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The adoption of project-based learning (PBL) as a methodological proposal makes it possible, as curriculum contents are organised around global projects structured through goal-oriented tasks that get learners to work together to develop a wide range of competences (communicative, mathematic, artistic, ICT, civic, etc.) and 21st century skills (creativity, adaptability, flexibility, social awareness, leadership, collaboration, etc.) in an integrative manner.
Cortada Josep & Dolors Masats. (2019). Inspiring classroom projects: An introduction In Dolors Masats, Maria Mont & Nathaly Gonzalez-Acevedo (Eds.), Joint efforts for innovation: Working together to improve foreign language teaching in the 21st century (pp.153-156). Rothersthorpe: Paragon Publishing. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3064130)
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an ideal tool teachers have at their disposal to get their students to “connect the dots” between content, language use, the construction of knowledge and the development of 21st century skills.
Mont, Maria & Dolors Masats. (2018). Tips and suggestions to implement telecollaborative projects with young learners. In Melinda Dooly & Robert O’Dowd (Dirs.) In this together: Teachers’ experiences with transnational, telecollaborative language learning projects (pp. 92-122). New York/Bern: Peter Lang.
On the one hand, PBL enables students to design, plan, and conduct projects that results in a realistic output or final product targeted at an audience beyond the teacher or the classmates (Patton, 2012). A final product is realistic when it relates with the objective to answer an authentic “driving” question, which, in turn, will engage students in a process of reflecting and responding to crucial social issues. On the other hand, PBL offers learners the opportunity to learn in context over extended periods of time because projects are structured around sequentially meaningful collaborative problem-solving and decision-making tasks (Thomas, 2000) linked to the consecution of the project’s goal (Dooly, 2016).
Cortada Josep & Dolors Masats (2019). Inspiring classroom projects: An introduction. In Dolors Masats, Maria Mont & Nathaly Gonzalez-Acevedo (Eds.), Joint efforts for innovation: Working together to improve foreign language teaching in the 21st century (pp.153-1566). Rothersthorpe: Paragon Publishing. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3064130
One of the main goals (and justifications) for PBL in language learning is the opportunity it provides for ‘situated learning’. The idea behind situated learning is that in order for learners to come to know and understand something requires tasks that are embedded in the target context and incite thinking that is similar to what would be done in real life. This is a move away from language instruction based on pre-defined goals (without taking into account either the learners or the situation) and which attempts to reinforce the chosen language content through decontextualized practice. In contrast, through situated language learning contexts -as occurs in PBL- teachers can bridge the gap between language learning and the need to create authentic use of the target language, thereby constructing an understanding of language as it would be used in realistic, outside-the-classroom contexts.
Dooly, Melinda, & Masats, Dolors (2008). Russian dolls: Using projects to learn about projects. GRETA Journal, 16(1-2), 27-35.)