Project-Based Learning: A Quicker and More Authentic Way to Learn English
I wanted to share a highly effective strategy for learning English -- Project-Based Learning is an approach to education that focuses on Real-World experience and doing / making things instead of tests and homework.
There are numerous variations to how Project-Based Learning can be experienced, but the main idea is that students use critical thinking and creative-problem solving to create work for an authentic community partner or audience.
As an example, rather than studying from a book and taking tests, students can create a YouTube vlog that shows a day in their life from morning to evening. The teacher and student could design a list of key vocabulary, grammatical structures, and pronunciation goals for the student to incorporate into the video, and then the student would create the video and share it online / post it to social media, etc. Another example is for students to work with their teacher to create English announcements and infographics to be posted online for a local English speaking meetup group.
The pedagogy of Project-Based Learning is intended to prepare students for the workforce of the 21st Century, which does not have extensive use for rote memorization and mechanical task rabbits, but instead requires creative problem solving and self-initiative. Although many ESL learners are in fact preparing for tests, research continues to show that Project-Based Learning is a more effective approach to creating an engaging and meaningful learning environment that is more conducive to 21st Century results than passive regurgitation of facts and rules.
I have been teaching at an internationally renowned Project-Based Learning school in California for the last two years, and have seen firsthand the tremendous possibility for authentic learning that this approach can facilitate; several of the students currently in my class are ESL learners from cultures as diverse as East Africa, North Africa and Latin America, and I have seen rapid growth in their abilities to not only learn the English language but to take charge of their own education and "learn how to learn:.
For anyone interested in a more progressive and growth-mindset oriented approach to learning a language or anything else, consider researching Project-Based Learning and seeing if it's something that might enhance your classroom experience as a learner or educator.