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Государственное образовательное учреждение высшего профессионально образования
«Уральский государственный педагогический университет»
Институт иностранных языков
в методике преподавания
Инновационные технологии в методике преподавания иностранного языка: метод проектов: материалы первого регионального семинара/ Урал. гос. пед. ун-т. – Екатеринбург, 2007 – 92 с.
В сборник вошли тексты докладов, прозвучавших на первом региональном семинаре, посвященном использованию метода проектов в преподавании английского языка, проходившем на базе Уральского государственного университета осенью 2006 года, а также статьи участников семинара, посвященные инновациям в методике.
Преподавателям английского языка средних школ и вузов.
Ответственные за проведение семинара и выпуск:
Т.Н. Осинцева, В.В. Новикова
Е.В. Гилева, Ю.Е. Макарова
Лицей № 110
Project Work in English Teaching Practice
Learning a language is a very long hard process. It goes without saying that motivation is a key factor in successful language learning, but even the most motivated students can lose interest and energy during their English language studies. Learning how to teach English or how to help our students learn it effectively may be even harder. During any teaching process some lessons are more successful than the others, sometimes things don’t go as expected, and a teacher may be satisfied or not with his students’ results and the lesson itself. For this reason he is constantly searching for those coursebooks, methods and techniques that can help him to make the learning process meaningful, purposeful and motivated for students, set conditions for optimal development of personalities, help his learners to be better prepared for effective communication in the real world outside.
We believe that one of the ways that can help teachers is the applying of project work in the learning process.
Project work captures better than any other activity the two principal elements of a communicative approach. These are:
We could add to these a third element:
A foreign language can often seem a remote and unreal thing. This has a negative effect on motivation, because the students do not see the language as relevant to their own lives. If learners are going to become real language users, they must learn that English is not only used for talking about things British or American, but can be used to talk about their own world.
The purpose of learning a foreign language is to make communication between two cultures possible. English, as an international language, should not be just for talking about the ways of the English-speaking world. It should also be a means of telling the world about your own culture. Project work helps to create this approach. With project work the language acts as a bridge enabling two cultures to communicate with each other.
Project work helps to bridge this relevance gap: integration of language with other skills. Firstly, project work helps to integrate the foreign language into the network of the learners’ own communicative competence. It creates connections between the foreign language and the learners’ own world. It encourages the use of a wide range of communicative skills, enables learners to exploit other spheres of knowledge, and provides opportunities for them to write about the things that are important in their own lives.
For the first time we came across project work in 1998 when we took part in the pioneering project of teaching English using the authentic course “World Class” by Longman publishers. Projects are included in the structure of this textbook, so we had an opportunity of their real classroom experience.
In lyceum 110 for several years already we have been using in teaching English different levels of another authentic course “Opportunities” by Longman publishers. Though projects are not included in the structure of this course we use them systematically as a supplementary activity, because the advantage of this learner-centered method is evident: it pushes the students up to the new level of proficiency.
We suggest our students projects not for every model but try to choose those ones relating to the students’ own environment, family life, problems of the youth. Because it is such a personal experience, the meaning and the presentation of the project are important for the learners. They will thus put a lot of effort into getting it right and also invest a lot of themselves in their project.
Once started, the project becomes a world in its own right. The sequence of events is flexible and both a teacher and students are involved in making decisions throughout. Steps, time-span, product and process are, of course, pre-planned in teacher’s mind, but not totally predetermined.
So, while a project has a pre-planned beginning and end, it is usually so rich in possibilities that exploring all its side-avenues can turn it into a real ‘Never-ending Story’. Factors such as group dynamics, level of interest, difficulty and relevance will all influence our decision to stay on the chosen way, to take a shortcut the process or to slow it down and spend extra time on a certain stage.
Project work, like other activity-based learning processes, tends to be creative and engaging. The projects are very creative both in terms of content and language. However, language learning requires more than that. Therefore, we need tasks that are not only challenging in terms of content but also in terms of language. Each project is a unique piece of communication, created by the project writers themselves.
From our point of view any project work may be roughly divided into three main stages: preparatory, processing itself and presentation.
First, at the beginning of the selected module we try to motivate our students by the theme of future project work. Brainstorming is helpful on this stage to elicit the problems that participants of the project are expected to solve. We outline, discuss, formulate the objectives, plan possible ways through the project.
It is very often a group work, so the students are divided into creative groups with 3-4 students in each one (according to their desire).
The aim of this stage is to elicit from the students the idea that will become the basis of their projects.
While planning their activities (research, data collecting, production, etc.) students will need information and a language model for their oral interaction and written output.
Input should be provided throughout the project. These can be mono- and bilingual dictionaries, grammar, practice exercises, etc., but input will have to be relevant to the information and language needs of the project.
At the next stage project groups are working out their works: they set up the structure, discuss, make decisions, distribute roles, search for relevant information and facts using different material such as textbooks, newspapers and magazines, reference books, encyclopedias, mass media, the Internet.
It is essential that students select, analyze, sort, summaries and organize the information and the necessary language for product creation and project presentation. Furthermore, they also do some research work on this stage. So, processing refers both to language and content. Language processing is a step on the way towards language command. These processes are set in motion by the need to understand language and produce it.
At last, the most meaningful for learners last stage comes - that is presentation of their projects. While working on a module we offer presentation of project works as the final, summarizing task after the material of it has been processed. In this case the learners are provided with the basic tools for doing their project.
Many language features and components (lexical, grammatical, functional) may be used directly from input materials, some language areas need specific treatment in the classroom.
This final stage is a real event. Groups have worked so hard, they have tried to do their best and be creative. Each group’s work should be like a mini-project within the macro-structure of the more general class project. There may be different forms of presentation. In our practice, for example, students presented TV shows, radio programmes, quizzes, conversations in different places and others. The final output of project works is essential. Our students managed to draw posters, made up tourist guides, photo stories and at present they are mostly fond of doing multi-media projects.
The aim of this stage is to make students aware of what they have achieved. It should generate a feeling of achievement in each student.
Before group presentation we give students “evaluation cards” in order to do assessment and self assessment according to the following criteria: presentation, creativity, efforts.
After presentation of all project works we sum-up, analyze, exchange opinions, evaluate and choose the best project works.
The assessment includes all aspects of the project (content, language, presentation, etc) and also non-linguistic factors such as objectives, effort, creativity, attitude. Not all students are usually fully satisfied with the results of their works because now they realize that it could be better. Nevertheless, all of them feel that they have completed an important stage and enjoy celebrating the end of the project. Each participant has become more motivated, confident and autonomous after working on his project. Moreover, the students are aware that with the skills they have acquired they are ready to start a new creative work.
So, a project is an extended piece of work on a particular topic where the content and the presentation are determined principally by the learners. The teacher or the textbook provides the topic, but the project writers themselves decide what they write and how they present it.
While doing the projects the teacher adjusts to the new role which, amongst many other things, is that of initiator, planner/co-planner, provider of thematic and language input, self-access materials, language explanations and corrections, promoter of group co-operation and an appropriate atmosphere, helper, consultant and evaluator/co-evaluator.
Therefore, this effective communicative method can help any teacher and students to make the learning process more successful and effective.
It should be noted that this is a universal method that can be easily integrated into the frames of different courses.
Project work is a highly adaptable methodology. It can be used at every level from absolute beginner to advanced and with all ages.
With junior students we do so-called “creative works”. Our pupils design “Kid-books” on various themes, invent poems and riddles, do projects on “Families”, “Pets”, “My Day Off”. Students created printed and electronic versions of “The book of recipes”.
As for senior students is concerned, they have prepared and presented their projects on such problems as:
The form of presentation depends on the topic. For example, our students presented a radio and TV talk -shows, interviews, magazines and role-playings.
The final output of the project, which has to be produced by all means, took various forms, including posters, advertisements, wall-newspapers, tourist guides, slides, photo stories.
Now we have got some albums that are the products of project work as, for example, “Outstanding people of the world”, “Famous sportsmen of the world”, “The place where we live”, “Reference book on regional geography” (about cities of the world).
Now our students are fond of doing more complicated multi-media projects. They are, for example:
Using projects systematically in practice for several years already gives us the right to say that they make the process of education more successful and effective. Moreover, we know that teachers who have experimented with projects, usually marvel at the results and wonder how they could ever have done without it.
The benefits that projects bring to the process of learning are evident. They increase motivation and create a sense of achievement and confidence in the students. They focus on the students’ independent work and therefore provide self-education and research work. They develop different kinds of skills; provide language and skill integration and authentic framework for classroom activity. Projects develop imagination, talents and capabilities. Based on cooperation among learners, this student-centered method provides the development of not only interpersonal relationship but individual as well.
To sum up, from our point of view, project work in teaching English is extremely helpful and necessary for modern education.
Just try to introduce projects in your own classroom and we are sure that you will find it a rich and rewarding experience both for your students and for yourself!
МОУ СОШ № 215
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