Project Work in Teaching English
Project Work in Teaching English
OF EDUCATION AND SCIENCE OF UKRAINE
FRANKO NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF L’VIV
WORK IN TEACHING ENGLISH
Chapter I. Project Work in Teaching English
1.1 Characteristics of Project Work
1.2 Types of Project Work
1.3 Organizing Project Work
Chapter II. Examples of Project Work Activities
2.1 Project Work Activities for the Elementary Level
2.2 Project Work Activities for the Intermediate
2.3 Project Work Activities for the Advanced Level
List of References
theme of the course paper is “Project Work in Teaching English”.
objectives of the paper are to highlight the importance of project work in
teaching English, to describe its main peculiarities and types, to discover how
it influences the students during the educational process and if it helps to
learn the language.
problem of using project work in teaching English is of great importance.
Project work is characterized as one of the most effective methods of teaching
and learning a foreign language through research and communication, different
types of this method allow us to use it in all the spheres of the educational
process. It involves multiskill activities which focus on a theme of interest
rather than of specific language tasks and helps the students to develop their
imagination and creativity. Nevertheless, teachers are not keen on the idea of
providing project work into their lessons because of the disadvantages this
method has. The main idea of project work is considered to be based on teaching
students through research activities and stimulating their personal interest.
research topic of the course paper is the process of teaching and learning a
foreign language with the help of project work.
research focus of the paper is the content of project work activities.
research tasks are set as follows: to describe the principal characteristics of
project work, to identify the types of projects and to analyse their benefits
and pecularities, to analyse the project work organizing procedure.
fundamental researches in the given field were carried out by such prominent
scientists and methodologists as Legutke M., Thomas H., Heines S., Brumfit C.,
Hutchinson T., Fried-Booth D. and others.
and Thomas in their book “Process and Experience in the Language Classroom”
suggest and analyse three types of projects: encounter projects, which enable
students to make contact with native speakers; text projects which encourage
students to use English language texts, either a range of them to research a
topic or one text more intensively, for example, a play to read, discuss,
dramatize, and rehearse; class correspondence projects which involve letters,
audio cassettes, photographs, etc. as exchanges between learners in different
explorer of the Project Work Method, Brumfit, in “Communicative Methodology in
Language Teaching” provides the analysis of projects in which advanced adult
students elect to work in groups to produce a radio programme about their own
country. A range of topics, for example, ethnic groups, religion, education,
are assigned to the groups, who research their topic and write and rehearse a
in “Introduction to Project Work” dwells upon a project on ‘Animals in Danger’
for secondary school students, in which they use knowledge from Science and
Geography to research threatened species, write an article, and make a poster.
in his book “Project Work” suggests a more teacher-directed example suitable
for junior learners at an elementary level, in which they are asked to collect
food labels or wrappings from tins, cartons, packets, etc. for a period of a
week. These are used to create a wall display with a map of the world
illustrated with the labels, which are attached to the relevant countries of
origin and export with coloured threads and pins. The map is then used for oral
practice and controlled writing.
scientist, Haines, in “Projects for the EFL Classroom” considers four types of
project work, namely: informational and research projects, survey projects,
production projects, and performance and organizational projects.
The theoretical value of the course
paper is in the generalization and detailed analysis of the fundamental
characteristics of project work, the difference between the types of project work
and their effectiveness.
The practical value of the paper lies
in the selection of various project work English teaching procedures.
I. Project Work in Teaching English
Characteristics of Project Work
project is an extended piece of work on a particular topic where the content
and the presentation are determined principally by the learners. The teacher or
the textbook provides the topic, but the project writers themselves decide what
they write and how they present it. This learner-centred characteristic of
project work is vital, as we shall see when we turn now to consider the merits
of project work. It is not always easy to introduce a new methodology, so we
need to be sure that the effort is worthwhile. Students do not feel that
English is a chore, but it is a means of communication and enjoyment. They can
experiment with the language as something real, not as something that only
appears in books. Project work captures better than any other activity the
three principal elements of a communicative approach.
a concern for motivation, that is, how the learners relate to the task.
a concern for relevance, that is, how the learners relate to the language.
a concern for educational values, that is, how the language curriculum relates
to the general educational development of the learner. [7,40]
project is an extended task which usually integrates language skills through a
number of activities. These activities combine in working towards an agreed
goal and may include planning, gathering of information through reading,
listening, interviewing, discussion of the information, problem solving, oral
or written reporting, display, etc.
Learners' use of language as they
negotiate plans, analyse, and discuss information and ideas is determined by
genuine communicative needs. At the school level, project work encourages
imagination and creativity, self-discipline and responsibility, collaboration,
research and study skills, and cross-curricular work through exploitation of
knowledge gained in other subjects. Successful use of project work will clearly
be affected by such factors as availability of time, access to authentic
materials, receptiveness of learners, the possibilities for learner training,
and the administrative flexibility of institutional timetabling. [1,38]
Project work leads to purposeful language
use because it requires personal involvement on the part of the students from
the onset of a project, students, in consultation with their instructor, must
decide what they will do and how they will do it, and this includes not only
the content of the project, but also the language requirements. So from this
point project work emerges as a practical methodology that puts into practice
the fundamental principles of a communicative approach to language teaching. It
can thus bring considerable benefits to our language classroom, like:
- learners become personally involved in the project.
All four skills,
reading, writing, listening and speaking, are integrated.
is promoted as learners become more responsible for their own learning.
There are learning outcomes
-learners have an end product.
and therefore the language input are more authentic.
are developed through working as a group.
Content and methodology
can be decided between the learners and the teacher and within the group
themselves so it is more learner centred.
Learners often get help from parents
for project work thus involving the parent more in the child's learning. If the
project is also displayed parents can see it at open days or when they pick the
child up from the school.
A break from routine
and the chance to do something different.
A context is established
which balances the need for fluency and accuracy.[1,40]
would be wrong to pretend that project work does not have its problems. Teachers
are often afraid that the project classroom will be noisier than the
traditional classroom and that this will disturb other classes in the school, but
it does not have to be noisy. Students should be spending a lot of the time
working quietly on their projects: reading, drawing, writing, and cutting and
pasting. In these tasks, students will often need to discuss things and they
may be moving around to get a pair of scissors or to consult a reference book,
but this is not an excuse to make a lot of noise. If students are doing a
survey in their class, for example, there will be a lot of moving around and
talking. However, this kind of noise is a natural part of any productive
activity. Indeed, it is useful to realize that the traditional classroom has
quite a lot of noise in it, too. There is usually at least one person talking
and there may be a tape recorder playing, possibly with the whole class doing a
drill. There is no reason why cutting out a picture and sticking it in a
project book should be any noisier than 30 or 40 students repeating a choral
drill. The noise of the well-managed project classroom is the sound of
work is a different way of working and one that requires a different form of
control. Students must take on some of the responsibility for managing their
learning environment. Part of this responsibility is learning what kind of, and
what level of noise is acceptable. When we introduce project work we also need
to encourage and guide the learners towards working quietly and sensibly. [7,112]
kind of work is time-consuming of course, it takes much longer to prepare,
make, and present a project than it does to do more traditional activities.
When we are already struggling to get through the syllabus or finish the
textbook, we will probably feel that we do not have time to devote to project
work, however good an activity it may be. There are two responses to this
Not all project work needs to be done in class time. Obviously, if the project
is a group task, most of it must be done in class, but a lot of projects are
individual tasks. Projects about My Family, My House, etc. can be done at home.
When choosing to do project work we are making a choice in favour of the
quality of the learning experience over the quantity. It is unfortunate that
language teaching has tended to put most emphasis on quantity. And yet there is
little evidence that quantity is really the crucial factor. What really matters
in learning is the quality of the learning experience.
Project work provides rich learning experiences: rich in colour, movement,
interaction and, most of all, involvement. The positive motivation that
projects generate affects the students’ attitude to all the other aspects of
the language programme. Learning grammar and vocabulary will appear more
relevant because the students know they will need these things for their
project work. [7,120]
students will spend all their time speaking their mother tongue. This is true
to a large extent. It is unlikely that most students will speak English while
they are working on their project. However, rather than seeing this as a
problem, we should consider its merits:
it is a natural way of working. It is a mistake to think of L1 (the mother
tongue) and L2 (the language being learnt) as two completely separate domains.
Learners in fact operate in both domains, constantly switching from one to the
other, so it is perfectly natural for them to use L1 while working on a L2
product. As long as the final product is in English it does not matter if the
work is done in L1.
project work can provide some good opportunities for realistic translation
work. A lot of the source material for projects (leaflets, maps, interviews,
texts from reference books, etc.) will be in the mother tongue. Using this
material in a project provides useful translation activities.
there will be plenty of opportunities in other parts of the language course for
learners to practice oral skills. Project work should be seen as a chance to practice
that most difficult of skills, writing.
teachers are concerned that without the teacher’s firm control the weaker
students will be lost and will not be able to cope. But not all students want
or need the teacher’s constant supervision. By encouraging the more able
students to work independently we are free to devote our time to those students
who need it most. One group may have ‘finished’ the project after a couple of
hours and say they have nothing to do than remind them that it is their
responsibility to fill the time allocated to project work and discuss ways they
could extend the work they have already completed. [11,237]
of project work is another difficult issue. This is not because project work is
difficult to assess, but because assessment criteria and procedures vary from
country to country. So there are two basic principles for assessing project
not just the language
most obvious point to note about project work is that language is only a part
of the total project. Consequently, it is not very appropriate to assess a
project only on the basis of linguistic accuracy. Credit must be given for the overall
impact of the project, the level of creativity it displays, the neatness and
clarity of presentation, and most of all the effort that has gone into its
production. There is nothing particularly unusual in this. It is normal
practice in assessing creative writing to give marks for style and content,
etc. Many education systems also require similar factors to be taken into
account in the assessment of students’ oral performance in class. So a
wide-ranging ‘profile’ kind of assessment that evaluates the whole project is
not just mistakes
at all possible, we should not correct mistakes on the final project itself, or
at least not in ink. It goes against the whole spirit of project work. A
project usually represents a lot of effort and is something that the students
will probably want to keep. It is a shame to put red marks all over it. This
draws attention to the things that are wrong about the project over the things
that are good. On the other hand, students are more likely to take note of
errors pointed out to them in project work because the project means much more
to them than an ordinary piece of class work. There are two useful techniques
to handle the errors:
Encouraging the students to do a rough draft of their project first. Correcting
this in their normal way. The students can then incorporate corrections in the
If errors occur in the final product, correcting in pencil or on a separate
sheet of paper attached to the project. A good idea was suggested by a teacher
in Spain to get students to provide a photocopy of their project. Corrections
can then be put on the photocopy. But fundamentally, the most important thing
to do about errors is to stop worrying about them. Projects are real
communication. When we communicate, we do the best we can with what we know,
and because we usually concentrate on getting the meaning right, errors in form
will naturally occur. It is a normal part of using and learning a language.
Students invest a lot of themselves in a project and so they will usually make
every effort to do their best work. [13,106]
work provides an opportunity to develop creativity, imagination, enquiry, and
self-expression, and the assessment of the project should allow for this.
work must rank as one of the most exciting teaching methodologies a teacher can
use. It truly combines in practical form both the fundamental principles of a
communicative approach to language teaching and the values of good education.
It has the added virtue in this era of rapid change of being a long-
established and well-tried method of teaching.
Types of Project Work
Project work involves multi-skill activities
which focus on a theme of interest rather than specific language tasks. In
project work, students work together to achieve a common purpose, a concrete
outcome (e.g., a brochure, a written report, a bulletin board display, a video,
an article for a school newspaper, etc). Haines identifies four
types of projects:
1. Information and research projects
which include such kinds of work as reports, displays, etc.
2. Survey projects which may also
include displays, but more interviews, summaries, findings, etc.
3. Production projects which foresee
the work with radio, television, video, wall newspapers, etc.
projects which are connected with parties, plays, drama, concerts, etc.[1,65]
What these different types of
projects have in common is their emphasis on student involvement,
collaboration, and responsibility. In this respect, project work is similar to
the cooperative learning and task-oriented activities that are widely endorsed
by educators interested in building communicative competence and purposeful
language learning. However, it differs from such approaches, it typically
requires students to work together over several days or weeks, both inside and
outside the classroom, often in collaboration with speakers of the target
language who are not normally part of the educational process.
Students in tourism, for example,
might decide to generate a formal report comparing modes of transportation;
those in hotel/restaurant management might develop travel itineraries. In both
projects, students might create survey questionnaires, conduct interviews,
compile, sort, analyze, and summarize survey data and prepare oral
presentations or written reports to present their final product. In the
process, they would use the target language in a variety of ways: they would
talk to each other, read about the focal point of their project, write
survey questionnaires, and listen carefully to those whom they interview. As a
result, all of the skills they are trying to master would come into play in a
Let us consider, for example, the
production of a travel brochure. To do this task, tourism students would first
have to identify a destination, in their own country or abroad, and then
contact tourist agencies for information about the location, including
transportation, accommodations in all price ranges, museums and other points of
interest, and maps of the region. They would then design their brochure by
designating the intended audience, deciding on an appropriate length for their
suggested itinerary, reviewing brochures for comparable sites, selecting
illustrations, etc. Once the drafting begins, they can exchange material,
evaluate it, and gradually improve it in the light of criteria they establish.
Finally, they will put the brochure into production, and the outcome will be a
finished product, an actual brochure in a promotional style. Projects allow
students to use their imagination and the information they contain does not
always have to be factual. [1,80]
of the great benefits of project work is its adaptability. We can do projects
on almost any topic. They can be factual or fantastic. Projects can, thus, help
to develop the full range of the learners’ capabilities. Projects are often
done in poster format, but students can also use their imagination to
experiment with the form. It encourages a focus on fluency.
project is the result of a lot of hard work. The authors of the projects have
found information about their topic, collected or drawn pictures, written down
their ideas, and then put all the parts together to form a coherent
projects are very creative in terms of both content and language. Each project
is a unique piece of communication, created by the project writers themselves.
This element of creativity makes project work a very personal experience. The
students are writing about aspects of their own lives, and so they invest a lot
of themselves in their project.
work is a highly adaptable methodology. It can be used at every level from
absolute beginner to advanced. There is a wide range of possible project
activities, and the range of possible topics is limitless.
motivation is the key to successful language learning, and project work is
particularly useful as a means of generating it.
point is that this work is a very active medium like a kind of structured
playing. Students are not just receiving and producing words, they are:
drawing pictures, maps, diagrams, and charts;
cutting out pictures;
arranging texts and visuals;
carrying out interviews and surveys;
possibly making recordings, too.
project work gives a clear sense of achievement. It enables all students to
produce a worthwhile product. This feature of project work makes it
particularly well suited to the mixed ability class, because students can work
at their own pace and level. The brighter students can show what they know,
unconstrained by the syllabus, while at the same time the slower learners can
achieve something that they can take pride in, perhaps compensating for their
lower language level by using more photos and drawings. [14,320]
foreign language can often seem a remote and unreal thing. This inevitably has
a negative effect on motivation, because the students do not see the language
as relevant to their own lives. If learners are going to become real language
users, they must learn that English is not only used for talking about British
or American things, but can be used to talk about their own world.
project work helps to integrate the foreign language into the network of the
learner’s own communicative competence. It creates connections between the
foreign language and the learner’s own world. It encourages the use of a wide
range of communicative skills, enables learners to exploit other spheres of
knowledge, and provides opportunities for them to write about the things that
are important in their own lives.
it helps to make the language more relevant to learners’ actual needs. When
students use English to communicate with other English speakers, they will
want, and be expected, to talk about aspects of their own lives – their house,
their family, their town, etc. Project work thus enables students to rehearse
the language and factual knowledge that will be of most value to them as
important issue in language teaching is the relationship between language and
culture. It is widely recognized that one of the most important benefits of learning
a foreign language is the opportunity to learn about other cultures and
English, as an international language, should not be just for talking about the
ways of the English – speaking world, but also as a means of telling the world
about one’s own culture. [16,157]
is a growing awareness among language teachers that the process and content of
the language class should contribute towards the general educational
development of the learner. Project work is very much in tune with modern views
about the purpose and nature of education:
There is the question of educational values. Most modern school curricula
require all subjects to encourage initiative, independence, imagination, self-
discipline, co-operation, and the development of useful research skills.
Project work is a way of turning such general aims into practical classroom
Cross-curricula approaches are encouraged. For language teaching this means
that students should have the opportunity to use the knowledge they gain in other
subjects in the English class.
we can come to the conclusion that project work activities are very effective
for the modern school curricula and should be used while studying.
Organizing Project Work
Although recommendations as to the
best way to develop projects in the classroom vary, most are consistent with
the eight fundamental steps. Though the focus is upon the collaborative task,
the various steps offer opportunities to build on the students’ heightened awareness
of the utility of the language by working directly on language in class. In
short, language work arises naturally from the project itself, ‘developing
cumulatively in response to a basic objective, namely, the project’ [2,57].
Strategically orchestrated lessons devoted to relevant elements of language
capture students’ attention because they have immediate applicability to their
Step I: Defining a theme.
In collaboration with students, we
identify a theme that will amplify the students’ understanding of an aspect of
their future work and provide relevant language practice. In the process,
teachers will also build interest and commitment. By pooling information,
ideas, and experiences through discussion, questioning, and negotiation, the
students will achieve consensus on the task ahead.
Step II: Determining the final
We define the final outcome of the project
(e.g., written report, brochure, debate, video) and its
presentation (e.g., collective or individual). We agree on objectives for both
content and language.
Step III: Structuring the project.
Collectively we determine the steps
that the students must take to reach the final outcome and agree upon a time
frame. Specifically, we identify the information that they will need and the
steps they must take to obtain it (e.g., library research, letters, interviews,
faxes). We consider the authentic materials that the students can consult to
enhance the project (e.g., advertisements from English magazines, travel
brochures, menus in English, videos, etc.). Decide on each student’s role and
put the students into working groups. If they are not used to working together,
they may need help in adapting to unsupervised collaboration. They may also be
a little reluctant to speak English outside the classroom with strangers.
Step IV: Identifying language skills
There are times, during project work,
when students are especially receptive to language skills and strategy practice.
We consider students’ skills and strategy needs and integrate lessons into the
curriculum that best prepare students for the language demands associated with
Steps V, VI, and VII.
1. We identify the language skills
which students will need to gather information for their project (Step V) and
strategies for gathering information. If students will secure information from
aural input, we show them how to create a grid for systematic data collection
to facilitate retrieval for comparison and analysis.
2. We determine the skills and
strategies that students will need to compile information that may have been
gathered from several sources and/or by several student groups (Step VI).
3. We identify the skills and
strategies that students will need to present the final project to their peers,
other classes, or the headmaster (Step VII). As they prepare their
presentations, they may need to work on the language (written or spoken) of
Step V: Gathering information.
After students design instruments for
data collection, we have them gather information inside and outside the
classroom, individually, in pairs, or in groups. It is important that students
‘regard the tracking down and collecting of resources as an integral part of
their involvement’ in the project.
Step VI: Compiling and analysing
Working in groups or as a whole
class, students should compile information they have gathered, compare their
findings, and decide how to organize them for efficient presentation.
During this step, students may proofread each other’s work, cross-reference or
verify it, and negotiate with each other for meaning.
VII: Presenting final product.
will present the outcome of their project work as a culminating
activity. The manner of presentation will largely depend on the final form of
the product. It may involve the screening of a video; the staging of a debate;
the submission of an article to the school newspaper or a written report to the
headmaster; or the presentation of a brochure to a local tourist agency or
VIII: Evaluating the project.
this final phase of project work, students and the teacher reflect on the steps
taken to accomplish their objectives and the language, communicative skills,
and information they have acquired in the process. They can discuss the
value of their experience and its relationship to future vocational needs. They
can also identify aspects of the project which could be improved and/or
enhanced in future attempts at project work.[2,105]
First of all, we should always
consider the students’ long-term language needs. Though it may be difficult, we
should try to identify the social and professional contexts that they will have
to function in and to think of projects students can undertake that require
them to use the language in a way that resembles their ultimate use.
Secondly, we should consider the
linguistic skills that students will have to employ in these contexts. Projects
that require practice in those skills would be most useful. If students have to
manage a lot of fax traffic, the project’s subsidiary tasks should involve
those types of activity.
Thirdly, consider what is feasible.
One popular project involves querying travelers as they pass through an
airport terminal or major train station.
Although an airport/train station is
the ideal place to ask questions and to find English speakers to answer them,
there may be no international airport or major train station at hand to use for
this purpose. If this is the case, there is no point in insisting that students
interview native speakers of English. At the same time, teachers should not
abandon the idea of a project altogether if ideal circumstances are not
available. Since most professional conversation in English is probably carried
on among non-native speakers, students will benefit equally from projects that
put them in touch with speakers of varieties of world English. In addition,
there are numerous sources of material in English that can be obtained at no
cost with a formal letter of request and then sifted, compared, and summarized.
In other words, we should not give up simply because a pool of native speakers
or authentic printed material is unavailable close to home.
Finally, we should do a lot of planning.
Although the project approach requires student input and decision-making in the
initial phase of project definition, the teacher’s understanding of the outcome
and the steps needed to achieve project objectives is crucial. Therefore,
before introducing the project, the teacher should identify topics of possible
interest, the educational value of the outcome, corresponding activities, and
the students’ material or cognitive needs in conducting the project. There are
many schools where curricula demands, the lack of equipment, scheduling
problems, issues of insurance, administrative rigidity, and the like preclude
instructional innovations like project work.[6,240]
Incorporating project work into more
traditional classrooms requires careful orchestration and planning. Students
who are not used to functioning autonomously, who may even be accustomed to
close control and monitoring, may find it hard to take control of their own
activity. Therefore, we should ease them into it by planning cooperative, small
group work beforehand.
Similarly, many teachers encounter
resistance from school administrators when they challenge the status quo with
the project approach. Traditional schools that are governed by strict curricula
guidelines and systematic testing are frequently not the most receptive
environments for project work. Some administrators, for example, may complain
that the elaborate activities associated with project work do not prepare
students for required exams. Yet, if the underlying objective of the educational
process is to build the students’ ability to use the language fluently in novel
situations, project work will carry them a lot closer to meeting that objective
than more conventional work on grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
Project work can only be effective
when teachers relax control of their students temporarily and assume the role
of guide or facilitator. The teacher can play an important role by diligently
overseeing the multiple steps of project work, establishing guidelines, helping
students make decisions, and providing instruction in the language when it is
needed. Giving students freedom to immerse themselves in the project can lead
to motivated and independent learners, but it requires a certain flexibility on
the part of the instructor if students are to benefit maximally.
II. Examples of Project Work Activities
Project Work Activities for the Elementary Level
The Class Contract
l. Divide the class into pairs. Ask each
pair to draw up two lists: what they expect of you and what they think you
should expect of them. Give them about fifteen minutes for this. Meanwhile you
make a list of what you expect of them and what you think they should expect of
2. Tell your students that you want to
draw up a contract with them based on the expectations that they and you
have just noted down. Divide the board into two columns: ‘(your name) Agrees
to’ and ‘The class agrees to’. Appoint a class secretary to make a fair copy of
what you are about to write on the board and give them a sheet of paper to
write it on. Nobody else need write anything. Negotiate with the class, on the
basis of what you and they wrote down, what they can expect of you and you are
willing to abide by, and vice versa. Draw up an agreed wording on the board for
the secretary to copy. When it is complete, you and all your students must sign
the secretary's fair copy.
3. Take the fair copy of the contract.
Make enough copies to give one to each student. Distribute the copies next
lesson and stick the original on the classroom wall. If any new students join
the class, invite them to read the contract and sign it. Give them a copy too.
4. At regular intervals, once a week in
a one-month course, or beginning, mid and end of terms in a one-year course,
hold a brief discussion with the class on how well everyone is abiding by the contract.
If you are all doing well, give yourselves a round of applause. If not, discuss
what is going wrong and what you might do about it. This might include discussion
as to whether you are slipping or the demands of the contract are unrealistic.
David agrees to give motivating lessons,
maintain a good relationship with the class, be honest and critical, respond to
initiatives, attend regularly and be punctual, correct homework promptly and
thoroughly and to speak English out of class.
The signature of the teacher
We agree to cooperate and participate
attend regularly and be punctual
to do homework thoroughly
to speak English in class all the time
except for words
we don’t know
be honest and critical
he signature of the students
1. Write the quotation by Rabrindinath
Tagore “What you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow.” on the
board. Discuss it briefly with your students. Then draw a symbolic
representation of your own ‘shadow’ on the board - various symbols that in some
way represent you and things/people that are important to you. When you have
drawn your shadow explain the symbols to your students.
2. Ask them to draw their own shadows.
When they have done that, if you have a small class, ask them one by one to
explain their shadow to everyone else. If your class has more than around a dozen
students, divide the class into groups of between six and a dozen to do the
cams. If you remain in whole-class formation, make sure the explanations are
directed towards everyone in the class, not just you. If you have groups,
monitor them discreetly, again making sure the explanations are directed
towards their colleagues rather than you.
3. As a follow-up task, either in class
or for homework, ask your students to write up the explanation of their
Here is an example of shadows done by a
student with her own explanation of the symbols:
It is a sort of box because I’m very
closed in myself, and with a locker because I do not let everybody in. In it
there is a book, a radio/tape recorder and a TV, it is mainly what I spend my
days doing when I am not at school or studying. There are also faces of boys
and girls: these are my friends, and they are in a little box apart because I
do not reveal myself to them, I do not have as many close friends as I would
Ask everyone to think for a moment about the ingredients for happiness. Tell
everyone to imagine they are going to bake a happiness cake. What ingredients
and what spices would they put in? Ask them to work alone and write down the ingredients
and spices for their cake. Allow five minutes for this.
If you have a small class, ask each member in turn to tell the others about the
ingredients and spices for their cake. You tell them your list last. If you
have a larger class, divide it into groups of six to dozen, and get them to do
the same. Monitor the groups and when they have finished, ask them to report
back to the whole class. Again tell them your ingredients and spices last.
Went Right? What Went Wrong?
Talk to your students about your own good and bad learning experience and the
extent to which these correlated with good and bad relationships with your
Tell your students to draw two columns. In the first they are to list teachers
they remember getting on well with and in the other those they got on badly
with. Divide the class into groups of four or five and ask them to tell one
another about these teachers and effect they had on their learning.
Bring the students back together as a whole class and ask them what they feel
are the main things that contribute to a good relationship between students and
their teacher. The most important thing is regular, honest communication,
because everything else both depends on this and can be remedied through this.
Your students may come up with other points but be sure to emphasis the
importance of regular, honest communication.
a follow up, either in class or for homework get your students to write about
their positive and negative learning experience.
a Table Could Speak
Draw an object, e.g. a table, on the board. Tell the students that your object
is the starting point for a picture you would like the class to create and that
you would like them to come up to the board one at a time and add more things
to it. Tell them that they can draw absolutely anything except people and that
quality of the drawing does not matter. The picture is finished when there are
about a dozen items in it.
Put the chalk or board pen where everyone can reach
it easily – make sure they know where it is. Then get out of the way and let
them draw the picture.
When the picture is reasonably complete declare the picture ready. If your
class has had to come out to the front, send them back to their usual places.
Divide the class into pairs. Ask the pairs to choose any two items. In the
picture write a dialogue between them of about ten lines. Tell your students
they must not mention the name of their items in the dialogue. For example, if
it is a dialogue between the table and a plant, the plant must not say, ‘Hello,
table. How are you today?’ but just, ‘Hello, how are you today?’ Give a time
limit of fifteen minutes. First reaction to this task would usually be a gasp
of shock, but they should quickly get used to the idea. Keep out of the way for
about five minutes while they settle. Then be available to help with
vocabulary, etc. If you are not needed, do not hover, just sit down out of the
way. As they are finishing, go round and check they have not mentioned the
names of the ‘speakers’ in their dialogue as this will ruin Step 5.
When they have finished, ask the pairs in turn to read aloud their dialogue,
each partner taking a part. The others in the class must guess which item is
talking to which. This phase is very good for making students read loud and
clearly as colleagues will not otherwise understand.
Project Work Activities for the Intermediate Level
Island or Bridge
If you have a magnet, show it to the class and check if they know what it is
called. Otherwise, you may need to explain it in the next step. On the board
draw three columns, heading them respectively ‘magnet’, ‘island’ and ‘bridge’.
Divide your class into pairs and ask them to draw up a list of characteristics
in the columns on the board.
Ask your students to think for a moment about the
way they act in various social contexts, for example at parties, with colleagues,
in the family – more like a magnet, an island or a bridge. Divide the class
into groups to discuss the problem briefly.
Ask them, still in groups, to discuss which attitude – the magnet, the island
or the bridge – is most conductive to a good working environment in class and
what that implies in term of actual behaviour.
Discuss as a class the findings of the groups. They should feel that being a
bridge is the most conductive and that it implies a spirit of co-operation,
participating, helping others. At the same time a magnet may on occasions act
as a catalyst to encourage shyer members of the class when/how a magnet might
be a positive element in a class and when/how a negative one.
Extend the discussion to how bridges can be formed out of class. Draw up a list
on the board.
Give your students a few minutes to discuss with those sitting near them which of
these ideas they feel are most appropriate to them and how they intend to
implement them. It is better in this phase to let pairs/groups form
spontaneously than to impose them. Ask a few members of the class what
conclusion they came to.
1. Initiate an informal discussion on
your student’s reading habits in their own language. Ask which of them are in
the habit of reading regularly in English outside class. Ask what kind
of things they read and where they get their reading material from.
Put it to the class that for most learners regular reading out of class is
absolutely essential to reach an advanced language level – it is one of the best
ways of expanding vocabulary and probably the only way to get a good sense of
style. Tell them you are going to work with them to set up a framework that
encourages them to read regularly.
3. The first hurdle is to find a source
of suitable books. With the help of your students, write a list on the board of
possible sources of books in English. Tell them to copy it into their
notebooks. It will probably look like this:
a) public lending libraries;
b) school libraries;
d) each other.
Discuss with the class which of these
sources is/are most readily available.
4. Arrange with your students for all to
bring a book to class the lesson after next so that everyone can get an idea of
what their colleagues are going to read.
When the class brings their books, ask each student to set a realistic target
date to read their book by. Tell them that the date must be agreed with you.
Draw up a class list of author/title/target date for all their books and fix
this to the classroom wall.
As target dates are reached, check on progress, do not be 'heavy' if they do not
achieve their targets but remind them that they are the ones who set the target
dates and that you do expect them to finish soon.
7. As students finish their books, ask
them to fill in information about the books they have read on a ‘book
recommendation sheet’, which you van fix to the wall for your students to
consult. It might look like this:
Author Title Interest Difficulty Comments
For ‘Interest’ and ‘Difficulty’ it is
best to use a scale, for example one to five, to indicate the degree of
interest and difficulty.
The same broad principles apply to
listening. Below is a list of possible sources for material:
a) English-speaking people that students
b) television programmes
c) films (original or subtitled), film
f ) radio
h) spoken word cassettes
Discuss with your students which of
these are available locally. Draw their attention to the help that images give
in understanding and to the high level of concentration needed when listening,
which is quickly tiring. Follow-ups for listening are more difficult to set up
than for reading. Once again, in general encourage reflection. Here are
possible headings for a ‘recommended listening sheet’ that you can fix to the classroom
1. Initiate a discussion with your
students about their interests. Ask them about how they might link those
interests to their study of English. Put it to them that they could extend
an interest or begin a new one by doing a project on some aspect of English-speaking
culture. Tell them that they can choose anything they like within that, only
that at the end of the project they must produce something to
present to the others in the class - orally or in
writing. This can be something quite modest but its purpose is simply to
provide some kind of objective. If you get a reasonably positive response, go
on to Step 2.
2. Tell them that the hardest part is
often choosing the project. So give them copies of the handout given below:
topics for personal culture projects
A long period, e.g. the Elizabeth era, the Victorian era
A short period, e.g. the American Civil War, Henry VIII and the Reformation
An incident and the events surrounding it, e.g. the Spanish Armada, the Wall
A country you do not know about where English is spoken, e.g. one of the
Caribbean or Pacific islands
A region or state in an English-speaking country, e.g. Florida, Wales,
A city or town, e.g. Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Auckland
People and their work
Statesmen and women, e.g. Gandhi, Churchill, Lincoln
Scientists, e.g. Newton, Darwin, Einstein
Artists of all kinds, e.g. The Beatles, Constable, Blake, Jane Austen, Shaw
Entertainers, e.g. Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe
Individuals, e.g. Martin Luther King, Bede, Dr Johnson
Traditions and customs, e.g. Pancake Day, Thanksgiving
The Royal Family
Castles, stately homes and gardens
Food and cooking
Porcelain and pottery, e.g. Wedgwood, Royal Doulton
Ways of being, e.g. attitudes, norms, taboos, behaviours
Ask your students each to decide on
their project to tell you next lesson.
3. Next lesson ask each student what
their project is going to be about and make a note of it. If more than one
wants to work on a particular area, suggest they work in a pair, but discourage
more than two students working on one project. There are so many to choose from
that it is a pity not to have a wide range. Agree a target date for completion
of the project and presentation to the class - in a one-month course it will
have to be near the end of the course, in a year-long course towards the end of
the term you start the project in. Tell your students that you will ask them
from time to time how their projects are going and will set aside some class
time to discuss progress and to deal with any problems.
Mini-projects have great success, where
the students identify some small thing about English-speaking culture they want
to know about and have just one lesson in a library to find out. You accompany
them to the library and help them find the materials they need. The next lesson
they report back what they found. Among the mini-projects which may be
suggested are: willow-pattern pottery, Shakespeare’s life, the historical King
Arthur, prehistoric monuments in Britain, Elgar, Liverpool and child labour in
Project Work Activities for the Advanced Level
Taking the Plunge
1. Ask your class what they think are
the main problems of being a more advanced learner. They usually talk about
difficult vocabulary, complex structures and other language items. Accept these
points but put it to them that there is often a much more fundamental problem,
namely how they go about their learning. If any student raises any of the more
fundamental areas outlined in the handout, use this as a direct springboard
into the next step.
2. Give each student a copy of the
Being a good
Many learners of English manage to reach
a level where they can understand, speak and write for everyday purposes. Yet
only a relatively small proportion of these people ever become genuinely
advanced users of the language, though many make the attempt. As you are just
beginning a course in more advanced English, it is important for you to be
aware of what you need to do and how to go about it, so that you can make a
success of your course.
You are going to read a short text, with
a series of tasks to do as you read. This will provide an opportunity to
reflect on your learning and, through your answers to the tasks, will give your
teacher valuable information about you as a learner, so that he or she can give
you greater guidance for the future.
In many language courses the teaching at
lower levels tends to follow a pattern of what could be described as
'spoon-feeding' - the teacher chooses the elements of the language to teach
(the food), plans how to present it (puts it onto a spoon) and teaches (feeds)
the learners with it, as if they were children. However, just as children
become progressively more independent and in due course have to assume full
responsibility for themselves as adults, so learners of a language, as they
advance, have to become more independent and assume greater responsibility for
their own learning.
To be successful at an advanced level,
you will have to commit yourself not only to attending classes but also to
spending a substantial amount of time studying out of class. This should partly
be directed by your teacher (homework and preparation) and partly through your
A typical student with three to five
hours of English classes per week should expect to spend about the same number
of hours studying out of class - doing grammar exercises and writing tasks,
learning vocabulary, reading extensively, and so on. The fewer hours you have
with a teacher, the more you will have to work on your own. Without this kind
of commitment you cannot expect to make a lot of progress.
1. How many hours of English classes do
you have each week?
2. How many more hours can you commit to
learning English each week?
It is easy to commit yourself to a
theoretical number of hours per week, but unless you set aside particular days
and times, you will keep finding you are too busy doing other things. So decide
now which days and times you are going to dedicate to studying English.
3. In the light of your commitment, how
much progress do you expect to make? In what areas (e.g.
listening/speaking/reading/writing, accuracy/fluency)? Be specific about your
Ways of studying
Making good progress depends not only on
how much time you spend but also how you go about studying. For example, how do
you organise the things you want to learn?
4. Write about how you organise the
notes you take in class and the things you want to learn when studying on your
5. What techniques do you use to memorise
6. When you are studying alone, you need
good reference materials. What dictionaries, grammar books and other materials
do you have?
The quantum leap
Ironically, one of the greatest problems
that often arises among more advanced learners is the fact that they can
already function in English for a lot of everyday purposes and, instead of
extending their knowledge, go on just using what they already know. To be
successful at an advanced level, thin is not enough. You have to make a
‘quantum leap’, in other words a significant jump towards something much more
sophisticated and wide-ranging. You have to aim to function like a mature,
well-educated native speaker of the language. This means that you need to be
able to draw upon your experience of the world and to have a reasonable, though
not specialist, knowledge of any subject you are speaking or writing about. The
content is vitally important, because if this is too limited, your language
will be correspondingly limited - you won't need and therefore won't use more
advanced structures and vocabulary.
7. How old are you?
8. What areas do you feel you have some
9. In what areas do you feel you have
very little knowledge?
There are three areas that contribute
substantially to making the quantum leap and particularly to writing in a more
sophisticated way: observation, imagination and thinking.
10. Do you consider yourself to be good
Explain your answers.
Good luck with your advanced course.
Ask them to read the text and answer the
questions. Set a time limit of thirty minutes. Tell your students that you will
want to collect the completed handouts in to read, but that you are interested
in what they say, not in how correct the English is. With students that finish
early, take the opportunity to speak to individuals and discuss some of their
3. When they have finished, initiate a
discussion about what they have read and written. Ask them if they feel they
have learnt anything important that they perhaps hadn't thought about before.
Encourage an exchange of views among the members of the class. Collect in the
4. Later, go through the handouts,
noting down any points you want to use for feedback and any you want to keep
for your own reference. Make comments on the handouts about the contents where
you feel this would be helpful to the student but don't correct. In a follow-up
lesson, preferably the lesson immediately following, go over any points that
emerged from the handouts. In particular, you may want to draw attention to
reference materials you would recommend.
In Step 3, after the students have
completed their handouts, put them into groups of four to compare and discuss
what they wrote. In particular, ask them to discuss the specific contexts where
the quantum leap would be important and the sort of tasks that might involve
the three areas of observing, imagining and thinking. This can be very valuable
but you will need to set aside about twenty minutes extra.
Ups and Downs
1. Initiate a discussion on ‘ups and
downs’ – when we feel better or not so good. Draw the first to these graphs on
the board, showing your own ups and downs. Explain your day rhythms with
reference to the graphs.
3 6 9 midday 15 18 21 midnight
Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun
pm am pm am pm am pm am pm am pm am pm
F M A M J J A S O N D
Ask your students to copy the graphs
and complete them with their own rhythms. When they are ready, ask them to
explain their graphs to their colleagues. If your class has more than about
twelve students, divide the class into groups of up to twelve for this phase;
monitor them and when they have finished get the groups to report to the whole
class the kinds of things they found.
1. Divide the class into pairs. Ask the
pairs to draw up a list of English-speaking
speaking countries, that is to say,
countries where English is an official language
or is widely spoken. Be available to
help supply the names of countries in English.
2. On the board draw five columns and
head them with the names of the main continents. Ask your students for
the names of the countries they wrote down in Step 1 and write them in the appropriate
column. When you have exhausted their lists, add any others you feel they
should know. The main countries are:
Europe: Cyprus, Gibraltar,
Ireland, Malta, The United Kingdom
Africa: Botswana, The Gambia,
Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South
Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Asia: Bangladesh, Brunei, Hong Kong,
India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka
Australia and the Pacific: Australia,
Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga
The Americas: Canada, The United States,
Belize, many of the Caribbean islands, including The Bahamas, Barbados,
Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad
and Tobago, Guyana, the Falkland Islands
3. Explain to the class that you want
them to do a project on one of these countries but not on England or the United
States. Tell the class to form groups of three or four. Let your students
choose their partners, while making sure no individuals get left out. Ask each
group to choose a country. Allow more than one group to work on the same
country – they often use quite different approaches and present interestingly
different work – but you may decide you want your students to do different work
on as broad a range of countries as possible, in which case they should all
choose different countries.
4. When your students have chosen their
countries, ask each group, for your reference, to give you a piece of paper
with the names of the members in their group and which country they are going
to work on.
5. Establish with the class the
a) how much you want each student to
contribute to the project;
b) the content - set an upper limit of
one third dedicated to the general background (geography and history, currency,
industries, etc.) and insist that the greater part should be dedicated to the
use of the English language, e.g. the role of English, how it differs from standard
British/American English, periodicals published in English, literature, etc.
The possible areas of focus here vary considerably from country to country and
you may need to discuss with each group those areas that would offer the most
potential, e.g. the question of language variety is more appropriate where most
or all of the population is English-speaking, the periodicals published in
English are more relevant where English is one of the many languages used in
c) the deadline by which the project
must be handed in.
6. Discuss with your students what
sources of information they are going to use. Students work mostly from five sources:
a) encyclopedia entries;
c) newspaper and magazine articles;
d) computer programs;
e) information from embassies, high
commissions and tourist offices.
You may be able to provide support from
material you yourself possess - this is where it is useful to have a list of
groups and their countries, so that you know who to give it to.
objectives of the paper were to highlight the importance of the project work in
teaching English, to discover how it influences the students during the
educational process and if this type of work in the classroom helps to learn
the basis of the literary sources studied we can come to the following
conclusions that project work has advantages like the increased motivation when
learners become personally involved in the project; all four skills, reading,
writing, listening and speaking, are integrated; autonomous learning is
promoted as learners become more responsible for their own learning; there are
learning outcomes -learners have an end product; authentic tasks and therefore
the language input are more authentic; interpersonal relations are developed
through working as a group; content and methodology can be decided between the
learners and the teacher and within the group themselves so it is more
learner-centred; learners often get help from parents for project work thus
involving the parent more in the child's learning; if the project is also
displayed parents can see it at open days or when they pick the child up from
the school; a break from routine and the chance to do something different.
disadvantages of project work are the noise which
is made during the class, also projects are time-consuming and the students use
their mother tongue too much, the weaker students are lost and not able to cope
with the task and the assessment of projects is very difficult. However, every
type of project can be held without any difficulties and so with every
types of projects are information and research projects, survey projects,
production projects and performance and organizational projects which can be
performed differently as in reports, displays, wall newspapers, parties, plays,
Though project work may not be the
easiest instructional approach to implement, the potential pay-offs are many.
At the very least, with the project approach, teachers can break with routine
by spending a week or more doing something besides grammar drills and technical
The organization of project work may
seem difficult but if we do it step by step it should be easy. We should define
a theme, determine the final outcome, structure the project, identify language
skills and strategies, gather information, compile and analyse the information,
present the final product and finally evaluate the project. Project work
demands a lot of hard work from the teacher and the students, nevertheless, the
final outcome is worth the effort.
the course paper we can see that project work has more positive sides than
negative and is effective during the educational process. Students are likely
to learn the language with the help of projects and have more fun.
conclude, project work is effective, interesting, entertaining and should be
used at the lesson.
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