Language, Culture, Communication

Language and culture serve as lenses of identity and mechanisms for social participation.

–Donald Freeman

Our core competencies: Language, Culture & Communication

The institute has its roots in language and culture teaching and learning. Language, culture and communication remain at the heart of all that we do.


Embracing principles and approaches that put the learner at the center of learning, i4cl offers language courses in English, Spanish, and sign language, as well as language teacher training and professional development programs. Courses and trainings are offered in intensive residency formats as well as in extensive blended and online formats. Intensive courses can be hosted at our retreat center in Costa Rica or can be delivered on site at a client's location.


i4cl trainers have all lived and worked in multiple contexts, cultures, and languages. They have a deep awareness of the challenges of cross-cultural learning as well as a profound appreciation of the expanded world that coming to understand another culture can bring. Our ASKS learning framework provides a powerful tool for seeking to understand the assumptions and beliefs embedded in each culture and for developing the skills people and organizations need to operate within them. Organizations also have cultures, and i4cl recognizes the cultural element in all that we do.

The cultural training we provide draws on Patrick Moran's four knowings framework - knowing about, knowing how, knowing why, and knowing oneself - to explore one's experience of a new culture and to develop competency in participating in it. Through firsthand experience in learning and working across cultures – challenging mixes of social rules, expectations, and communication – trainees and students (in mixed or single culture groups) learn to expand their cultural repertoire, borrowing new patterns from the target culture and becoming newly aware of how our home culture has shaped our thinking and way of being in the world.


Effective communication comes from combined skills in language, culture, and stance – the position and perspective from which we engage others, whether we are aware of it or not. Drawing on the communication theories of Carl Rogers, Marshall Rosenberg, and others, i4cl trainers use a variety of tools to help clients explore, understand, and develop the awareness and skills needed for meaningful interactions with others. In particular, i4cl leadership training programs include a focus on mediation and conflict transformation, communication skills especially needed in effective leadership. These programs are designed to foster the development of emotional intelligence (EQ) through concrete experiences and structured reflection.

ECRIF Teaching & Learning Framework

ECRIF stands for: Encounter, Clarify, Remember, Internalize, Fluently Use. The ECRIF framework is a way of looking at how people learn. Rather than prescribing what teachers should or should not do, the aim of this framework is to provide a tool that teachers can use to see student activities and content from the perspective of student learning. In this way, ECRIF is connected to how teachers think about what is happening in their classrooms.


The key to the ECRIF framework is the focus on the learning process that students go through as they work with the target skill or knowledge rather than what the teacher is doing during the lesson. In this way, the teacher plans activities and thinks about the content to service learning in a principled way. ECRIF can be used

  • to plan lessons and adapt course book materials = (reflecting for action)
  • to assess where students are in their learning process during a lesson = (reflecting in action)
  • to reflect on student learning after a lesson = (reflecting on action)

Who developed ECRIF and where is it being used?

The ECRIF Framework was developed by i4cl fellows Josh Kurzweil and Mary Scholl between 2004 and 2005 as they wrote the book Understanding Teaching Through Learning for McGraw-Hill and the School for International Training. It has been used on many SIT TESOL Certificate Courses as well as in a variety of workshops given for government and non-governmental organizations. Although it was originally developed for English language teachers, it has also been with content teachers teaching other subjects such as history and math as well as vocational instruction such as using computer software and operating construction equipment.

Learn more about ECRIF and find resources for using it here.