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Language input through project-based learning (My IATEFL 2015 presentation)

April 17, 2015

This year I gave a presentation at IATEFL Manchester on the topic of Project-Based Learning. This draws heavily on some of the work my colleagues and I have been doing at West College Scotland in developing our full-time ESOL programmes. If you click on the link below, it should take you to the powerpoint slides that I used at the conference, along with my audio commentary. Please feel free to leave comments.

LI through PBL

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10 Comments
  1. Jennifer permalink

    Couldn’t download it – maybe too big with the audio!

  2. steveoakes99 permalink

    I downloaded no problem… it’s 412MB and the audio makes it slow to load but it will, and it’s worth it. Steve, just a suggestion, if more people have problems downloading you could convert it to PDF (but lose the audio), to WMV (and keep the audio), or alternatively put it on authorstream.com (which I haven’t used but heard about and it seems compatible with this sort of ‘situation’).

  3. Or try recording it on Brainshark, and embedding the link/video on your website?

  4. Sorry, Jennifer – it is massive right enough. I’ll leave it up here just now but I clearly need to familiarise myself with some uploading techniques that I don’t know about yet. Thanks Steve and Sophia (it is Sophia, isn’t it?) for your suggestions.
    Steve

  5. I’m very eager to watch this, have tried on mobile devices to no avail and my laptop is now patiently downloading it. I’m wondering whether putting it on vimeo (though I’ve never done that myself so don’t really know) might help.

    • Hi Patrick,
      Sorry you are having problems with this. I will look into other platforms so it is more easily acessible.
      Steve

  6. Mike Chick permalink

    Really interesting presentation Steve – many thanks for sharing your experience and understanding of language learning and teaching. Your “analytic focus on form” approach makes sense in the context of survival English for refugees and asylum seekers in ESOL contexts in Wales, too.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks, I’m glad it makes sense in your context as well. As you have pointed out, our approach is heavily influenced by the kinds of things that Jane Willis and others have written about regarding focus on form as opposed to focus on forms (i.e. atomistic structures).
      I wanted to convey the idea that project-based learning needn’t be confined to a narrow range of contexts. I think that it is an ideal framework within which to apply some widely accepted principles about language acquisition and effective teaching practice, which could (possibly) be implemented anywhere.
      Best wishes,
      Steve

  7. Charles Cornelius permalink

    Thanks for uploading the presentation. Really interesting. I think there’s a lot of overlap here with usage-based language learning theory, which argues that language form and language meaning emerge out of language use. There’s a good description of it by Michael Tomasello here: http://www.princeton.edu/~adele/LIN_106:_UCB_files/Tomasello-BavinChapter09.pdf

    Also I’m a big fan of Pauline Gibbons who (working in the context of mainstream education with second language learners in Australia) suggests using teacher-guided reporting, which is basically all about students verbally reporting back on their projects with the teacher feeding in and reformulating their language as they do it (acting as a kind of linguistic bridge), leading from behind.

    I’m teaching young learners at my school and am trying to do more project-based learning, partly as a way of avoiding using our assigned coursebook, English In Mind, which seems to consider learning English as an endless series of filling in blanks, and uses texts simply as a way of smuggling in grammar.

    • Hi Charles,
      Thanks for your comment and for drawing my attention to the work of Gibbons and Tomasello – I’ll look into their work more closely.
      I also see project-based learning as a meaningful and more effective alternative to coursebook-based learning. In my workplace it’s also appropriate as a means of creating scenarios for students to reflect on, thereby developing critical thinking skills at the same time. The development of such skills seems to be becoming increasingly important so we’re looking at ways to introduce this at very low levels.
      Steve

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