In my preparations for the TESOL Diploma course later this year, I’ve been reading about teaching methodology and one of the areas I’ve come across is using Project Work in the English Language classroom. In particular there’s a chapter in Methodology in Language Teaching, An Anthology of Current Practice (Richards & Renandya, CUP 2002) in which Fredrika L. Stoller discusses project work as a means to promote language and content.
It’s encouraging for me to discover how so much of what I’ve been doing intuitively is supported by principles and practices of teaching put forward by language educators far more experienced than me. What struck me most when reading Stoller’s article was that she identified such a range of benefits to students. In addition to project work having the capacity to develop learner autonomy, she also noted that it not only improves language skills and content learning but also cognitive ability – a point which hadn’t consciously occurred to me.
Stoller describes a number of project types and in reading these I observed that I’ve tended toward using more creative projects with my students than those she describes. I would imagine that some of the configurations that Stoller mentions (survey, correspondence and organisational projects to name but a few) may be more suited to more ‘serious’ groups (Business English or more mature students, for example) than the more artistic formats I’ve been used to. For any teacher looking to use projects in their classroom, I’d recommend reading Stoller’s chapter. For myself, I look forward to finding myself with the time with which to try out some of the project configurations she describes.