Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning (PBL) is an alternative approach to teaching English as a foreign language. PBL consists of students working together to solve a real-life problem using their English to do so. Click here to see it in action!
As a teacher with more than 20 years’ experience I have seen the days when teachers had very few materials right through to nowadays when we seem to be overwhelmed with them! Resources like teacher books, course books, work books, exercise books, DVD’s, class CD’s and more! I personally feel that we have lost the idea of what real teaching is and that this one-size-fits-all approach primarily using course books does little to teach what a student really needs.
Moreover, I have seen how teachers do not teach as well as they can as they are restricted by using a course book. I fully understand how there are pros and cons to course book use and some teachers like them as do students, but in my experience using them can waste a lot of time and cause a lot of frustration for both the teacher and the student.
Perhaps an example is needed: recently in a class I had a student who commented that he was enjoying his classes but he was frustrated as he had spent one week looking at the use of the third conditional and one week looking at reported speech. In private he told me that he was not interested in what was for him “advanced grammar” as he did not really use this in his first language and he was not sure how useful it was to him. I must admit I had to agree. So in many ways he had wasted his two weeks here when really he might have learnt much more by not using a course book which just happened to be focusing on those grammar points when he arrived. What this student really needed was much more practice on the basics but that is not what he did.
PBL couldn’t be more different than following a course book. For a start PBL begins with the students themselves as they decide on the topic of the project together and as a group, but with the teacher’s help, they have to explore and come up with a solution. By doing this they practise and improve these skills:
- increased creativity
- increased levels of student engagement
- more relevant language work
- personal and social responsibility
- planning, critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity
- strong communication skills, both for interpersonal and presentation needs
- cross-cultural understanding
- visualizing and decision making
- knowing how and when to use technology and choosing the most appropriate tool for the task
Some students might see this approach as very refreshing and others might think they prefer using a normal course book. Here at English in Liverpool we are happy to use a course book with you but before you arrive we will work with you to understand what you really need to do while you are studying with us. We will not place you in any group who have been following a course book and where you may feel that the work they cover is not relevant for you.
Finally, we think that course books can be useful and in the hands of a skilled teacher they can be great tools but by and large we strongly believe that many students waste their time and do not reach their full potential if they use one. We believe it is high time for a change and here at English in Liverpool we are striving to make that change happen. At the end of the day, teachers and students deserve better and we invite you to join us on this amazing journey and come to Liverpool and experience for yourself Project-Based Learning!
We look forward to meeting you soon!