Project WorkLearning outcomesProject ideasFAQShort film project: OverviewScopePlanningPreparationFinalising and follow-upEvaluationLessons: 123456789101112131415Deliverables: Main ideaProgress reportOutline ScriptReferencesPowerPointPortfolio
A practical guide to running a successful 30-hour (15-lesson) short film project in English with (pre-)intermediate students: planning, lessons, evaluation, deliverables, samples and experiences, plus ideas for other projects.

Project Overview (Short Film Project)

simplified overview
Purpose. Produce a short film in the target language. Note: the project could be done in ANY LANGUAGE, not just English.

Process. The script for the film is produced step-by-step. After the students select their topic they write the main idea, then the outline and finally go through a cycle of writing drafts

Project Scope (Short Film Project)

Students. Students are older teenagers or adults and are at an (pre-)intermediate English level. They work in teams of 4. Class size should not exceed 25-30 students (6-7 teams) in order to have enough teacher-team talking time.

Teachers. The project can be run with one teacher, but I have often had the pleasure of working together with a (Thai) teaching partner. A second teacher is especially useful

Project Planning (Short Film Project)

project plan
This short film project is set up for 15 2-hour lessons, so a total of around 30 hours of class time. Preparation and finalising take around 4 and 3 weeks respectively.

This planning is a guideline, and some flexibility is required. Classes get cancelled,

Prepare the Project (Short Film Project)

Select the classroom(s). The ideal project classroom has groups of tables. There is a projector and the teacher computer is fitted with MS Office and a video-editing program like Ulead VideoStudio. Each team has access to 1-2 computers with the same software during part (not all!) of the lessons.

In our most recent project we ended up using different locations

Lesson 1 Start Up Project

teams brainstorm
Introduce project. Teacher introduces project, distributes syllabus.

Select team. (Milestone) Team selected. Students select their teams of 4 members (or 3/5 if the number is odd) and sit down together.

Select team name (1/2). Select topic(1/2). Write short film main idea (1/2). The teams brainstorm and select their team name and short film topic. They have 2 lessons to make their decision.

How to write progress report. Teacher instructs the students on when and how to fill in the progress report (PR). Once they have decided on their topic, teams write down the main idea of their short film on the back of the PR.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 2 Write Outline

teams discuss PR with teacher
Select team name (2/2). (Milestone) Team name selected. Teams make a final decision on their name and write down the selected team name as team comments / decisions.

Select topic (2/2). Write short film main idea. (Milestone) Short film topic selected, short film main idea written down. Teams make a final decision on their main idea and write down the short film topic as team comments / decisions. Once they have decided on their topic, teams write down the main idea of their short film on the back of the PR.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves team name, topic and main idea.

How to write an outline. Write short film outline (1/2). Teacher instructs the students on how to write the short film outline. Teams start writing the outline of their short film. They have 2 lessons to write the outline.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR and outline-in-process in their portfolio.

Lesson 3 Write Outline

teams write outline
How to write references. How to use quotations, paraphrase, summary, copyright. Class discussion and exercises on how to write references and  how to use quotations, paraphrase, summary, copyright.

Write short film outline (2/2). (Milestone) Short film outline ready. Teams finish writing the outline of their short film. If used, they write references on a separate A4.

Prepare to present short film outline. Teams select 2 members to present the outline in the next lesson. There is NO score for this presentation. The other 2 members present the project progress presentation later. All members help prepare the presentation.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves outline.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, outline (and A4 with references) in their portfolio.

Lesson 4 Present Outline

2 team members present outline
Present short film outline. How to present: personal skills. Select best presenter and graphics. 2 members of each team present their short film outline. The presentations are recorded on video for later viewing. Halfway presentations there is a class discussion on personal skills important for a good presentation and presenters receive brief feedback on their personal skills from their peers and teacher. Students select best presenter and best graphics. After tallying the teacher hands out a small prize for the best presenter and the best graphics. There is NO score for this presentation, but detailed feedback is given later together with feedback on the project progress presentation.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Today's presenters also write their reflections on their presentations.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 5 Workshop Record / Edit Film

expert teaches record film
Workshop record/edit film (1/2). Record/edit film team introduction (1/2). During the course of 2 lessons an expert teaches the students how to record and edit a short film. Teams record their own team introduction as a tryout.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 6 Workshop Record / Edit Film

teams record team intro
Workshop record/edit film (2/2). Record/edit film team introduction (2/2). (Milestone) Film team introduction ready. During the course of 2 lessons the students learn how to record and edit a short film. Teams record their own team introduction as a trial.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 7 Write Script

team receives prize popular vote
Present film team introduction. Select best film team introduction. Teams show their film team introduction. Students select best film. After tallying the teacher hands out a small prize for the best film. Teams to keep the film to write on DVD later.

How to present: visual aids. Class discussion on the use of visual aids in a presentation and detailed discussion on the use of PowerPoint.

Prepare to present project progress (1/2). The 2 members that did not present the outline are going to present the project progress. All members help prepare the presentation with PowerPoint. The teams have 2 lessons to prepare the presentation.

How to write a script. Write short film scripts (1/5). Teacher instructs the students on how to write the short film script. Teams start writing the script of their short film by hand. 

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves film team introduction.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 8 Write Script, Record / Edit Film

teams write script first draft by hand
How to present: English for presentations. Class discussion on English expressions to be used for presentations.

Prepare to present project progress (2/2). (Milestone) Presentation project progress PowerPoint ready. All members help prepare the presentation with PowerPoint.

Write short film scripts (2/5). Teams correct the mistakes made in the previous lesson's script and type a new draft in MS Word. Teams also start writing new scene(s) of their film by hand.

Record/edit short film (1/5). Teams start recording the parts of the scripts that were approved after verifying the pronunciation with the teacher. Recording is done outside class. They have 5 lessons to record and edit the film. If used, they write references on a separate A4.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves PowerPoint.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, (A4 with references) and corrected draft scripts in their portfolio.

Lesson 9 Present Project Progress

2 team members present progress
Present project progress. Select best presentation. 2 members of each team present their project progress with a PowerPoint presentation. The presentations are recorded on video for later viewing. Students comment on every presentation and select the best one. After tallying the teacher hands out a small prize for the best presentation. PowerPoint presentations are handed in to be commented on by the teacher.

Write short film scripts (3/5). Teams correct the mistakes made in the previous lesson's script and type a new draft in MS Word. Teams also start writing new scene(s) of their film by hand.

Record/edit short film (2/5). After practising the pronunciation with the teacher in class, teams start recording the parts of the scripts that were approved by the teacher. Recording is done outside class. In class they can edit the scenes they recorded earlier.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Today's presenters also write their reflections on their presentations.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, corrected drafts and final (approved) scripts in their portfolio.

Lesson 10 Feedback Presentation

teams receive presentation feedback
Feedback presentation project progress and outline. Teams watch part of the video of their project progress and outline presentations with the teacher and criticise themselves and each other. Teacher gives feedback on the presentation, and informs them of their score. The teacher also returns the corrected PowerPoint presentation.

Write short film scripts (4/5). Teams correct the mistakes in made in the previous lesson's script and type a new draft in MS Word. Teams also start writing new scene(s) of their film by hand.

Record/edit short film (3/5). After practising the pronunciation with the teacher in class, teams start recording the parts of the scripts that were approved by the teacher. Recording is done outside class. In class they can edit the scenes they recorded earlier.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, printed PowerPoint with teacher comments, corrected drafts and final (approved) scripts in their portfolio.

Lesson 11 Write Script, Record / Edit Film

teams record film
Write short film scripts (5/5). (Milestone) Short film script ready. Teams correct the mistakes made in the previous lesson's script and type a final draft in MS Word. The script should now be ready. If used, write references on a separate A4.

Record/edit short film (4/5). After practising the pronunciation with the teacher in class, teams start recording the parts of the scripts that were approved by the teacher. Recording is done outside class. In class they can edit the scenes they recorded earlier.

Prepare to present short film and self-reflections. All team members start preparing to present their self-reflections with a PowerPoint presentation, and their short film. The film should be ready for the next lesson.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves script.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, (A4 with references), corrected drafts and final (approved) scripts in their portfolio.

Lesson 12 Record / Edit Film

teams edit film
Record/edit short film (5/5). (Milestone) Short film ready. Teams finish editing their short film. The film should be ready for the next lesson. Titles and credits can be added later. If used, they write references on a separate A4.

Prepare to present short film and self-reflections. (Milestone) Presentation self-reflections PowerPoint ready. All team members finish preparing to present their self-reflections with a PowerPoint presentation and their short film.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Teacher approves PowerPoint.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR, (A4 with references), and PowerPoint in their portfolio.

Lesson 13 Present Film and Self-reflections

teams present self-reflections
Present short film and self-reflections. Select best short film. Teams present their self-reflections with a PowerPoint presentation. The presentations are recorded on video for later viewing. Students select best film. After tallying the teacher hands out a small prize for the best film.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English. Today's presenters also write their reflections on their presentations. Teacher approves short film.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 14 Feedback Presentation

collected portfolio
Feedback self-reflections and short film presentation. Teams watch part of the video of their presentations with the teacher and criticise themselves and each other. Teacher gives feedback and informs them of their score for the self-reflections presentation.

Write DVD with both films (1/2). Teams write a DVD in proper DVD format containing at least the team introduction and the short film with credits and titles. Other components are optional. They have 2 lessons to write the DVD.

Write progress report. Discuss progress and planning. Teams plan their work, fill in the PR and discuss the report with their teacher in English.

Collect documents in portfolio. Teams collect their PR in their portfolio.

Lesson 15 Finish Project

teams write dvds
Evaluate course (questionnaire). Students fill in the course evaluation form. Teacher leaves the room.

Write DVD with both films (2/2). (Milestone) DVD Ready. Teams hand in a DVD in proper DVD format containing at least the team introduction and the short film with credits and titles. Other components are optional.

Collect documents in portfolio. (Milestone) Portfolio ready. Teams hand in their portfolio.

Finalise the Project and Follow-Up (Short Film Project)

Grade the project work. Teacher grades the scripts, short films and portfolios. The project progress and self-reflections presentations were graded earlier on in the project.

the departmental YouTube channel
Publish the short films. Teacher uploads the short films to (the departmental) YouTube channel (or another web site) and

Evaluate the Project (Short Film Project)

(Teacher) Purpose. Teacher evaluates the students' learning and gives the students feedback.

Process. There are 4 forms to measure each of the 5 important milestones in this project: 2 oral presentations, the script, the film and the portfolio.

1. Presentations. In the project there are 3 oral presentations. The outline presentation by 2 members of each

Progress Report (PR)

progress report
Purpose. Team members take responsibility for their part of the project by reporting on work done and work planned.

Process. After class discussion has clarified the work to be done the teacher hands out a blank PR to each team.

The teams discuss how to divide the work. On the PR each team member writes down what (s)he has done for the project since the previous lesson, and

Short Film Outline

short film outline
Purpose. Teams organise their ideas and write an outline for their short film.

Process. Teams divide their short film into scenes and describe location, actions and topics of the dialogue or narration of each scene in sequence. The actual dialogue or narration is written later in the script, not here. The graphics can be drawings, photos or any other way the teams want to

Short Film Script

final draft script
Purpose. Teams write the script of their short film.

Process. Teams sit together without the distraction of computers and write the first draft of each scene by hand. Not all scenes have to be written at the same time, but

References

references
Purpose. Teams credit copyright owners of materials and information used to produce their films.

Process. When writing the outline, the script, recording and editing the film, preparing the DVD cover etc., the teams write a reference to the original material. The teams follow Modern Language Association (MLA) standards for referencing.

Using parts of original materials owned and copyrighted by others is usually allowed for educational use if

Portfolio

collected portfolio
Purpose. The portfolio supports the learning process of the students and the portfolio allows the teachers to evaluate ALL the work the students have done throughout the term, not only the final product of the work.

Process. Every time the students produce a document in the course they collect it in the portfolio. At the end of the term the portfolio contains:
  1. progress reports
  2. description of the main idea of the short film

Project Work in English Teaching

Remember the satisfaction of a job well done, an event well organised, pride in your performance? This is what language teachers try to achieve with project work.

A project is an extensive task wherein all English skills, subject knowledge, higher level thinking skills and creativity

Learning Outcomes

The most important question is what the students learn. In projects the students not only acquire language, but also improve their higher order thinking skills, express their creativity, use new technology, increase their social skills and possibly learn other subject knowledge.

tasks versus english skills
1. Language. The project gives the students the opportunity to integrate and apply all English skills throughout its activities.
  • Speaking and listening. All lessons are taught in English. The students listen to the teacher and each other, and contribute their knowledge, experience and ideas. Feedback on presentations is verbal, and

Short Films and Other Project Ideas

If you want to do your own English project you can for example let your students produce a short film, web site, blog, tour, quiz show, play, brochure, newspaper or magazine. Have a look at some project samples in the side bar >>> and read our experiences below.

short films
Short Film. Teams produce a 5-10 minute short film about their school, their life or any other topic depending on the scope set

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a project?
A project is an extensive task wherein all English skills, subject knowledge, higher level thinking skills and creativity are combined... Read more »

What do the students learn in a project?
In projects the students not only acquire language, but also improve their higher order thinking skills, express their creativity, use new technology, increase their social skills and possibly learn other subject knowledge... Read more »

How can I make the project work? It looks so complicated.
Theory and practice have reported many challenges in project work, but the solutions to almost every problem are: