Project-Based Language Learning

Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL)

Despite the natural match between project-based learning (PBL) and the needs of language learners, the application of PBL in world language curricula has lagged behind other subjects, leaving language instructors without working models that take advantage of the potential of PBL to significantly improve language teaching and learning. One reason is that the complexity of language learning contexts require complex designs to orchestrate successful projects. Such design considerations define Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) as a distinct area of instructional design and inquiry, which constitutes an integral part of several NFLRC projects, such as the development of model foreign language project prototypes, the creation of a project repository to create, modify, and share foreign language projects, the development of PBLL curriculum in Vietnamese and Indonesian, the development and delivery of an intensive online institute on PBLL, and the development and delivery of intensive summer institutes that address PBLL from various perspectives.  


PBLL Professional Development Events 

Online Symposium on Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL)

This Symposium brings together experts, educational leaders, and world language teachers to foster the conversation on the potential for PBLL to transform and enhance language education, exploring PBLL's intersections with content-based instruction, task-based language learning, and performance assessment. The Symposium Site contains recordings of all presentations.


Fundamentals of Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL)

These online institutes take place annually. Their purpose is twofold: a) to ensure that participants in the Intensive Summer Institutes (ISI) acquire a basic understanding of PBLL in order to optimize the use of time during the ISIs; and b) to provide language professionals nationwide an opportunity to learn about PBLL. The content of these online institutes is developed by NFLRC staff in consultation with ISI facilitators and slightly varies every year. These online institutes are required as part of the application for all ISIs in Hawaii. A self-paced version and associated badges is developed based on the facilitated version and is made available to independent learners as an Open Educational Resource. Both online institute module materials and badge structure are offered as OERs to facilitate implementation by other institutions. If you have questions about using institute content, please contact the NFLRC.

2015: Project-Based Language Learning


2016: Project-Based Language Learning & Interculturality


2017: Project-Based Language Learning: Pathways to PBLL


2018: Project-Based Language Learning in Professional Development Contexts


NFLRC Conference Presentations on PBLL


Featured Video - PBLL: Promoting Child Literacy in Brazil

In this video, you'll meet Rachel Mamiya Hernandez (University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa) who has applied principles of project-based learning (PBL) in a Portuguese language class. Key characteristics of her exciting project promoting child literacy in Brazil include real-world impact, student voice and choice, flexibility, and design thinking.


Project Prototypes


PBLL Prototypes are standards-based instructional blueprints for instructors with clear instructions to guide the implementation of a project. Prototypes contain rich descriptions of the core elements of the projects, including a) a project summary, b) expected outcomes, c) task descriptions, sequences, and timelines; d) necessary scaffolding for content and technology; e) detailed assessment information and rubrics; f) materials needed for implementation (e.g., student handouts, audiovisual or print materials). ISI leaders will select the strongest project designs created by ISI participants in consultation with NFLRC staff. These project designs will be carefully edited and published as prototypes. Published prototypes will contain professionally designed materials and media and rigorous assessment.

PBLL Model Repository 

Project Prototypes will become part of a curated collection housed in an electronic repository. Drawing from principles of design-based research, the repository contains carefully constructed project prototypes that instructors can implement and continue to refine in a system that allows for principled, systematic improvement, through redesign and evaluation. The repository contains an initial collection of 15 prototypes created by curriculum developers and ISI participants at various times throughout the length of the grant cycle. The purpose of this repository is twofold: it houses a searchable collection of prototypes; and it allows instructors to adapt (“flip”) prototypes. For example, an original project prototype which results in the creation of a particular product, such as a Vietnamese version of a guided audio tour of Pearl Harbor’s submarine USS Bowfin implemented with heritage learners of Vietnamese, could be “flipped” by an instructor of Indonesian to result in the same product, but in a different target language, i.e., Indonesian, for implementation in a non-heritage, intermediate level context. In such a case, the Indonesian instructor might be able to supplement the project with additional ancillary materials, edit the original process to include the necessary scaffolds, and edit the project timeline. The Indonesian instructor would then re-upload the adapted project template to the site, whereupon a Hindi language teacher might borrow the project structure (which now comprises a Vietnamese variant and an Indonesian variant) and adapt it to heritage learners of Hindi in a context that is relevant to that learner population and their community. The project process and final product would be similar (an audio tour) and would take advantage of the same technology, but would be embedded in a context relevant to the learners (e.g., the audio tour might be of a local ethnic heritage neighborhood rather than a historic submarine).

Tagged as 2014-2018 online-learning pbl pbll