Project-Based Learning to Promote Language Skill Development: A Sample Reflection Project

Are you looking to energize your teaching and enhance student learning? Project-based learning (PBL) is a fun and meaningful way to integrate the use of language skills while promoting students’ critical thinking skills. As indicated by the name, project-based learning involves students refining and honing their language skills through the completion of projects.

PBL requires teachers to create a classroom culture of creativity and engagement in which students share their work and reflect on the processes they use to create and complete their projects (Cooper & Murphy, 2016). Hedge (1993) noted additional specifications for PBL use in an English language classroom, including using authentic materials, creating a student-centered classroom, sequencing tasks to scaffold the final project, and students accepting responsibility in completing the project both in and outside of the classroom.

Projects can include multimedia projects, posters, dioramas, spoken presentations, and traditional papers.

A Sample Project

Following is a sample 3-week project used in an undergraduate first-year experience course for English language learners. The assignment instructions outline the instructor’s expectations for the assignment. In addition, the pacing for the activities and workshop times are clarified for students, demonstrating how the tasks scaffold to the final project.

Provide the following information to your students:

Reflection Project

Take some time to reflect on the semester. What did you learn? What did enjoy? What did you dislike? Was there a person or a group of people who helped you or who you enjoyed spending time with?

Create a multimodal composition in which you reflect on the semester. Your multimodal composition can be a poster, a PowerPoint, a Prezi, a video, or a podcast.

This project is considered your final exam. Therefore, you will present your work to the class during the scheduled exam time. Presentations/multimodal compositions should be no more than 5 minutes long.

Following is the schedule for completion of the project:

Rubric

Provide the following rubric to your students. It shows them how their work will be assessed.

 

For more information about PBL, see the ELT Development Series book, Project-Based Learning.

 

 

 

References

Cooper, R., & Murphy, E. (2016). Hacking project based learning. Cleveland, OH: Times 10.

Hedge, T. (1993). Key concepts in ELT. ELT Journal, 47, 275–277.

About Erin Knoche Laverick

Erin Knoche Laverick
Erin Knoche Laverick is the former director of an intensive English program in which she designed curricula for adult learners. She is the current campus dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
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3 Responses to Project-Based Learning to Promote Language Skill Development: A Sample Reflection Project

  1. Tricia says:

    Thank you for sharing this great language skill strategy idea! Project Based learning is such a powerful way to connect to all of our students, especially EL students, by exposing them to more opportunities to build language development and showcase their critical thinking abilities in an environment that is centered around the students. I think what is so relevant here is that Project Based learning allows students to showcase their knowledge that best caters to that child’s learning style. It can easily be implemented with any age group (K-12 grade). This authentic learning project is what more of our EL students need to continue developing their language acquisition and academic language.

  2. Tricia says:

    Project Based learning provides an authentic and engaging way to promote students’ learning process and helps to connect to a student’s best mode of learning style, which is important for all students especially EL students. By having the students work in a student-centered environment, EL students can build language acquisition and be exposed to academic language. As educators, we are looking for ways to build our students’ language skills in a process that is engaging and encourages their critical thinking abilities. Project Based learning also allows educators to scaffold the learning so that students are able to work through the learning process. I like how this post touches on the point that project based learning can be used for assessment reflection which a more authentic way to evaluate a student’s learning compared to traditional assignments that can be challenges for EL students to complete due to academic language and language barriers.

  3. Cheryl Chen says:

    Interesting rubric. Would you assign percentage/weight to each category?