In my previous post I started to explain, why I chose to design project-based courses instead of the traditional book-based syllabi. I listed the main reasons, why teaching Young Learners, whose age and language knowledge should equally be considered, becomes a problem when creating long-term plans, since there is no clear guideline (can-lists) for kids.
On the other hand, this also gives lots of freedom to the teacher to tailor a course to the interests and needs of the students (if possible, some schools oblige the teacher to follow standardized long-term plans). This was exactly what I had been dreaming of years.
The main difference between my courses and the traditional ones is the place: I am not locked in a classroom. I have my home: the kitchen, the bathroom, the toy-room, the living-room, we can move to new places. But we also have our imagination and can turn our toy-room into a jungle with wild animals or fly on our blind map to countries we have never seen before. My living-room turned into a catwalk, my kitchen was the Masterchef Junior kitchen for weeks, etc.
The second difference is the exclusive use of English. There are moments, when I have to give the meaning of one word in Italian to the students to make things go faster, but I still insist on asking and answering in English (me and the students equally).
The final difference is a kind of anti-teaching: I avoid books, ask my students to open a notebook rarely and try to be active and do things instead. And here come projects into the game.
For my girl group, which I named Girls’ Club, I designed a course that included 6 projects, each lasting 4 lessons (4 weeks), plus one Christmas lesson. Every project aims at a product: a magazine or a short video or a diary, something we can show to the parents as a proof of our hard but still enjoyable work.
Every project starts with vocabulary training, activates or introduces at least one grammar point and works with all senses. Students have to move a lot. They might not remember all the words we have dealt with (which is normal since we work with much more words than the normal 7-12 items per lesson), but if they remember the half, they have achieved much more than expected.
We have already finished with two projects and the Christmas lessons. In the following posts I’d like to show you through the description of these projects, how a project-based course works.
(to be continued)