Hello and welcome to Projects!
The activities we, in Canada, take for granted may be mystifying for newcomers. Concepts such as shopping (ei: buying and selling) are global but the cultural interactions and language nuances are different all over the world. Learning English is hard enough for newcomers, but when you add in the variations and subtleties within the language plus the difficulty of adapting to a new culture and home, a new level of confusion sets in! One way to create an excellent language base and exhibit real life skills is to create an environment that replicates a specific experience. This can be achieved through creative, task-based projects.
About the author: Marie Frankovitch is currently teaching English in the LINC program in Edmonton and she teaches the 20-hour TEFL course offered by TEFL Workshops in Edmonton. Marie completed the 250-hour TESOL Diploma with Practicum offered by OnTESOL. She will be writing a blog series on how to use Project Based Learning to teach English to adult newcomers to Canada with the LINC program.
Integrating Communication Skills in Project Based Learning
Projects are a fun way to inspire your students to learn and use English in their everyday lives. Each project incorporates listening, reading, writing and speaking, and each step can be used as a building block towards an assessment. Projects are a great way to teach team work. The teacher needs to be engaged in and committed to the process so that the students can envision the outcome and are inspired to work towards the end goal.
A project theme can be based on a statutory holiday (Canada Day), a current event (an election) or an every day event (shopping). Valentine’s Day, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day are very popular celebratory days in Canada and make excellent choices for projects. Every day events that students can identify with (shopping, house cleaning and home safety) are also good theme choices. The important aspect is the new language to be learned and used in context of the theme. The depth of the project (detail and expectations) can easily be adapted to the level/abilities of the students.
Some basic points to keep in mind:
- Consult school administration: permission may be required depending on what your project entails.
- Curriculum: the project has to be level appropriate and may need to follow or incorporate specific formats. You may need to ensure conformity to the guidelines. The less stringent the guidelines, the more lenient the project framework.
- Resources: what is available and what is needed? Consider if additional costs will be incurred.
- Timelines: time available versus how much time is required. Is the program full-time or part-time? How many hours are available per day?
- Will other teachers be on board? Will consideration be given for assessment opportunities? Most importantly…are the students excited and inspired?
Keep in mind that fun and learning go hand-in-hand…. why not create a fun project?