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Project-based learning – or PBL – is an educational approach that involves students in an inquiry and discovery process through the creation of a project or a series of mini-projects.
Project-based learning, whether in the context of English language learning or learning other subjects through English, provides students with a unique opportunity to engage with the language in an authentic and meaningful way, while also developing a range of skills that are essential for success in the 21st century.
At its core, PBL is about allowing students to take ownership of their learning and to investigate topics and themes that are of interest to them.
Learners are encouraged to identify their own questions, problems, or challenges and to work collaboratively to find solutions, rather than being told what to learn and how to learn it.
This method not only promotes a deeper understanding of the subject matter, but it also aids in the development of important skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration.
The opportunity to engage with language in a real-world context is one of the major benefits of PBL for English language learners.
Learners are exposed to the language in meaningful and relevant ways, rather than learning grammar and vocabulary in isolation, through tasks such as conducting research, giving presentations, writing reports, or creating multimedia projects.
This approach promotes the development of language proficiency in a more natural and authentic manner, and it encourages students to use the language creatively and flexibly to communicate their ideas and perspectives.
Aside from language development, PBL has a number of advantages for the development of 21st-century skills.
Students must be able to think critically, solve problems collaboratively, communicate effectively, and adapt to changing circumstances in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.
Through tasks such as brainstorming ideas, planning and organising projects, working collaboratively with peers, giving and receiving feedback, and reflecting on their learning, project-based learning allows students to develop these skills in a meaningful and authentic way.
Learning to learn
Furthermore, project-based learning can support the development of important socio-emotional skills like self-direction, self-regulation, and self-reflection.
Students are encouraged to develop a sense of autonomy and agency by taking ownership of their learning and working on projects that are of personal interest, which can be empowering and motivating.
Learning through English
Project-based learning offers a unique and powerful approach to English language learning and to learning other subjects through English.
By engaging learners in the process of inquiry and discovery, and by providing opportunities for authentic language use and the development of 21st-century skills, project-based learning can help to foster a deeper understanding of the subject matter, as well as develop important competencies that are essential for success in the 21st century.