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Tasks and projects Essay


Project work appears to be a good methodology of teaching and learning when you work with students of different abilities and with several interests. A project is an extended piece of work on a particular topic, where the content is determined principally by the learners with guidance and prompts from the teacher. Project work is a process-product balanced approach (Legutke, Thomas 1993: 158). The learning process focuses on a specific task, understanding the complexity of the task and dividing it into areas of sub-tasks which have to be gradually completed. These sub-tasks are connected as they arise from the nature of the whole task itself.

The connection is based on practical needs and logical rules; it is not made up in an artificial way by the teacher (Legutke, Thomas 1993:202). When students do project work, they don’t see English as a chore in itself, but as a means of communication and, in this sense, they learn the language through use. It is worth saying that projects are highly motivating for students; they can be carried out about almost any topic. They are useful tools to develop the range of learners’ capabilities, catering for special needs and addressing the most diverse multiple intelligences.

Based on these principles we will develop an analysis of “Music Project” and adapt it according to a specific group of students’ level, age and context.The Music Project from It’s Magazine was designed to be explored especially with young learners or teenagers, according to a topic which would allow to consider weaknesses and strengths of each student that the teacher could evaluate and determine the aspects they need to improve. a project involves not only the individual learners, but also the sub groups and the class as a whole: it is, as well, a participatory activity in which learners and teachers are working together. Furthermore, it could be seen as a reference to whom are interested in understanding more the process of teaching English through this methodology. According to this, the project is going to be analyzed through the model of Legutke and Thomas. It consists of six main stages:

1. Opening.
2. Topic orientation.
3. Research and collection.
4. Preparing data presentation.
5. Presentation.
6. Evaluation.


Stage 1: The opening

In this stage students are told to choose their musical instruments. They will identify musical instruments and then complete a questionnaire to discover which is the right instrument for them. It is a good opportunity to increase vocabulary. The focus of this stage is to achieve the rapid socialization of students. They are encouraged to get acquainted with their role within a group and to prepare themselves for more responsibilities at later stages in the project.

Stage 2: Topic orientation

In this part the teacher tells the students to form a band which we consider is one of the most important parts in the project. They choose the members of their band who will work with them through the whole project. Students have to make up some information in relation to their group: a name, music genre and particular features of each member that will transform them into a unique band. They have to be responsible of their own choices. In this phase learners focus on the topic.Teachers should have as objectives:(Michael Legutke and Howard Thomas (1991, p.172)

To sensitize learners towards the theme
To mobilize existing knowledge
To arouse curiosity
To encourage the exchange of personal experiences

Stage 3: Research and collection

Teacher gives some data about other bands. Students complete a press release and fill in a personal profile which will be shared with their classmates. Then they try to sing the rap given with suitable rhyme and intonation. After practicing, students have to write a similar song with features of a rap song. In this activity, they test their creativity. This stage could be the longest because it involves deciding which information to include in a personal profile and create the lyrics of a song. Students have to learn how to carry out research in the live community using appropriate means of investigation and recording, or how to research textual data and comprehend a literary text. It is one of the objectives of this stage given by Legutke and Thomas (1991, p. 173).

Stage 4: Preparing data presentation

Students have to get a deal. Before the start of this activity, the teacher explains what is involved in getting a deal and also gives some information about record companies and how much money each member of the band should earn. Self-access material provided by the teacher is fundamental. Then, as if pretending they will have a presentation, the band has to be prepared. Continuing with the project, students sign a contract, but they must read it carefully and suggest some changes if necessary. At this point, students work with their knowledge of the language itself and carry out ´group correction´.

At the end of this stage, they are supposed to make a record . It is a long activity where they are able to show their creativity. Their own record will be designed. All the information they need will be provided for them (history of covers, samples and categories). They have to understand that it is necessary to make a great difference, therefore their design should be the best. The concept of ´decision-making´ is determining at this stage; learners will suggest individual actions and the group will have to arrive to a final decision cooperatively. The next step is disc to dat. Students receive information about the history of recording. They write questions based on it and ask their classmates. Again, learners use the foreign language to create interaction. In part 10 of the Music project, the activity is to make a survey.

The teacher gives a questionnaire about music preferences. Students interview each other to find out about each other’s listening habits. It is worth to mention that disc to dat and music survey are data collection activities, which will allow group members to record information and then, draw conclusions in order to make use of the most relevant piece to their work. When all the activities of the band have been completed, the teacher tells students to start a fan club and gives them some facts about fan clubs of well-known bands, to practice meeting fans and answering questions. They also write fan letters to each other, but the most important is to explain that groups depend on their fans to support them. Fans and interviewers are always making questions to them so students have to remember lots of facts in this way they are able to answer accordingly.

Finally, students play a board game in which they answer questions about some artists, thus they can practice how to form and answer questions in a fun way. “This stage is the reawakening of learner motivation. The data indicate that learners are largely self-directed in this phase making use of the teacher mainly for training sessions only, to help with the various technical procedures and to deal with whatever language deficits have been identified by the group. More than any other stage this part of the project highlights the shift from the classroom as a place for role-playing the outside world to being in many senses a part of the outside world”. Legutke and Thomas (1991, p.179)

Stage 5: Presentation

During the whole project, students will present each part of Project Work to their classmates, thus they will have the opportunity to practice the language and share information between the group. In this case, it is crucial to create a relaxing and appropriate environment for students to feel comfortable when presenting their work. The presentation of each task is an event of short duration, but it it is preceded by a long preparatory process, which includes collective decision making, data reorganization and skill acquisition such as it is mentioned in “Process and Experience in the Language Classroom” by Legutke and Thomas (1991, p.179)

Stage 6: Evaluation

The evaluation is not defined explicitly in the project. It could be assumed then that assessment will be carried out during each stage and final evaluation will be done after students finish all activities presented. This is one of the most important parts of project work, Legutke and Thomas (1991, p.180) suggests these items that should be evaluated: Topic understanding

Group and teacher interaction
Procedural organization
Input materials
Language gains and deficits
Examples of learner work
Possible by-products, e.g. changes in learners’ intercultural awareness TEACHER’S ROLE:

Although the responsibility for project work is given to the students, a teacher’s role is not insignificant. In the project the teacher is acting as a “coordinator of learning process” (Legutke and Thomas 1991 : 287). Teacher intervenes with help, advice or to set fresh targets and has to stake out the ground or invite the learner to help her to do so.(ibid: 287-8)


Students activate the relevant language knowledge and combine it with other skills, they are selective and decide which piece of collected information is interesting and should be used in the final product and which can be omitted. All of this is done in a creative way and makes the learning process “in here and now” authentic. They are discoverers and, in this way, they work through the topic “how to form a musical band” through a process of hypothesis making,verification and experimentation. In project work the learner is reflective on the project, draws conclusions and makes new hypotheses which will affect the future work. As it is suggested by Legutke and Thomas (1991:215).


Class description: The group in which this project will be carried out consists of secondary school students, aged 14 and 15, with an input of four lessons every week, mostly developed in English. These students belong to a Spanish speaking community, but the school considers English one of the most important subjects of the curriculum. Based on these facts, the rationale behind using project work in the class is that through their realization, students can get to use the language in a relaxed environment and in an appealing way. As Ribé and Vidal point out when they describe tasks; “third generation tasks fulfill wider educational objectives and so are specially appropriate for the school setting, where motivation for the learning of the foreign language needs to be enhanced”.

Following, we present some of the modifications we suggest to adapt ´Music Project´ to our context and setting. We are only including those which we considered might fit better or best foster communicative tasks in our classes. The rest of the activities would remain the way they have been designed by the original author Robert Campbell.

Step 1
I. Part A.

To start with, by adapting the pre-task we suggest a whole class activity; Batstone (1996) states that, for making the topic familiar to the learner and mental space or attention can be given to the language to be used, in this case vocabulary of ‘musical instruments’; teacher will get students to listen to several melodies in which a ‘solo’ musical instrument can be heard in order to, not only identify and set a tick on the musical instrument ‘gallery’ (1a Champbell’s) but also provoke students’ sensibility and enthusiasm for the task by attracting their attention when they listen to popular musical sounds.

II. Part B.

Before the questionnaire (1b Champbell’s) a pair work activity would be added to engineer and indirect focus on form (Ellis 1993), thinking of an unreal situation and subsequently, move on to identify the musical instrument they like or play. This might be done having students to get in pairs and complete the phrases provided by the teacher in an index card in written and oral way. (see appendix 1)

III. Part C.

In task C, we would suggest a group activity; teacher assigns each of the teams of the class one of the instruments in text (1c) so that they explain it on their own and bring to class some posters or photos and even recordings or videos or interviews of famous musicians and singers who play that instrument. In this way the lesson might be enriched and more attractive. In doing so, we would be practicing what Ellis calls communication and interpretation activity, since learners are “…required to attend to the features in the input, to construct form-meaning connections…” (1993:11)

Step 2 Part A and B

Instead of exchanging press released format with other groups, this ‘choosing style’ activity could be done individually as homework, so that each of the members can have the opportunity to find or select something really meaningful for himself or herself because this is directly related to own “new” identity. Skehan (cited by Hocly, Tasks and Projects: 35) points out how important planning time is for learners – in a task cycle (Willis 1996:38-) “…to prepare their ideas… to think about how they are going to express themselves..” due to the fact that they will be introducing themselves as famous musicians. (see appendix 2)

Step 3 “Write a song” Task B and C.

From our point of view this part of the project is one of the most important of the whole project, taking into consideration that learner’s creativity, feelings and thoughts will be deeply involved in a creation of their own inspiration, even more than the use of second language itself. As Candling (cited by Hockly, T & P: 55) claims about humanistic approach of learning and teaching, remarking the importance of including non-linguistic goals such as awareness, responsibility, tolerance and self-realization among others. That is why we will be re-designing this task cycle. Instead of working as Campbell indicates in task B and C we would take just the discussion task where students discuss in groups the 5 questions about hook, lyrics, rhymes and message, adding a mind map or collage activity which could help them to illustrate the topic they want to talk about, the main ideas they would like to include in the lyrics, keywords that help them to express their thoughts or what they want to tell us with their composition.

Learners will bring to class different kind of images to elaborate their collage or mind map as a pre-task for lyrics development.Teacher monitoring will be specially needed in this activity to prevent lots of time consuming and teams get lost in a heavy brain storming and leading them to select only two or three ideas. Once all of the teams get their wall chart ready to be exposed in class, they will be taking turns to share and speak out about their song lyrics project.

Step 4 “Get a deal”

Based on Nunan’s meaning of learners factors such as prior learning experience, cultural and linguistic knowledge and awareness as well should be taken into consideration, since we are planning a project to be carried out by early teenagers and this step might not be suitable for their interests and learning pace. …there are many learner factors, such as maturational level, which are difficult to discuss without reference to particular learner groups. (Nunan 1989:116) For this reason we decided to avoid this step, and moved forward step 5

Step 5 “Make a record”

This unit of work includes a ‘music survey’ as a closing activity (10 A), however, we would propose to move it at the beginning as a pre-task. Thus the questionnaire (text 10) could be used as a second generation task. Ribé and Vidal pointed out that a this kind of task are mainly focus on content, procedure and language and learners are challenged to develop other cognitive strategies of handling and organising information. Our idea is to plan a task which makes students go out of the classroom and interact with other English learners, from other schools, friends, relatives or whoever who speaks English and sings or plays in a band and who can answer the survey that will provide useful information to design a ‘cover’ for their record. Students will be given the questionnaire (text 10 Campbell’s) with some adaptations to add and substitute those questions where “cassette” is mentioned and it may sound nonfamiliar for nowadays teens. (see appendix 3).

The survey must be spoken and recorded in a video to motivate learners to be prepared to use the language as a vehicle for communication. Group or self- monitoring might be promoted in this task due to the fact that learners themselves will be ble to help each other for ensuring ‘quality’ language production (Hockly, T & P: 82). Also, activity 9 ‘From disc to dat’ would become activity 2 instead, since the core of this unit of work in the project is the creation of the cover, the consolidation of this step must be the display of all the covers finished by the groups in class. So Activities 10 and 9 will be reorganized to work as a pre-task, A and B as planning and C as the report. (Willis task framework, 1996:38).

Step 6 “Fan Club”

We could hardly deny how important music is for teenagers and we usually find more than one student in class who plays a musical instrument, knows how to sing or even belongs to a band. As the Association for Natural Psychology publishes in its article Music psychology and mental health: “Music and language skills development. Both music and language are processed in the same area of the brain. Children and youth who develop skills of playing an instrument often times develop greater language capacity as well as the greater adeptness in the ability to learn a new language” This is another strong reason to take advantage of a project like this of Champbell’s, to enhance language acquisition.

We consider more motivating for learner to substitute the task of forming a Fan Club by an English Songs Festival which would be taking place at the end of the course at school auditorium or main square. Once the lyrics of the song have been finished, all the groups will manage themselves to compose the music or get an acquaintance musician who helps them to musicalize their song lyrics. If not all the groups are able to play their own song, they may be allowed to look for a band that interprets it for them in the festival, if they are one of the ten best songs previously selected to participate in the Festival. We are taking into account that the project has been thought not only for one class (group), but also other English teachers in same school, involved in the music project.

As mentioned in the analysis, the teacher´s role in this kind of event will be as coordinator since it will be necessary to inform and get the principal’s authorization and schedule the event in the institutional plan as well as the resources and equipment required. Whilst Students who are not in the band or group as musicians or singers, can be assigned team work tasks, like the publicity of the festival in the school, elaborating flyers, posters or pins, printed t-shirts or a blog on the net to support their rock group and song.

During the whole project, students will present each part of Project Work to their classmates, thus they will have the opportunity to practice the language and share information between the group. In this case, it is crucial to create a relaxing and appropriate environment for students to feel comfortable when presenting their work. The presentation of each task is an event of short duration, but it it is preceded by a long preparatory process, which includes collective decision making, data reorganization and skill acquisition such as it is mentioned in “Process and Experience in the Language Classroom” by Legutke and Thomas (1991, p.179)


This type of evaluation should include, as Fried Booth (1986:6) suggests: ´[…discussion and feedback sessions, both during and after the project.]´. It is highly important for the teacher to conduct activities that would test not only the language content being worked with but also, to monitor student’s progress and the ability to develop autonomy and the commitment of the group. Taking into consideration what Legutke and Thomas propose for the evaluation, he groups will be evaluated through the process itself as well as each student in his individual performance. The teacher will also consider the development of the process and its success or failure, in order to adjust aims, materials, content and methodology for future projects.


It’s amazing to find out that didactic used in Tasks & Projects is like a mirror to see teachers’ way of teaching, especially those who think they cannot be innovative in education. It invites teachers to rethink the speech, contextualize the subject and more exactly to keep a romance between students and the subject, just to help them reach the top. Activities and tasks are so well designed that educational innovations have shown how English Tasks & Projects have helped to enhance motivation in the students. The theories which support them are so useful to apply them in real life and check up the result. Day by day, teachers have been researching about the easiest way to teach English as a foreign language, so we think if they internalize the different theories about English didactics, methodologies and approaches-such as projects, in this case- and apply them, they’ll be very useful.

Study material from FUNIBER
Fried-Booth, D. (1986). Project work. Oxford University Press. Oxford. Legutke, M. & Thomas, H. (1991). Process and Experience in the language classroom. Longman. Essex Nunan, David ´Designing tasks for the communicative classroom´ (1989) Cambridge Language Teaching Library´ Cambridge University Press Ribé, R. & Vidal, N. (1993) . Project Work Step by Step. Heinemann. Oxford

http://project-work-in-english-teaching.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-students-learn.html Last retrieved: March 9th, 2014

http://project-work-in-english-teaching.blogspot.com/2011/10/what-students-learn.html Last retrieved: March 9th, 2014

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/project-work-teenagers Last retrieved: March 7th, 2014
Last retrieved: April 2nd, 2014.

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