If you speak another language or have already set out to study a second language, you know the gap between what is learned in class and practice in a foreign country, with native speakers. The great challenge for language teachers is to reduce this gap, turning the activities more fluid and similar to real situations, so that the student can have an experience as close as possible to the real practice of the foreign language. And Project Based Learning, or PBL, can help with that.


Truncated phrases, literally translated expressions from their mother tongue, and archaic words, little used in everyday language, are problems often faced by those who have learned the language through traditional methods. Active methodology and increasingly demanded in educational institutions, the PBL has proven to be a good solution to meet the need for more context-driven and engaging learning.


Learn how Project Based Learning can make language learning more effective and exciting.


What Project Based Learning is

As the name says, in Project Based Learning the content is learned in practice during the development of a project. For this, it is important to start with a problem. Students should then investigate the possible causes of this problem and develop hypotheses, establishing strategies for the solution. The next step is to set up an action plan and, of course, implement it, with the presentation of the results and the evaluation at the end.


In this approach, the educator has the task of transforming content into projects with high potential for engagement and – why not? – of fun. One of the challenges is to create projects that are, in fact, relevant to the context and the moment of life of the students, which will bring even more interest in the subject of the learning.


With the necessary contextualization, challenges and relevance, the activity will work in the same way as company projects, where a team or a certain professional works towards a common goal and aiming to achieve results.


Benefits of language learning by projects

Since the beginning of Project Based Learning the student face “real” situations, he develops his ability to deal with the unexpected, react and interact spontaneously, which is ideal for language learning.  The approach helps to develop, mainly:


Oral communication: in traditional language learning methods, in general the “conversation” takes up only part of the class time, which is also divided between the teacher’s lecture, listening moments and written exercises. During the project, oral practice takes place all the time. Just like in real life.


Social interaction: for a project to be successful, it is important that the team has a diversified profile, both in terms of personality and skills. Therefore, developing the ability to work as a team is one of the strengths of this method. In relation to language learning, this is essential as it allows the student to learn not only how to express himself well in another language, but how to recognize emotions, for example, joy or frustration in someone’s speech, and to exercise empathy, kindness or leadership.


Cross-disciplinarity and context: another advantage of Project Based Learning is the integration between different disciplines. Thus, even if your school does not have a bilingual curriculum, students will be challenged to think and apply vocabulary and knowledge of other subjects in English, Spanish, or whatever the language. Furthermore, the connection with the real world is very important. The chosen project can be exemplifying, creatively solving a school problem, or creating an event in which students are interested, such as a music festival. Whether through more complex or simpler projects, the nature of project based learning will require students to put knowledge from a variety of areas into practice and exercise the connection between them, contextualizing the content.


Case Study: Edify’s Experience with Project Based Learning

Based on Project Based Learning, the Edify bilingual program is used in schools in ten Brazilian states, with didactic content for children’s education, elementary and high school students, as well as training for teachers. In the program, the language development classes provide the basis for the star of the project. “The project methodology puts the student at the center, that is, he is the protagonist of the learning. Besides, it is more active and, if you don’t offer the student something to do, he ends up not having many opportunities for practicing the language”, says Andreia Fernandes, an expert in English language teaching and neuroscience at Edify.


Andreia explains that, during the development of the project, several skills are exercised, such as resilience, empathy, collaboration, communication and creativity. She also emphasizes the cross-disciplinarity of the method. “To create a project, for example, on tsunami, students have to study the continents, what causes their separations, divergent and convergent forces, the tectonic plates and the layers of the Earth, in order to then be able to explain, in another language, the phenomenon itself in what we call ‘Show and Tell’, or the presentation of the project”, she explains.

Project Based Learning is only one of the active methodologies, so important for entrepreneurial education. Find out more details and how they can transform education in this observatory on the subject.

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