Project Work

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Tom Hutchinson

INTRODUCTION TO PROJECT WORK

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WHAT IS A PROJECT ?
What is a project?
The best way to answer this question is to show some examples of projects. The following pieces of project work were done by students aged 11–15 in Slovakia and Hungary.

Project work is not a new methodology. Its benefits have been widely recognized for many years in the teaching of subjects like Science, Geography, and History. Some teachers have also been doing project work in their language lessons for a long time, but for others it is a new way of working. The aim of this booklet is to provide a simple introduction to project work. I shall explain what project work is, what benefits it brings, and how to introduce it into the classroom. I shall also deal with the main worries that teachers have about using project work in their classrooms. The ideas in this booklet are based on the real classroom experience of a large number of teachers and students of English. I hope that after reading it, you too will be encouraged to try project work.

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Here is an example of a very straightforward and popular project: My Favourite Animal. The students choose an animal and write about it. They illustrate the project with pictures (photographs, postcards, etc.).

Project 1

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Projects allow students to use their imagination and the information they contain does not always have to be factual. In this example of a project which required students to introduce themselves and their favourite things, the students pretend they are a horse.

Project 2 by Katorina Pokorná and Klára Kucejová

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One of the great benefits of project work is its adaptability. Here are two examples of the same project task. These two projects on The World were done by students at different levels. The first project is a poem using the simple present tense only. The second project, however, has been done by intermediate level students, who have been able to use a range of different structures.

Project 3a by Megyeri Ildikó and Miklósi Tímea
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Introduction to Project Work

Project 3b

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You can do projects on almost any topic. They can be factual (4) or fantastic (5). Projects can, thus, help to develop the full range of the learners’ capabilities.

Project 4

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Introduction to Project Work

Project 5 by K Hajnovicˇ

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Projects are often done in poster format, but students can also use their imagination to experiment with the form. In Project 6 the student has used her creativity to produce a fashion project entitled This Year’s Fashions in the shape of woman, while in Project 7 the student has been inspired to use the shape of mountains for his presentation on climbing.

Project 6

You will probably also note that project work can produce errors! Project work encourages a focus on fluency. Some errors of accuracy are bound to occur. I shall deal with this important issue on page 18.

Project 7 by Ivica Kukurová

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Introduction to Project Work

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What are the common characteristics of these projects?
Hard work
Each project is the result of a lot of hard work. The authors of the projects have found information about their topic, collected or drawn pictures, written down their ideas, and then put all the parts together to form a coherent presentation. Project work is not a soft option.

A project on Food might involve: • writing recipes • conducting surveys on favourite foods, what people eat for breakfast, etc. • compiling a tourist guide to the restaurants in your town • describing eating habits in your country • finding out about and comparing the diets of rich and poor countries • writing about diet and health

Creative
The projects are very creative in terms of both content and language. Each project is a...
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