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|
- 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 the progress report is discussed every lesson with the teacher in English.
- Reading. The course syllabus contains materials and examples the students have to study. Teams may do background research for their short film.
- Reading and writing. Students write the short film main idea, outlines and scripts, and correct their work based on written and verbal feedback of their teacher. They fill in the progress report, and a popular vote form is filled in at each presentation. Students may take notes in class.
For a complete overview of the English skills practiced with each task in the short film project look at Tasks versus English Skills.
2. Higher order thinking skills (Bloom). Working in projects not only develops simple thinking skills like recalling, comprehending or applying what they have learnt, but also more advanced skills like analysing, synthesising and evaluating information. In the short film project students practice for example:
- expressing their opinion through tasks like criticising their own presentations on video and selecting the best presentation
- organising their work by dividing the work and making a planning
- making decisions on how to do the work
- taking responsibility for the work they committed to
- solving problems that may come up during the project and
- working systematically doing tasks step by step in a logical sequence towards the pre-defined goal
3. Creativity. When students are doing a creative task it enhances the students' motivation. They are having fun and don't see the work as study. Also, students who are not good at the language still have a chance to shine during creative processes in the project like drawing the outline, setting up the film set and editing the film in the short film project.
4. Use of technology. In the short film project students learn how to record a film, edit it with film-editing software, type their scripts in MS Word and prepare their presentations in PowerPoint. The use of technology is another big motivator for the students.
5. Social skills. Working together in teams develops social skills like being patient, helpful and respecting others' opinions.
Bloom, B. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. US: McKay, 1956.