Project-based Learning

In its simplest form, project-based learning involves a group of learners taking on an issue close to their hearts, developing a response, and presenting the results to a wider audience. Projects might last from only a few days to several months. In some cases, projects turn into businesses, such as the student-run cafe at ELISAIR, an English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) program in New York City.

Teachers report that learners frequently encourage each other and lend moral support as they face the frightening prospect of a public presentation. In the end, they come through when a presentation is scheduled, appearing well prepared and on time and communicating their ideas confidently and effectively, despite any nervousness they may feel (Mary Helen Martinez, personal communication).

...When asked what project work has meant to them, learners mention a greater awareness of their own abilities to research and report ndings; the con dence that comes from being able to map out a project and see it come to fruition; the joy and frustration of working with others; the pride in gaining important knowledge and insights; the enthusiasm generated by mastering new technologies; and, in the case of presentations of a personal nature, the excitement of sharing a story worth telling.

from Knowledge in Action: The Promise of Project-Based Learning by Heide Spruck Wrigley

I believe that using a project-based approach to language learning gives meaning to the learning that normally goes on in a classroom. I have taught a traditional teacher-centered classroom using a textbook and was always dismayed at how little language was learned. The instruction in project-based learning, at least the way I do it, is less direct than in a traditional class. Students develop language and literacy skills by working on a product that will exist beyond the classroom walls. This creates excitement and motivation that I have not seen in a traditional, text-based only class. In project-based learning, I do a lot less teaching and see a lot more learning in the classroom.

from Less Teaching and More Learning by Susan Gaer

Project-Based Learning series from Focus on Basics