Our Teaching Philosophy: The CLVway

a large group of young people sitting next to each other watching something on a stage

Our Teaching Methods

At Concordia Language Villages, our approach to language teaching puts villagers into a grand simulation of a trip abroad and into a culturally authentic setting—similar to what you might find in that foreign country—but filled with carefully designed learning opportunities and well-trained language teachers who help villagers understand what they hear, learn how to respond and converse and practice new skills all day, every day.

Because language education alone does not lead to the formation of courageous global citizens, our language immersion program teaches language and culture in global contexts. The disciplines of geography, history, political science, physical science, environmental science, the arts and international relations are drawn upon to create learning situations that prompt villagers to use language as a tool for understanding the complexities of the world around them and to “live the language” in significant and meaningful ways.

Experience-based learning is emphasized in every aspect of the curriculum. The educational objectives of Concordia Language Villages are reinforced through the everyday living, learning, social and recreational dimensions of Village life.

a young boy sitting at a table writing on a piece of paper




The CLVway reflects the Asian concept of 道 or the “way” to excellence through practice. It is framed by four precepts, each of which fosters key attributes of responsible global citizenship.

Grand Simulation

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Participants become citizens of a Village. They explore a new world which is intentionally constructed to evoke the look, feel, sounds and tastes of communities where the target language is spoken. The simulated Village offers a nurturing environment—a play world where each learner can gain the courage to communicate with cultural sensitivity in everyday social settings. Village life is designed to spark curiosity, encourage discovery and promote empathy. As villagers feel more at home in their Village culture, they move beyond language learning to a way of being in the language that empowers them to better understand themselves and others from within another cultural perspective.

Community-based Learning

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We are all about community. Our Village setting offers exceptional opportunities to build a purposeful residential community in which villagers and staff from across the country and around the world talk, play, eat and laugh together in ways that facilitate natural use of language and greater cultural fluency. We design each day's activities to nurture friendships and forge communal bonds that support an individual villager on his or her own journey. Villagers are encouraged to explore ways to use their voices and their actions to contribute to the greater good. As villagers become caring citizens of our community, they prepare themselves for responsible citizenship in the wider global community.

Lived Language and Culture

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Villagers learn by doing. Being able to navigate different cultural settings with confidence is a critical attribute of a well-rounded language learner. Villagers need and want to use the target language in a wide variety of culturally authentic activities and linguistically meaningful settings, whether in formal learning sessions or informal conversations, at a meal or at the bank, on the sports field or on the lake, in the cabin or in the store. Villagers' ‘front stage’ experiences are enabled by purposeful ‘back stage’ planning and teamwork by our staff of native and highly proficient speakers. Staff members are well-versed in our genuine pedagogy of context-based learning in an intentionally playful atmosphere. Our experiential, activity-based and villager-centered methods engage multiple senses and diverse ways of learning. Staff encourage villagers to invest in and reflect on their own learning and to interact with other perspectives and beliefs with interest and confidence.

Outdoor Learning

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No learner should be left indoors. We embrace our natural setting in Minnesota's North Woods to provide healthful play and learnful fun, unplugged from screens and headphones. Nature is on our playlist—frogs and crickets, wind and waves. Our community-based practices emphasize sustainability and stewardship. We incorporate appropriate cultural perspectives and environmental practices into our learner-centered activities. A natural consequence is appreciation for the wonder and complexities of the natural world and our role in caring for it.