Feb 4th 2013
One of the most rewarding aspects of this past year has been using projects for teaching (primarily, but not exclusively, with fluency classes). I was initially inspired to start doing this by another teacher at the school, who had worked on various projects with her classes. I saw how much she and the students seemed to be enjoying the classes and decided to try some things out for myself.
Since then I’ve put together and worked on a range of different projects with different groups (and levels) of students, and it’s been fantastic. Together, and ordinarily in the space of just a week, we’ve made a rap video (for which the students wrote the lyrics, created the music, designed and filmed the video, and edited it all together with a DVD cover – in just 5 afternoons), an EFL boardgame, nature documentaries, puppet shows, photo stories and a time capsule (to practise future forms). Inspiring students to collaborate on something creative, and empowering them to set their own agenda or syllabus, has proved incredibly rewarding for me as a teacher. There’s nothing like seeing their pride and sense of achievement at the completion of a project, and witnessing the group dynamic grow and develop as they share their skills and support each other. It’s easy to forget sometimes that just because their English isn’t always brilliant, doesn’t mean they don’t have skills and ideas like anyone else.
The possibilities for projects are endless and in the short time I’ve been teaching I’ve seen numerous benefits to this way of learning. Working on a project creates in the students a strong and immediate need for language – and the type of language needed can obviously be moulded or guided by the teacher to target a specific teaching point. By the nature of being creative projects often incorporate a range of learning styles, as well as combining content or life learning with language learning (CLIL). Students can use and share their skills in different ways and there’s a degree of flexibility in that you can steer the project as it develops.
I have a few new ideas for projects in the pipeline. I’ll post more when they start happening.