I am the Fourth guest teacher in the site as you have already read in the welcome greetings on the front page

Hello dear colleagues! 

I am the Fourth guest teacher in
the site as you have already read in the welcome greetings on the front page. If
you would like to know a bit more about teaching in my country, Argentina, I
invite you to read my interview with Teaching English. There I also explain
about my interest in developing different innovative projects with my students
along the academic year. I have found a very interesting link in the Teaching
English Website that explains about advantages and disadvantages in organizing
projects with adolescents and I would like to analyse my students’ projects in
the light of the theory presented by this article. For a complete reference to
it you can go to the following link:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/project-work-with-teenagers

by
Lynn Gallacher, British Council, Spain (2004) 

In it the author
analyses possible advantages and disadvantages of organising projects with
adolescent students. In the case of the first project I organised with my
students, it was related to work with values and in this special case the value
of Care for ourselves and others. We read some material about UNICEF, worked
with vocabulary and discussed about different organisations that did a similar
work in Tucuman, our province and also in the
whole country. Departing from this point, we discussed about different outcomes
the project might have and agreed that the final product should be exposed
during the Students’ Week in September. They were also going to participate in
a national contest organised by Pearson Longman Argentina. Among the possibilities
of displaying their work that we discussed about I can mention: displaying
posters about charity campaigns, a raffle to obtain money to help poor children
near school, a newspaper article or an interview about charity campaigns
carried out by teachers or students at school, a website and a metro flog page
in order to increase awareness about poverty and hunger in our country and the
world. 

The advantages I found during the work in order of importance are
the following:

  • A context was established
    which provided us with an authentic to topic to talk about and as a starting
    point to organise our project. Haines (1989)
  • Increased motivation was evident because
    learners became personally involved in the project.
  • Authentic tasks were proposed and
    therefore the language input was more authentic.
  • Cross-curricular connections because we
    checked concepts and information with teachers from other subjects like
    History, Religion and Computer Studies.
  • A
    break from routine was very beneficial because it offered us the chance to do
    something different and we all enjoyed that.
  • All four skills, reading, writing,
    listening and speaking were integrated and practised.
  • Autonomous learning was promoted as learners became responsible for finding
    their resources, materials, information and became more responsible of their
    learning.
  • There were learning outcomes
    that could be displayed at school and could be sent to participate in the
    national contest.
  • Interpersonal relations
    were developed through working as a group. Among the disadvantages I could
    observe the following: 
  • Learners used their
    own language which was inevitable as they all speak the same L1, but the
    importance of the topic dealt with and the tasks proposed outweigh this factor.
  • Use of translators on line which many of the
    groups did in order to find help to write phrases in English. However the
    problems caused by this practice were solved with corrections I carried out
    personally with each group.
  • Some learners doing
    nothing in spite of the fact that most of the students worked hard, there were
    some who did very little, because of internal problems in the groups, or simply
    lack of interest. This behaviour is expected from some more problematic
    students but a way to solve it is careful planning, division of roles and work
    and constant prising of the work accomplished so as to re-cycle motivation.
  • Groups that worked at different paces were
    expected to appear in these numerous groups, therefore some final works were
    finished at different times, and that included working extra hours outside
    English classes.
    Adapted from Gallacher, L. (2004)

These might be only some of
the advantages and disadvantages found when doing project work with our
students. I would like other colleagues to comment about any other aspects they
might have found in their own experiences! In subsequent entries I will be
discussing the actual project entries produced by the students. I will also
like to read any other comments you might like to do as regards the topic, as
well as any questions you would like to ask.

Kind regards from Argentina
Paula
Bello

 

Comments

Dear Paula

I found your description of project work quite interesting. I would like to share my own experience with project work. Working with students of different abilities and interests, project work appears to be a good methodlogy of teaching and learning. What I have observed can be summarised as follows: project work helps in making the learner independent ,which, I believe, is the main objective of education. It bulids in some confidence in the learner ,that he/ she can do something. It promotes creativity. It helps in developing team spirit. If the work involves interviewing, meeting people to collect information, etc, the learner gets an opportunity of using and refining his/her communication skills.14 

Harsh    

Hello Dear Harsh;

How nice to read from you! Nice to meet you. Thanks for your comments. You are very right when you say that project works help students develop autonomy and creativity. I was really amazed at my students' great ideas to develop their project on values! One of the groups wanted to organize a lotto at school so as to raise money to help children in need by buying food for a special group of poor children who are given meals at a small church near school. It is true that some of these ideas would take a larger amount of time and school schedules do not help us in that respect. Definitely I agree with you when you say that by working with projects we are trusting in our students, in their ability to design, create and solve problems in order to achieve their goals. This is a very inspiring feeling. I am really very proud of my students and their accomplishment, because they belong to a group in which the great majority of students have a low level in English proficiency as well as learning problems. Thanks for writing!

Kind regards,

Paula

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