Community Language Learning

Community Language Learning


Objectives  The Community Language Learning method does not just attempt to teach students how to use another language communicatively, it also tries to encourage the students to take increasingly more responsibility for their own learning, and to "learn about their learning", so to speak. Learning in a nondefensive manner is considered to be very important, with teacher and student regarding each other as a "whole person" where intellect and ability are not separated from feelings. The initial struggles with learning the new language are addressed by creating an environment of mutual support, trust and understanding between both "learner-clients" and the "teacher-councelor".


Key Features  The Community Language Learning method involves some of the following features: 

(1) Students are to be considered as "learner-clients" and the teacher as a "teacher-councelor". 

(2) A relationship of mutual trust and support is considered essential to the learning process. 

(3) Students are permitted to use their native language, and are provided with translations from the  teacher which they then attempt to apply. 

(4) Grammar and vocabulary are taught inductively. 

(5) "Chunks" of target language produced by the students are recorded and later listened to - they  are also transcribed with native language equivalents to become texts the students work with. 

(6) Students apply the target language independently and without translation when they feel inclined/  confident enough to do so. 

(7) Students are encouraged to express not only how they feel about the language, but how they feel  about the learning process, to which the teacher expresses empathy and understanding. 

(8) A variety of activities can be included (for example, focusing on a particular grammar or  pronunciation point, or creating new sentences based on the recordings/transcripts).


Typical Techniques  Larsen-Freeman, in her book Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (1986:45-47) provides expanded descriptions of some common/typical techniques closely associated with Community Language Learning. The listing here is in summary form only. 

(1) Tape Recording Student Conversation  (Students choose what they want to say, and their target language production is recorded for later  listening/dissemination) 

(2) Transcription  (Teacher produces a transcription of the tape-recorded conversation with translations in the mother  language - this is then used for follow up activities or analysis)

(3) Reflection on Experience  (Teacher takes time during or after various activities to allow students to express how they feel about  the language and the learning experience, and the teacher indicates empathy/understanding) 

(4) Reflective Listening  (Students listen to their own voices on the tape in a relaxed and reflective environment) 

(5) Human Computer  (Teacher is a "human computer" for the students to control - the teacher stating anything in the  target language the student wants to practice, giving them the opportunity to self correct) 

(6) Small Group Tasks  (Students work in small groups to create new sentences using the transcript, afterwards sharing  them with the rest of the class)


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