The 4 C’s: 21st century skills in the English language classroom

You know the four Cs, right? Communication. Collaboration. Creativity. Critical thinking.These are the four ‘super skills’ that 21st century skills students can’t do without. But how are you supposed to teach English and the 4 Cs at the same time?


Communication is all about sharing: ideas, opinions, and thoughts. It includes the abilities to articulate ideas effectively when speaking or writing. Since every language is an essential means of communication and the main objective of teaching a foreign language is to enable the learner to communicate in it, ESL classes have long been regarded as one of the best environments for enhancing students' communication skills.

Your How-to Tips

Technology can help. For example, online communication (such as online groups for class discussions) encourage students to communicate. This is helpful since online discussions can give shy students a way to express themselves without the added pressure of speaking in front of an entire class.


Are your students able to work effectively with diverse and different teams, show flexibility and be willing to accomplish common goals? Collaboration can help students become more engaged in the classroom and more curious about the topic that is taught.

Your How-to Tips Motivate your students to work together with their peers, and incorporate teamwork and multiple projects in your lessons. You can also create a collaborative environment by changing your English classroom design.


Creativity is the practice of thinking outside the box. It is not only about creating something original from scratch, but also about taking something that already exists and creating something totally new from it. So, since we all know that children and teens are highly curious and happy to explore everything, it can be easy to reinforce that skill!

Your How-to Tips When you ask your students to complete a sentence in as many ways as possible or come up with creative solutions for a given problem, you do boost their creativity skills! Even simple speaking and writing activities promote creativity because both demand rearranging and reusing already known language elements in a new way.

Critical thinking

Actually, this is not a new concept! Originally acknowledged by Socrates about 2,500 years ago, critical thinking helps young and old students to learn to ask questions, become engaged in the world around them, and help others think critically, too.

Your How-to Tips Use thought-provoking questions (such as ‘Why do you think…?’ and ‘Do you agree that…?’). Create learning experiences, such as mock debates.

In what ways are you already integrating the 4 Cs into your curriculum?

If you liked this, you might also enjoy the article 5+1 Ways to Become a Better English Teacher.

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