Community Language Learning


group-of-studentsBackground of the Community Language Learning

As the Chomskyan linguistic revolution turned linguists and language teachers away from the audiolingual method which focused on surface structure and on rote practice of scientifically produced patterns to a new era where the deep structure is paramount,  psychologists began to see the fundamental importance of the effective domain. So innovative methods of language teaching were developed during the 70s to redress the shortcomings of the audiolingual method. One of these methods came to be known as Community Language Learning.

CLL differs from other methods by which languages are taught. It’s based on an approach  modeled on counseling techniques that alleviate anxiety, threat and the personal and language problems a person encounters in the learning of foreign languages. The method was originally developed by Charles Curran who was inspired by Carl Rogers view of education.  in In this “Counseling-learning” model of education, learners in a classroom are seen as a group rather than as a class, a group in dire need of certain therapy and counseling . The social dynamics  occurring in the group are very important and a number of conditions are needed for learning to take place.

  • Members should interact in an interpersonal relationship.
  • Students and teachers work together to facilitate learning by
    • valuing each other,
    • lowering the defense that prevent interpersonal interaction
    • reducing anxiety
    • and constituting a supportive community.
  • Teachers role is that of a true counselor.
    • They are not perceived as a threat
    • They don’t impose boundaries and limits
    • They concentrate on the learners needs

Stages in Community Language Learning (CLL)

Learners  go through 5 stages in their learning process.

  1. “Birth” stage: feeling of security and belonging are established. Dependence on the knower as learners have little or no idea of the target language.
  2. “Self stage”: As the learner’s ability improve and starts to gt an idea of how language works, they achieve a measure of independence from the parent although they still seek help from the knower.
  3. “Separate existence”: Learners can speak independently.
  4. “Adolescence”: The learners are independent although they are aware of gaps in their knowledge and feel  secure enough to take criticism and being corrected.
  5. “Independence”: Complete independence from the knower. The child becomes an adult and becomes the knower.

Community Language Learning Class

Here is what you may find in a CLL class:

  • Students determine content.
  • Clients/learners establish an interpersonal relationship and trust in their native language.
  • They sit in a circle with the teacher/counselor on the outside of the circle.
  • Learners start a conversation.
  • Learners speak in their native language.
  • The counselor provides translations and explanations.
  • Learners repeat the utterances as accurately as they can.
  • The conversation goes on and my be taped for later use.

Advantages of CLL

  • CLL is an attempt to overcome the threatening affective factors in EFL and ESL.
  • The councelor allow the learners to determine type of coversation and to analyze the language inductively
  • The student centered nature of the method can provide extrincic motivation and capitalize on intinsic motivation.


  • The counselor/teacher can become too non directive. Students often need directions .
  • The method relies completely on inductive learning. It is worthwhile  noting that deductive learning is also a viable strategy of learning.
  • Translation is an intricate  and difficult task. The success of the method relies largely on the translation expertise of the counselor.

H. Douglas Brown (1987). Principles of language learning and teaching. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall

Richards, Jack C. and Theodore S. Rodgers (1986). Approaches and methods in language teaching: A description and analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Other sources: Wikipedia – CLL


8 thoughts on “Community Language Learning”

  1. Hi,
    Devised by Charles Curran in the early 1970’s Community Language Learning was based on Carl Rogers ‘Person centered counseling Approach’. The counselor offers empathy while giving advice and support for issues and difficulties, using the core conditions which are invaluable in alot of therapies.

    Thank you
    Dawn Pugh

  2. Bulgarian psychotherapist Georgyi Lozanov used similar methods. he was successful. In 30 day his students could read and speak fluently but without constant practice these knowledges vanished as quickly as they appeared.

  3. Pingback: The Silent Way | My English Pages

  4. Pingback: Alternative Language Teaching Methods – English as a Foreign Language

  5. I like your website: its articles on different teaching methodologies helps me understand them better.

    It would be even better if it wouldn’t force the browser to move down when opening up a new page here: it’s quite annoying, plus it’s something that I’ve only seen here. Getting rid of this feature would make a good site even better.

  6. Well done, It’s informative and explanatory. Hope I can get your helping hand to my endeavor of publishing a paper on CLL. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.