Projects in the English Class: a Break to Foster Immersion

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One of the biggest difficulties teachers face as the end of the year approaches is deciding on tasks that will result in evidence of their students’ progress and of whether they have accomplished the subject goals (or competencies). As we steer away from traditional assessment methods such as exams, an alternative that should definitely be considered is project work.

These are some suggestions that can be considered if we decide to carry out project work in this closing stage of the year:

Find opportunities for cross-curricular projects

While planning for the closing stages, it would be a very interesting idea to discuss with colleagues teaching other subjects in order to find opportunities for joint projects where students can receive input and produce output in English, while, at the same time, using and demonstrating knowledge of the other subjects. If a project is not feasible, another option could be to use topics from other subjects and adapt the foreign language project to these topics.

Consider three stages of development

As with other class activities, the project should include a ‘pre’ stage, where the aim needs to be identified, relevant materials compiled, and students’ roles assigned.

During the project, it is a teacher’s responsibility to foster students’ spontaneity and readiness to solve problems that they may encounter during the project; for example, what could be done if a student who is part of a class play falls ill and is unable to continue. It is important to monitor the process so that students do not rush into creating the final product –which often results in malpractice, such as using machine translation, scripting and unnatural recitation of presentations, and the like.

After the project has ended, it is also very important to provide students with chances to carry out self-evaluation and peer assessment. This should provide teachers with valuable input to contrast with the evidence produced throughout the year, and to identify points that may need to be addressed the following year. In relation to feedback, it should be given neither immediately nor with considerable delay –- some thought has to be given to the points to include in order to prevent creating anxiety among students.

Have fun!

A project, when properly steered, is a welcome change from the traditional classroom dynamics. And if it does tap into the students’ interests and context, it should be a source of fun -but focused on a single goal: to reflect how much our students have internalized throughout the year.

Now it’s your turn

Share with us any experience your students have had concerning projects in the English class

 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 10 seconds

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