Community-Based Language Initiative

What is the Community-Based Language Initiative?

The Community-Based Language initiative emphasizes that because our communities are now so diverse, "local" is "global." This initiative focuses on building bridges between Duke language students and different language communities both locally and abroad. The goal of the Community-Based Language Initiative (CBLI) is to integrate community into academic language learning. CBLI connects Duke language students to communities that have educational assets and resources that complement learning outcomes. Students engage in many types of interactions with the community members and critically reflect on their experiences.

CBLI includes both service-learning courses in Arabic, French, and Spanish, as well as other language courses that integrate community-based learning in a variety of ways with native speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, German, Spanish, and Persian.

How Diverse is Durham?

Examples of Student Experiences with Community-Based Language Learning

  • Publication of “How to Live in Durham” guides for Arabic and French-speaking refugee families
  • Cross-cultural dialogues with visiting Chinese officials
  • Publication of bilingual Spanish/English coloring books for primary school students
  • Exhibit at the Durham History Hub called "Resettlement Journeys: Central Africa to Durham"
  • Celebration of Chinese New Year
  • Creation of a "reflection wall" to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
  • Creation of multi-lingual website LANGUAGES IN DURHAM
  • Shadowing of Medical and Education Interpreters 
  • The Mariposa Stories Project is a bilingual (English/Spanish) coloring book series for K-5 students, educators, and community organizations that is crafted from personal experiences of Latinx families in Durham, NC.
Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about how to integrate Community-Based Language Learning (CBLI) into your course curriculum, email Joan Clifford, PhD. As Director of the Community-Based Language Initiative (CBLI), Joan focuses on connecting Duke language students with diverse language groups in the community in order to deepen knowledge about our communities, to engage in intercultural and linguistic learning, and to work in solidarity to support organizations and individuals.