Project Based Learning – summary of #ELTchat in June 2018

A PLN for ELT Professionals

Project Based Learning – summary of #ELTchat in June 2018

The summary was written by Khalil Zakari – @kzakari on Twitter – and is reproduced here with his kind permission


“Project-Based Learning” deservingly got the top vote on suggested topics list (June, 11th, 2018) @ELTchat.

The chat started with a series of suggested tentative definitions of and thought-provoking questions about PBL as a formative assessment tool.

English  language  educators have  been exploring  and exploiting the tradition of  project work since the mid-seventies when  ELT married  principles of learner-centredness, learner autonomy and task-based learning.

Project-based learning is as a variable  tool to fully integrate language and content learning for teachers working in a variety of instructional settings.

Project  work  is “an approach to  learning  which  complements mainstream methods and which can be used with almost all levels, ages and abilities of students” (Haines 1989:1).

“To me, PBL is more or less TBL at a higher scale with the more extended time given to students. Just wondering how it can be suitable for lower/beginner levels?”.  (@Shujaat_English)

“It would seem to me that you would just have to scale the project and language demands to their level. Or, if they are monolingual, let them use L1 alongside English”. (@AlphabetPublish)

“Yes. Just what I was thinking. But maybe our 3/4 week teens could do it in the  summer school”. (@Marisa_C)

“To evaluate or not to evaluate students’ project work?” was the question which has so far elicited more than three dozens Re-tweets on

There was much food-for-thought in the ensuing discussion, one must confess.

“Students’ project work, being a formative alternative assessment tool is best assessed as a process rather than as an end-product. There is need for a teacher-tailored checklist to use in order to assess and/or evaluate each and every step the project has gone through, namely, the selection of the topic, the brainstorming/mind-mapping task which helps generate main ideas, the search for and selection of relevant information to use, the mode of preparation and delivery, the target audience ‘s feedback and the washback effect of the project”.


Why Project-based learning?

► Motivation is increased

► All four skills are integrated

► Autonomous learning is promoted

► Tasks and language input are authenticauthentic

► Interpersonal relations are developed

► Content and methodology are negotiated

Image supplied by summary writer

 Role of the Teacher

►Language Consultant



►Resource Provider


Characteristics of a Successful Project

► Open-mindedness, respect for evidence

►Contribution and participation by each and every individual in the project

►Group work requiring co-operation and development of interpersonal and collaborative    collaborative skills

Assessing a Project

Why assess?

  • To improve the quality of the learning and teaching process
  • What to assess?
  • Not just the end product
  • Pupils’ performance throughout the process e.g. their understanding of the topic, grasp of new knowledge and skills, dedication to the project, cooperation with others, etc.
  • Who and whom to assess?
  • Teacher assessing students
  • Peer assessment

Some Possible Drawbacks of  Project Work

► Learners using their own language .. If the class are monolingual they may use their L1.

► Some learners doing nothing … By giving more freedom to the learners you may also be giving them the freedom to do nothing!

► Groups working at different speeds. One group may have ‘finished’ the project after a couple of hours and say they have nothing to do.

Allocating Time: 

“I don’t think my students stay around long enough to get involved in PBL”

“Just what I was thinking. But maybe our 3/4 week teens could do it in the summer school” @SueAnnan

While group assignments may save instructors time in some areas (e.g., grading final projects), they may add time in other areas (e.g., time needed up front to identify appropriate project topics, contact external clients, compose student groups; time during the semester to meet with and monitor student groups; time at the end of the semester to ascertain the contributions of individual team members.)



►Haines, S., 1989. Projects for the EFL1989. Projects for the EFL classroom London:

►Henry, J, 1994.1994. Teaching throughTeaching through projects. London: Kogan Page Limited.projects.

►Papandreou, A, 1994. An application of the projects approach to EFL. English Teaching Forum, 32, 3, pp.41-42.

About the summary writer

Kahlil Zakari – @kzakari is a Teacher Tainer/ Supervisor working in Morocco