April 18, 2024

Community Language Learning (CLL)

by Mateusz Wiącek

Learning a new language can be challenging, but with the right approach, it can also be rewarding. Community Language Learning (CLL) is one such approach that focuses on creating a supportive environment for language learners. In this article, we’ll explore what CLL is all about and how it can benefit language learners.

What is Community Language Learning?

Community Language Learning (CLL) is a teaching method derived from psychological counseling theories. In CLL, the teacher takes on the role of a supportive counselor, and learners work together in a group or community to learn a new language. The method emphasizes personal feelings and reactions to language learning, allowing learners to express themselves in their native language.

Theoretical Background of CLL

CLL is deeply rooted in humanistic psychology, particularly the work of Charles Curran and his student La Forge. Instead of traditional teaching methods where the teacher imparts knowledge, CLL sees the teacher as a counselor who guides learners through the language learning process. This approach aims to foster empathy, trust, and a sense of security among learners, ultimately reducing anxiety and maximizing learning potential.

Developmental Theory in CLL

CLL views language learning as a series of developmental stages, similar to a person’s growth from infancy to adulthood. Learners progress from dependency on the teacher to autonomy, with each stage involving linguistic, cognitive, and emotional tasks. Collaboration among learners is crucial, as they support each other through these stages and share their feelings and frustrations.

Practice of CLL

In CLL, learners form small groups known as ‘communities’ where they engage in language learning activities. The teacher, often referred to as the ‘Knower,’ provides guidance and support as learners interact in the target language. Audio recordings produced by learners themselves are used as learning materials, promoting spontaneity and addressing learners’ specific needs and interests.

Limitations of CLL

While CLL offers many benefits, it also has limitations. It’s primarily suitable for adult learners in small groups who share a common language. Some learners may not thrive in the sharing environment promoted by CLL, and teachers require specific skills in social psychology to effectively facilitate the learning process. Additionally, the lack of a conventional syllabus and assessment criteria can pose challenges for both teachers and learners.

The Future of CLL

With the advent of the internet and social networking technologies, CLL has expanded into online communities where users can collaborate and support each other in language learning. While CLL may not be suitable for everyone, its principles have influenced other language teaching methods and continue to shape innovative approaches to language learning.


Community Language Learning offers a unique approach to language learning, emphasizing collaboration, empathy, and personal growth. By creating a supportive community, learners can overcome barriers and achieve success in their language learning journey. While CLL has its limitations, its principles continue to inspire new methods and technologies, ensuring that language learning remains a dynamic and enriching experience for all.

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