Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Project-based Learning (PBL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL): A Perfect Alliance to Foster Employability

Mercedes Aznar, Florida Universitaria (Spain)


Although the relevance of PBL to enhance both cognitive and social aspects in the learning process is unanimously stated in the literature, it has been hardly used in language teaching [1] [2] [3]. Recent methods such as Communicative Language Teaching have failed, as Task-Based Learning did too, because they lack practice time or autonomy, among other problems. Consequently, there is a clear process of demotivation that results in students not achieving their learning goals and being reluctant to carry on with their learning. This is the case in Spain where students start learning English already in primary education and carry on until they finish their secondary education. However, when starting at university, a high number cannot manage in English and what is worse, they hate learning it because of the evident unsuccessful outcome. The objective of this paper is to present a case in our institution in which the use of PBL has significantly improved Engineering students’ learning goals: they must develop a compulsory interdisciplinary project in which all the subjects are involved and share 25% of their assessment. The challenge has been to develop a perfect coordination among all the teachers to establish the project goal together so that students can understand the rationale behind it and what is expected from them (the design of a prototype robotic arm). Concerning EFL, engineering degrees have Technical English in their curriculum and its role in the project has been to simulate the presentation of their innovation project in a real robotic international fair. In order to do that, they had to create their company, make a deep analysis on the international fair, create the promotional material and make an oral presentation. In other words, they learned how to search for specific information in English, read technical material, acquired the required vocabulary to describe their project, and used their oral skills to present it to a simulated audience of potential investors. The outcomes were very successful: firstly, students improved their language skills significantly; and secondly, they were extremely motivated as they could see the actual application of their learning.

Keywords: PBL, skills improvement, students’ motivation.

[1] Ansarian, L., & Mohammadi, F.S. (2018). Problem-based learning in action: Review of empirical studies. PERTANIKA Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 26 (T), 13-32.
[2] Ab Rashid, R., Mazlan, S.N., Wahab, Z., Anas, M., Ismail, N., Syed-Omar, S.N.M., & Anwar, Od. M. (2016). Problem-based learning in language education programme: What educators and learners have to say? Man In India, 96 (12), 5315-5322.
[3] Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. (2015). Why we changed our model of the “8 Essential Elements of PBL”. Buck Institute for Education. (Access Date: 11 April, 2019)

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