The educational system of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been undergoing drastic changes in recent years due to the reforms that suggest radical shift towards its integrating into global communities of research and practice. Though the reforms imply the partial importation of global educational models especially the common patterns for institutional and curricular development, instructional and technological innovation, the process of reform is based on not blindly adopting particular international models, but on creatively and critically synthesizing and adapting global models to our own domestic needs and capacities.
General reforms in the Kazakhstan educational system comprise the ones in the foreign language education segment. Current developments in global integration and international cooperation, increasing professional and academic exchanges have stimulated great interest of the state and the community in foreign languages. Foreign languages have gained the status of an instrument in organizing the intellectual potential of our society thus becoming the major engine in the development of the Republic. Moreover, foreign languages nowadays provide an access to world cultural treasures, help to achieve mutual understanding and resolve conflicts. In today’s global environment, more and more people are studying languages in an ever-wider variety of settings, and the demand for competent language teachers is strong [1, p.5].
The use of new information and teaching techniques is considered to be the basis of teaching and learning. The essence of today’s education is communicative way of teaching English. There is a growing need in seeking new methods and new technologies. That is why what we teach and how we teach are of equal importance. When we mention new techniques we mean lessons using business and role plays, co-operative learning, the development of critical thinking through reading and writing, project work, etc. The aim of the project method is to stimulate the interest in studying the language and to improve the skills and knowledge of pupils with the help of project work.
The aim of this article is to show the advantage of the Project Method in teaching a foreign language.
The Project Method is considered to be very effective due to the following:
– makes teaching process more perfect;
– increases student’s motivation to the investigation of foreign languages;
– enlarges and varies the program of teaching foreign languages;
– forms and develops communicative skills of students more quickly;
– improves communicative skills of students, so long as, it gives them an opportunity to express more
– prompts to more effective and rational usage of time in teaching process of foreign languages;
– develops a row of important skills like common making/adopting decision, creative professional thinking etc.;
– enlists students to solute some problems which are maximum approximate to professional;
– makes teaching process more individual;
– stimulates student’s self-work (individual, paired, in groups);
– forms some abilities to orient in the world information space;
– forms some abilities to choose the necessary information.
The project method is widely used in various subject areas; including the foreign language area. The project method is an educational enterprise in which students solve a practical problem over a period of several days or weeks. It may involve building a rocket, designing a playground, or publishing a class newspaper. The projects may be suggested by the teacher, but they are planned and executed as far as possible by the students themselves, individually or in groups.
Teaching by engaging students in a long-term activity in which they gather information and develop a product of some kind, such as a written report, oral presentation, or model. Some educators believe that students learn more, understand the content more thoroughly, and remember information and skills longer when they work on a project. Project work focuses on applying, not imparting, specific knowledge or skills, and on improving student involvement and motivation in order to foster independent thinking, self-confidence, and social responsibility. The “project method” involves choosing a particular theme or topic (like Seasons for e. g.) and weaving several activities, spanning multiple subject areas, in the effort to integrate and make whole all the information about the chosen topics.
The popularity of the project method among students and among teachers and its prospects is primarily due to the project assignment. This method is based on the idea of interaction between students in the group during the training process.
Definitions: J. A. Stevenson: “A project is a problematic act carried to completion in its natural setting”, B. M. Snedden: “Project is a unit of educative work in which the most prominent feature is some form of positive and concrete achievements”. W. W. Charters: “In topical organization principles are learned first while in the projects the problems are proposed which demand in the solution the development [2, p.3] of principles by the learner as needed”. E. S. Polat: “The co-operative learning is not only easier and more interesting, but much better. It is important that the effectiveness of the following method applied not only to the academic success of students, but also to their information and intellectual development, moral development”.
The project method has the following peculiarities:
- A project is a problematic act
- A project is a purposeful activity.
- A project is a whole-hearted activity.
- A project is an activity and natural setting.
- A project is an activity is a social setting.
- A project is a bit of real life introduced iv school.
- A project is a problem solving of a practical nature.
- A project is a positive and concrete achievement.
- A project is an activity though which solution of various problems are found out [2, p. 8].
The main principles of the project method are: 1.the principle of purpose; 2.the principle of activity; 3.the principle of experience; 4.the principle of social experience; 5.the principle of reality; 6.the principle of freedom; 7.the principle of utility.
The project to be successful must be based on a definite procedure. The first and the main responsibility of the teacher is to provide those situations to the students wherein they should feel a spontaneous urge to solve some of their practical problems. The teacher must be on the lookout of discovering their interests, tastes, aptitudes and needs. There are different methods of providing situations. As far as possible, problems or situations which are provided to the students should be social ones. These provide better social training and give more satisfaction.
The teacher may converse with the class on different topics of interest to them. Pictures of different scenes may be shown to them. Surveys of the local condition may be undertaken. The teacher is to tap all resources to provide worthwhile situations. Most of the educators are of the view that the project should be selected by the students themselves. They thing that this will stimulate pupil purposing and that they will be more interested in their work if they have a share in determining what they are not make [3, p.15].
Others who think that teachers should select the projects argue that this method will ensure that the students undertake only those projects which are within their reach. Students are immature and they require adequate guidance to select their projects. Using the project-syllabus is an outgrowth of the individual contract system used in experiential education. It is a mass-produced contract containing experiential objectives, field resources to be tapped, a listing of topical inquiries, grading procedures, and a format for preparing reports. The mass-produced form eliminates much of the cost of faculty working individually with students to devise an experiential program. Yet, flexibility to fill individual needs and interests is assured in two ways: (1) more options are provided than are required to be completed, and (2) other areas may be substituted for listed topics. Through these choices students convert a standardized system into a unique experience [4, p.52].
The major traits that characterize the suggested foreign language education conception are its integrity and learner-centered humanistic approach. The latter means that most feasible learning and teaching conditions are not be created for each individual’s active participation and conscious involvement in developing personality through a foreign language. The feasibility is achieved by applying effective methodologies in foreign language education. These methodologies are based on the appropriate combination of the target, content and innovative technologies. The integrity of the foreign language education involves three basic components: language- culture- learner. The foreign language is considered to be a provider of foreign culture-related information thus enriching the understanding of that culture and an instrument for intercultural communication. The learner is an active partner in the intercultural communication process and is assumed to possess own cultural and ethnic background that can substantially impact his/her perception and communication. The learner is in intercultural settings. This leads to the understanding why developing intercultural sensitivity and tolerance is crucial in foreign language education, thus making the intercultural competence development the core component in the modern foreign language education [5, p.63].
One of the most important demands for foreign language education reforms nowadays is the provision of up-to-date teaching materials. This requires joint efforts on behalf scholars in creating textbooks and manuals of a new generation that will be based on local content, take into consideration traditional cultural values, and provide essential input to cross-cultural issues in foreign language acquisition. Another high priority issue for the current foreign language education development in Kazakhstan is professional capacity to implement the reforms. The major policies in this respect should focus on teacher training (retraining), sharing and dissemination of best experiences through establishing foreign language teacher networking, diversification in areas of specialization (level- and content-based), innovative technologies, modern textual and soft-ware resource provisions, and incentives for teachers.
- Baidukova L. A. Shaposhnikova T. V. “Project method in teaching two foreign languages to the students” Foreign Languages at School (FLS). #1, 2002, p.5
- Polat E. S. “Project method at the lessons of a foreign language”, Foreign Language at School (FLS). #2, 2000, p.3
- Kilpatrick, W.H. (1918). The project method. New York: Columbia University Teachers college.
- Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. (1997). Integrated workplace learning project. Portland, OR: NWREL Education and Work Program.
- Common European Framework of Reference for Language: Learning, teaching, assessment. Council of Europe, Modern Languages Division, Strasburg, 2001. Cambridge University Press (seventh printing), 2004.