years in the USSR, we can hear them speak English with heavy Russian accents. Yet the Jenningses, the perfect couple, are somehow able to switch to flawless American English in the U.S. Could the language training they received as young adults in the USSR and the years spent in America be enough to rid them of any traces of a Russian accent, which does not slip out even in emotional moments? Common observation will probably tell you otherwise. Think of your own acquaintances, friends, or family. You might know someone who was immersed in another language from childhood and now can pass for a native. However, you probably also know many people who started learning a language at a later stage and never mastered a foreign accent, even after years spent in the target country. Is there any science behind this observation?”

Read the full article at

Professional Development

WIDA 2014 National Conference

Source: WIDA
Content Area: Assessment, Curriculum Design, Methods, Policy/Issues/Advocacy, Standards Back to Quick Links


The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium (WIDA) National Conference will take place October 23-25 in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme is “Creating Language-Rich Academic Learning Environments.”

Visit the conference website to learn more:

Learn more about WIDA at

Assessment Education and Resources Network (LEARN) Conference

Source: ILR-INFO
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

Assessment LEARN Workshop
September 16-19, 2014
National 4-H Youth Conference Center
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Theme: Applications and Implications of the ILR Skill Level Descriptions

The Foreign Language Program Office (FLPO) of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the National Cryptologic School are pleased to announce that the Assessment Education and Resources Network (LEARN) will be held Tuesday 16 September through Friday 19 September at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Registration for the Assessment LEARN Workshop in now open. Please use the following URL to register:

The Assessment LEARN Workshop is open to instructors, course developers, testing professionals and other language professionals of all languages from any USG-affiliated institution. No venders will be allowed to participate.

Funding for any associated travel expenses will be the responsibility of each attendee’s organization.

[ILR-INFO] Conferences: Assessment LEARN (16-19 September, DC). ILR-INFO Discussion Group. (ILR-INFO@FSILIST2.FSI.STATE.GOV, 26 Aug 2014).

Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Fall Conference

Source: ICTFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


The ICTFL Board and Conference Co-Chairs, Leslie Rathunde and Ellen Ericson, are excitedly planning for this year's 2014 Fall Conference. The theme "A Gallery of Strategies: Touch up your Professional Portrait" has been intentionally designed to help Illinois language educators prepare for the new PERA Teacher Evaluation system and to add new strategies that effectively move language learners towards greater language proficiency. Plan to attend October 23-25, 2014 at the Tinley Park Conference Center, Tinley Park, IL.

For more information go to

2014 Annual Conference of Chinese Language Teachers Association of Texas

Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


2014 Annual Conference of Chinese Language Teachers Association of Texas
September 27th, Saturday, 2014
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Theme: Practical and Effective Use of Technology in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language

Visit the conference website to learn more and to register:

Blog Series: Building a Professional Development Hub for your School

Source: LangWitches
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links


Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano writes,

“If education for the ‘now’ and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  •  to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  •  to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  •  to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  •  to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  •  to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network capabilities”
  •  to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  •  to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school as a platform will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.”

Read the full series about professional development hubs:

 Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 1: Why? (
 Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 2: Characteristics (
 Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 3: Challenges (
 Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 4: Steps (

Scholarship Opportunities for ACTFL Members

Source: ACTFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

Nine scholarships for language study will be offered to ACTFL members in 2015. Study in Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Cairo, Chile, Nice or online, and enrich your summer by learning a language! The deadline to apply is March 31, 2015. One can apply for multiple scholarships.

For more information go to
If you are not a member of the American Council on Foreign Language Teaching you can learn more about becoming a member at

Register Now for ACTFL Pre-Convention Workshops

Source: ACTFL
Content Area: ANY Back to Quick Links

Each year on the day prior to the opening of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Annual Convention, several excellent pre-convention workshops are offered for those looking to participate in a more in-depth professional development opportunity on the most current and cutting-edge topics. Come a day early and enhance your ACTFL Convention experience by attending one of these pre-convention workshops, held Thursday, November 20 from 9 AM to 4:30 PM in San Antonio, Texas. Get the advance rate of $150 each by October 29.

For more information go to
For more information on the ACTFL Convention, which will take place November 21-23, go to

Seeking Applications to Organize Study Abroad for High School Students – NSLI-Y

Content Area: Culture, Curriculum Design, Heritage, Methods, Policy/Issues/Advocacy, Specific Purpose Back to Quick Links

American Councils for International Education is seeking non-profit organizations and educational institutions to implement short-term overseas language programs for high school and recently-graduated students (ages 15-18) as part of the U.S. Department of State's National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Program. Funding is available for Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Russian, and Turkish summer language immersion programs.

Sub-grantee applicants may apply for either local or partner sub-grants. Local sub-grantees will recruit and select their own program participants. Partner sub-grantees will be assigned a group of students recruited and selected through the national NSLI-Y application and selection process administered by American Councils.

Proposals are due no later than October 16, 2014, 4:30 PM Eastern Time. Please visit or for more information about NSLI-Y. You can view the RFP at Inform NSLI-Y staff at if you are interested in receiving updates or announcements related to the sub-grant competition.

Call for Papers: Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition

Source: University of Maryland
Content Area: Learning Science Back to Quick Links


The 6th bi-annual Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition - North America will be held at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD on February 19-21, 2015.

GALANA provides an outlet for cutting edge work on language acquisition, relating results in first and second language acquisition to detailed hypotheses about developing grammatical representations, the mechanisms by which these representations are acquired, and the information processing mechanisms through which these representations are engaged in real time language use by first and second language learners.

For the General Session, abstracts are invited for original, unpublished generative research in all acquisition subfields: L1 acquisition, L2 acquisition, bilingualism, creoles and pidgins, and language disorders.

For the Special Session, the organizers invite abstract submissions for presentations that address the question of how a given grammatical formalism or set of grammatical principles helps to solve particular learnability problems in language acquisition.


View the full call for papers at


Call for Papers: Special Issue on Technology-mediated Task-based English Language Learning

Source: LINGUIST List Back to Quick Links


The Journal of Teaching English with Technology (TEwT) is seeking contributions for its special issue on Technology-mediated task-based English language learning, edited by Anna Franca Plastina, University of Calabria, Italy, to appear in April 2015.

The potential synergy between task-based language learning (TBLL) and the use of technology presents a number of challenges for current English teachers. Nevertheless, "anyone concerned with second language teaching and learning in the 21st century needs to grasp the nature of the unique technology-mediated tasks learners can engage in for language acquisition" (Chapelle, 2001:2).

Call Deadline: 15-Nov-2014

View the full call for papers at

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