К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007
Автор: Кандаурова Е. А.
Search of new pedagogic
technologies is connected with the lack of pupils’ positive motivation in
learning English, though in general the society realizes its importance. This
fact nowadays could be easily explained, if we think over the social problems.
On the one hand, a pupil of
the secondary school understands the importance of getting higher education
(otherwise it’s difficult to be a success in life), but on the other hand, he
realizes the inaccessibility of it for his family. As a rule, a public school
is full of pupils from the usual families of the middle (or even low) income.
Parents are not able to send their children to study abroad even if the child
gets higher education free of charge. These pupils do not see prospects for
themselves; they are not interested in learning a foreign language, as they do
not think it could be useful for their career of a driver, a plumber or a
dress-maker etc. Also some students could have no motivation, because they come
across a lot of difficulties when learning a new language and therefore they
can’t acquire it properly (because of their psychological peculiarities:
memory, perception, thinking etc.).
method of co-operation, method of projects – all these techniques help in a way
to solve the problem of motivation, to inspire the students to learn a foreign
language, to open their hidden potential abilities, for them to acquire a new
language with enthusiasm.
The method of projects is
widely used all over the world mainly because it allows to combine all the
students’ knowledge from different fields to solve one problem, and it also
gives the opportunity to put these knowledge into practice, producing new ideas
at the same time.
Recently there is a tendency
to call almost any event “a project”, it may not even be worked through in
detail. It’s not necessary to dispute such interpretation of this term. I
think, that is why some school events (such as the week of the English language,
creation of the school newspaper, any sport competition) are often called
“projects”; nowadays it’s really buzz word. Sometimes it’s true to life, but on
the other hand, some “projects” in reality are just a type of works, devoted to
a definite topic, or group works, or common events.
Every subject has its specific
character, and consequently they need some special approaches and techniques,
methods of teaching. Lately the method of projects is getting more and more
According to Polat E.S., a
method is a didactic category, a unity of techniques, of operations, aiming to
master some field of practical or theoretical knowledge, or some skill. It’s
also a way of cognition, a way of organization of the process of cognition.
That is why, when we speak about the method of projects, we mean the way of
achieving the aim through the detailed elaboration of the problem.
The method of projects is
based on the idea, which is the essence of the concept “project” and on its
practical direction at the result, which can be got when solving any important
problem. This result can be seen, realized and put into practice. In order to
get this result, it’s necessary to teach the children to think by themselves;
to find and solve problems, using knowledge from different fields; to foresee
the results and possible consequences of different variants of solving these
The method of projects
appeared at the beginning of the century, when all the pedagogues and the
philosophers tried to find ways of developing the active, independent child’s
thinking, in order to teach him not only to memorize and reproduce the
knowledge, given at school, but to be able to put them into practice.
The method of projects can be
used when teaching English at any lesson, devoted to any topic, as the choice
of topics in the curriculum was made taking into account its practical value
for the students.
But let’s turn to the special
character of the foreign language. Why should we use the method of projects in
teaching a foreign language and in what way should it be done? What problems
can be solved with the help of available linguistic means?
A foreign language teacher
teaches the children to speak in different ways, that’s why we suppose the
communicative competence to be one of the main aims of teaching a foreign
language. But a communicative competence could be formed only on the base of a
linguistic competence of appropriate level. However, N.D. Galskova says that
the main aim of teaching a foreign language in all schools is not knowledge of
a system of a language, but speaking as means of intercultural communication.
Sure, the language is an
element of culture, which functions within its borders. Consequently, we should
be acquainted with the peculiarities of this culture, and of the language
In order for the students to
form the communicative competence without real language environment, it’s not
enough to fill the lesson with relatively communicative activities, which allow
solving communicative tasks. It’s important to let the students think, solve
the problems, which results in appearance of a great number of thoughts; dwell
on possible ways of solving these problems, in order for the students to be
more attentive to the content of their speech, to make their attention
thought-centered, to make them use the language in its main function – to form
For the students to take the
language as means of interaction between different cultures, it’s necessary not
only to get them acquainted with the regional peculiarities of the country of a
given language, but to involve them into an active dialogue between the
cultures, for them to realize practical value of the language, its
peculiarities of functioning in a close-to-life environment.
So, the main idea of this approach
in teaching a foreign language is to move the accent from different exercises
to real active process of thinking, which will demand students to acquire some
linguistic skills. The method of projects will perfectly help to solve this
didactic problem, to turn the foreign language lessons into a discussion club,
where the students will think over real, interesting, practically valuable and
accessible problems, taking into consideration the cultural peculiarities of
the country and, if possible, working on the base of interaction between
Any project is based upon some
problem. To solve it, the students need not only bare knowledge of the
language, but a large amount of different subject knowledge, necessary for
solving this problem.
Besides, the pupils should
possess certain intellectual, creative and communicative skills. The first ones
include work with information, with a text, digesting of information,
generalizing, making conclusions, and work with various references. To form the
majority of skills listed above is an objective of teaching speaking. As for
the creative skills, the psychologists mention the following ones: producing
ideas (this skill demands deep knowledge in different fields), ability to find
a lot of variants of solving a problem, ability to foresee the sequences of
their decisions. And finally, the communicative skills are: ability to hold a
discussion, to listen to and to hear the partner, to stand for the own
viewpoint (supported by proper arguments), to meet half-way, to express oneself
So, in order to use this
method properly, the students must be got ready and this process should be
carried out within the whole system of school education (not only foreign
languages). And it’s not necessary to make it before working on a project. Such
a preliminary activity should be regular, done systematically, simultaneously
with the work on the project.
The method of projects is the
essence of a developing student-centered approach. Of course, it’s more
suitable in the gymnasiums, working according to the 2nd and 4th models of education. But to tell the truth it may be applied at any level (even
in the primary school) in any model of education. The main point is the choice
of a problem, which will demand certain linguistic knowledge and skills to be
worked through and solved.
The main requirements when
using the method of projects
- Presence of a problem in a
research creative plan, which will demand a complex of knowledge to be solved
(for example, examining the origin of different holidays in English-speaking
countries: St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Halloween, Christmas, Mother’s
Day etc; organization of different journeys and trips; a problem of family
relations; a problem of the youth and their leisure etc.);
- Practical and theoretical
value of the expected results (for example, a report about the factors,
influencing the environment; a collective issue of a newspaper; a designer’s
plan of a house, a park; lay-out of an apartment etc.);
- Independent activity of the
students at the lessons and the extra-curricular activities (individual, pair,
- Putting the content of the
project into a precise structure (pointing out the stages, the results and
distribution of the roles);
- Use of research methods: to
define a problem, and the objectives of a research following this problem; to
put the results into shape; to analyse the data; to make conclusions; to
correct the mistakes (for example, the use of such methods as “brainstorm”,
“round table”, creative reports, defense of the projects etc.).
Taking into consideration this
information, we may single out the following stages of elaborating and carrying
out the projects:
1) To present situations,
allowing revealing one or more problems according to the topic of the discussion.
2) To propose hypothesizes,
variants of solving the taken problem (“brainstorm”, discussion).
3) Work in little groups:
every group takes a hypothesis and discusses the ways of checking it; after
this all the ideas are summed up.
4) The same groups look for
the facts, arguments to prove or disprove their hypothesis.
5) Every group defends their
project (their hypothesis of solving the problem); the rest of the audience
plays the roles of opponents.
6) New problems are arisen.
The classification of the
common didactic types of the projects.
First of all, we should clear
out the main criteria, according to which the types of projects are
- the activity or the method
predominating in the project (research projects, creative, role play,
informative, practice-oriented projects);
- the subject(s), involved
into the project (monoprojects: within one subject, one field of knowledge; the
project, made on the border of some subjects);
- the character of
coordination (open, clear & vague, imitating the participants);
- the character of the
contacts (among the schoolmates, classmates, the participants from one town,
region, country, or different countries of the world; inner character, regional
- the number of participants
(personal, pair or group projects);
- duration of the project
(short-term, middle-term or long-term projects).
1. According to the method dominating in
a project we may distinguish the following types of projects:
Research projects. The projects of such kind demand
a well-planned structure, clear aims, substantiated actuality of the subject of
the research, precise list of the sources of information, considered methods
and results. They are very close to a real research and have the similar
structure (including argumentation of the topic’s actuality; determination of
the problem of the research, its object and subject, and objectives; choice of
the methods of the research and of the sources of information; proposition of
the hypothesizes of solving the problem; finding the ways of solving it;
discussion of the results; making conclusions; summing up and, finally,
revealing new problems for the further research). Certainly, all these stages
should be appropriate to the linguistic level of the students, according to
their readiness to participate in such activities.
Creative projects. Such projects imply the
appropriate design of the results. As a rule, the structure of the collective
activity of the students, elaborating the project, is not worked through in
detail. It’s just planned and develops according to the logic of the process,
accepted by the participants. In this case the expected results and their
design should be fixed beforehand (it may be a newspaper, a composition, a
film, acting out, a role play etc.). The participants may discuss the problems,
connected with the plot of any novel, article, film or with a real-life
situation. It may even be a fiction. The design of the results of the project
demands a distinct, precise structure. It may be a script of a film or a play;
a program of a party; a plan of a composition or an article etc.
Role play projects. In the projects of such kind
the structure is also only planned and stays open up to the end of the project.
The participants take certain roles (chosen according to the content & the
character of the project, to the peculiarity of the problem), which can be
literary characters or fictional roles, imitating social or business relations.
The participants may also invent some situations to make the role play more
complicated. The results of such projects may be planned or may appear
unexpectedly by the end. The degree of creativity is very high and the
dominating activity is Role Play.
Informative projects. The aim of such projects is
to collect information about some object or phenomenon; to introduce it to the
participants of the project; to analyse it; to generalize the facts; to sum up.
As well as the research projects they demand a well-planned structure; and it’s
necessary to have a possibility to make some corrections during the work on the
project. The structure of the project can be presented in the following way:
the aim of the project, the subject of the informative search, the resources of
information (the mass media, the database, the interview, the questionnaire,
the brainstorm etc.); the ways of digesting information (analysis,
generalization, comparison with the known facts, proved conclusions); the
results of the informative search (an article, an annotation, a report, a film
etc.); presentation; publication; discussion in a television conference etc.
The projects of such kind are often integrated into research projects and can
naturally become their integral part.
Practice-oriented projects. Their peculiarity is the
clear, distinct result, fixed from the start, which must be directed to the
social interests of the participants (a document based on the results of a
research in ecology, biology, geography, history, literature etc; a program of
actions; recommendation, directed at the abolition of disparities in the
Nature, in the society; the project of the law; some reference; a dictionary
etc.). Such a project demands a considered structure, there should be a script
of activity for all the participants with definite functions of everyone, with
precise results of their activity and everyone’s participation. Coordination is
very important at the stages of discussion, correction, presentation of the
project, putting it into practice and outer evaluation.
2. According to the number of the
subjects involved into the project, there are several types of them:
Monoprojects. As a rule, they are carried
out within the limits of one subject. But then the most difficult units, the
most complicated problems are chosen (for example, in the course of a foreign language
the topics connected with the regional geography, social studies, history can
be taken). But the problem itself demands philological, linguistic competence,
knowledge of culture. The project of such kind should be properly structured by
the lessons; their aims and objectives should be clearly pointed; we also must
not forget about those skills and knowledge, which are expected to be acquired
as a result, they should also be fixed beforehand.
The work at the lessons should
be carefully planned; the students should be divided into groups (within which
the roles are distributed). Before they start students themselves choose the
way in which they’ll present their work.
Rather often the students
continue working on such projects during their extracurricular activity
(individually or in groups).
The projects made on the
border of several subjects.
As a rule, they are made at the extracurricular time. They can be of a small
size, dealing with 2-3 subjects, or great long ones, involving the whole
school, aiming to solve any complicated problem, which is important for every
participant (for example, “culture of communication”, at the border of the
Such projects must be
coordinated by the specialists; several creative groups are to work in a harmonious
unity; they ought to have clear tasks for a research; their presentations (both
intermediate and final) should be well-worked through.
3. According to the character of
coordination we may distinguish the following types of projects:
The projects with clear, open
Here the coordinator is the participant of the project, he directs the work
unimportunately, organizes additional stages of the project if necessary, and
plans the activity of every participant (for example, to arrange a meeting in
any official institution, to organize a questionnaire or an interview with
specialists, to collect data for the presentation etc).
Projects with vague
In the projects of such kind the coordinator is the full member of the project.
For example, a professional geographer, who plays a role of a foreigner. He
asks the students to tell about the geographic peculiarities of different
4. As for the character of the contacts,
this criterion divides the projects into following groups:
Internal, regional projects. They are organized within
one school (including one subject or several ones) or among different schools
or grades in a region or in a country.
International projects. Their participants are the
representatives of different countries. Such projects are of great importance,
since to be realized they need some information technologies.
1. By the number of
participants the projects can be also different: personal (between 2
partners from different schools, regions, countries), pair (between/among
the couples of participants) or group projects (among the groups). And
it’s very important to organize group work properly from the methodical
viewpoint (both inside a group of participants, close to each other and in a
group, uniting the members from different schools, countries etc). The role of
a coordinator is especially important in this case.
2. According to the duration
of the projects, they can be short-term (in order to solve one little
problem or a part of a more important problem); middle-term (1 or 2
months) and long-term (up to a year).
As a rule, short-term projects
are carried out at the lessons of one subject (sometimes with the help of
knowledge from other subjects). As for the middle- and long-term projects, they
are usually carried out on the border of several subjects (no matter if they
are internal or international) and are to solve a great important problem or a
complex of interconnected problems. So they may present a complex program. Such
projects are usually made as the extracurricular activity, though their
progress may be discussed at the lessons.
Naturally, in reality we
usually deal with combined types of projects, which may unite the peculiarities
of research and creative projects, or practice-oriented and research ones.
Every type has his own way of coordination, deadlines, stages and number of
participants. That’s why, working on a project we ought to bear in mind its
peculiarities and characteristic features.
Coordination of the projects
and organization of the external evaluation should be emphasized, as it’s
well-known, that the best improvisation is that one, which had been
well-prepared. That’s why, if a teacher decided to use the method of projects
when teaching any question of the curriculum, he is to think everything over
thoroughly, to work it out in detail.
If the students are supposed
to formulate a problem when working on a concrete situation, the teacher is to
foresee several possible variants of it. The students are likely to call some
of them, and the teacher should lead his children to the others with the help
of special questions, situations etc. The teacher must fix the objectives for
the students (what they are to make during their activity), collect the
necessary information (printed, sound, video etc) or give the recommendations,
where the students are able to find it (Internet, CD etc). He must think over
what kind of help he may offer the students without giving them ready answers.
It’s desirable that the teacher plans the series of lessons, which he’ll devote
to the work on the project. Besides, it’s important to watch every student’s
activity during the entire process, at every stage. Self-control and mutual
control will be helpful. At the final stage (the defense of the project) other
foreign language teachers may be invited as the experts. The external
evaluation will greatly depend on the type of the project, on its topic and
content, on the conditions of the whole process. If it’s a research project, it
has to include certain stages, and moreover the success of the whole deal
depends on the proper work at every separate stage. Right sequence of
activities is also very important. That’s why the teacher must follow the
activity of his students stage by stage, evaluating and coordinating. But the
marks are not necessary. He may use various forms of encouragement, including
the simplest ones like: “That’s right. Go on.” or “Think it over”, “You are
right”, “Not exactly. Try again” etc.
When working on the role play
projects, implying the competitive character, score system may be used.
In creative projects it’s
sometimes impossible to evaluate the intermediate results, but it’s necessary
to control the work in order to help in time, if the students need it (but it
should not be a ready answer or solving of the problem, but just an advice).
In other words, the outer
evaluation (both intermediate and final) is necessary, but it can take
different forms, depending on different factors.
The teaсher and trusted independent outer experts
are constantly monitoring the students’ activity, not importunately, but
tactfully, giving necessary advice and help.
I’ve found out that this
method is very effective at the stages of generalization, consolidation and
revising of the material, it’s especially important when realizing the
knowledge in practice. The most attractive point is the influence of the method
on the students’ motivation, since the method of projects let the teacher turn
the English language lessons into a creative research laboratory, where every pupil
is involved into an active creative cognitive process. The students master
their speaking and writing skills, widen their outlook, develop their
communicative abilities, ability to discuss in English. Every child learns to
express his thoughts and to stand for his viewpoint, to prove it with proper
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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007