Community language learning

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Community language learning (CLL) is a language-teaching approach[1] in which students work together to develop what aspects of a language they would like to learn. It is based on the Counselling-approach in which the teacher acts as a counselor and a paraphraser, while the learner is seen as a client and collaborator.

The CLL emphasizes the sense of community in the learning group, encourages interaction as a vehicle for learning, and considers as a priority the students' feelings and the recognition of struggles in language acquisition.

There is no syllabus or textbook to follow, and it is the students themselves who determine the content of the lesson by means of meaningful conversations in which they discuss real messages. Notably, it incorporates translation, transcription, and recording techniques.


The CLL approach was developed by Charles Arthur Curran, a Jesuit priest,[2] professor of psychology at Loyola University Chicago, and counseling specialist.[3] This method refers to two roles: that of the know-er (teacher) and student (learner). Also the method draws on the counseling metaphor and refers to these respective roles as a counselor and a client. According to Curran, a counselor helps a client understand his or her own problems better by 'capturing the essence of the clients concern ...[and] relating [the client's] affect to cognition...'; in effect, understanding the client and responding in a detached yet considerate manner.

To restate, the counselor blends what the client feels and what he is learning in order to make the experience a meaningful one. Often, this supportive role requires greater energy expenditure than an 'average' teacher.[4]


Natural approach[edit]

The foreign language learner's tasks, according to CLL are (1) to apprehend the sound system of the language (2) assign fundamental meanings to individual lexical units and (3) construct a basic grammar.

In these three steps, the CLL resembles the natural approach to language teaching in which a learner is not expected to speak until he has achieved some basic level of comprehension.[5]

There are 5 stages of development in this method.

  1. “Birth” stage: feeling of security and belonging are established.
  2. As the learners' ability improve, they achieve a measure of independence from the parent.
  3. Learners can speak independently.
  4. The learners are secure enough to take criticism and being corrected.
  5. The child becomes an adult and becomes the know-er.

Online communities[edit]

These types of communities have recently arisen with the explosion of educational resources for language learning on the Web. A new wave of Community Learning Languages have come into place with internet growth and the boom of social networking technologies. These online CLLs are social network services such as English, baby! and LiveMocha that take advantage of the Web 2.0 concept of information sharing and collaboration tools, for which users can help other users to learn languages by direct communication or mutual correction of proposed exercises.


There are certain barriers that will be encountered when learning a new language in a multilingual community. These barriers occur in language learning in a multicultural community because native and nonnative groups will think, act, and write in different ways based on each of their own cultural norms. Research shows that students in multicultural environments communicate less with those not familiar with their culture. Long-term problems can include foreign speakers using their own terms of expression combined into the language native to the area, which often makes for awkward sentences to a native speaker. Native students also tend to develop an exclusive attitude toward the nonnative speaker because they feel threatened when they do not understand the foreign language. Short-term problems include native students often lacking in-depth knowledge of the nonnative cultures, which makes them more likely to be unwilling to communicate with the foreign speakers. Because these foreign students grew up and were educated in a totally different cultural environment, their ideologies, identities and logic that form at an early age lead to different ways of expressing ideas both in written and spoken form. They will have to modify and redefine their original identities when they enter a multicultural environment (Shen, 459). This is no easy task. Consequently, low levels of social involvement and enculturation will occur for both native and nonnative speakers in the community.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richards, Jack C. (1986:113) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
  2. ^ American Journal of Psychotherapy (1955). COTF BIO. p. 123.
  3. ^ Richards, Jack C. (1986:113) Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
  4. ^ Richards, Jack C (1986:138)
  5. ^ Krashen, S.D., and Terrel, T.D. (1983). The Natural Approach: Language acquisition in the Classroom.