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Project Based Learning in Rural English Language Classrooms: A Podcast

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Jham Bahadur Thapa

Podcast script

Namaste, I’m Jham Bahadur Thapa, a multilingual English teacher. I have been teaching for 16 years and now I teach in a public secondary school in Tanahun. Today in this podcast, I’m going to share my experiences and reflections on implementing Project Based Learning in Rural English Language Classrooms.

Let’s get started!

The population of students in my school is very diverse, ranging from different linguistic, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. They mostly speak Nepali, Magar, Darai, Kumal and Newari languages. Most of them represent lower middle-class families from farming backgrounds. So, teaching English to a heterogeneous population comes with both opportunities and challenges for me. While I learn about cultures, indigenous knowledge, and languages, I also face challenges to enhance their English language proficiency in under-resourced contexts. Additionally, students’ involvement, dropouts, and irregularity in schools are some of the challenges. Despite these challenges, my students and I have been able to try out some great approaches and activities. In this blog post, I’m going to share my experiences and reflections on implementing project-based language learning with the students in grade eight.

So, The why behind project-based learning

There are various approaches, methods, and techniques in language teaching learning and project-based learning is one of the preferred methods among students and teachers. “Project work is one of the popular student-centred techniques which centres on the completion of a task, and which usually requires an extended amount of independent work either by an individual student or by a group of students” (Ghimire, 2024, p. 432). Confronting heterogeneous and unmotivated students, I was almost hopeless about how to engage them effectively in learning activities. However, I thought of giving the project-based method a try since project-based exercises are provided in each unit of a textbook, but they have never been practised due to limited class time. I found that project-based activities promote collaboration, creation, and cooperation in learning. It also promoted student-centred learning as they learnt by engaging in real-life-based assignments. Moreover, the curriculum has recommended project-based activities in grades six to eight.

Now, let’s talk about The how behind project-based learning

There were several projects in the English textbook, and I selected the project works that they could do in the classroom or beyond. Firstly, I piloted by engaging students in preparing weekly timetables. They accomplished the tasks and presented it in the class. In the second phase, I divided the class into four teams and assigned them the project of observing local festivals, preparing posters and presenting them in class. They divided tasks among themselves, making sure that they each had their group leader. To make learning authentic and contextual, I generally set project works during the festival times. They selected local festivals such as Janai Purnima, Krishna Janmashtami, Teej, Bada Dashain, and Tihar. In the planning phase, they brainstormed and made plans followed by observation of the festivals (whatever was possible). In the poster preparation phase, they engaged in a series of discussions and works. Their conversations were interesting as they discussed in Nepali and translated their ideas into English in developing the posters with some code-switching of cultural words like Janai, Mantra, Bratabanda etc. It shows how multilingual students use their whole linguistic resources in learning the English language, which aligns with the idea of translanguaging. Not only words but also represented the festivals by drawing nice pictures. Before the presentation, they rehearsed in their groups which generated a lot of conversations, negotiation and collaboration. Then, they presented their posters mostly in English also using cultural words in Nepali. Students also served as evaluators assessing their peers’ presentations, eventually offering feedback to the presenters. This practice was a pedagogical shift in sharing the teacher’s authority with students making them active and accountable for their learning.

These projects truly brought together students to collectively engage in knowledge exploration, negotiation, presentation including assessment. It generated a lot of listening, speaking, reading, and writing including visually representing their ideas. Most importantly, students were active in the process of learning. Similarly, they learnt both the English language as well as contents based on the given projects.

Now, let’s talk about My students and my feelings and reflections

Engaging in project-based learning during my teaching sessions contributed significantly to my professional development, resulting in successful teaching experiences. Achieving my objectives of making students more active made the class enjoyable and enhanced the quality of English language teaching (ELT), requiring my role as a facilitator. The classroom dynamics, students’ collaboration and learning and the outcomes of the projects were so rich that I wish I could invite other colleagues and head teachers to witness the possibilities of project-based learning in under-resourced contexts.

Similarly, the projects offered them multiple learning opportunities ranging from English language learning, and content learning to life skills development. It boosted their confidence level in being accountable for their learning. They learnt important life skills such as teamwork, collaboration, time management, oral presentation, evaluation and feedback-giving skills. Similarly, they learnt a lot from each other, for instance, the following groups learnt presentation skills from the first group and so on. I also think that project work offered multiple learning experiences catering to students’ multiple intelligences. For example, those students who were not comfortable in writing and speaking were actively participating in drawing and decorating the posters. So, it offered multiple roles and opportunities for them to choose and work on something they were comfortable with.

Now let me talk about some systemic limitations

The project-based learning promotes active learning with fun. I like to design project-based learning opportunities as much as possible in my classrooms. However, the current curricula, textbooks and schedule are challenges to me. A class session of 55 minutes is not conducive to project-based learning activities. Asking them to work in school after my class session is rarely possible as their schedule is tight in school. Working out of school was also not always possible as they lived in different locations. Likewise, giving more class sessions to the project would leave less time for textbook completion. So, I was able to implement only three to four project-based activities in an academic year. As students are assessed based on textbook knowledge, textbook completion is an obligation for me. Additionally, inadequate access to references, resources, and teaching materials complicates the application of project-based learning.

So, now my conclusion

Project-based learning promotes student-centered learning, hence active learning. “Project-based language teaching gives significant attention to learning naturally by taking part in projects” (Joshi & Poudel, 2020, p. 276). It offers opportunities for experiential learning, engaging students in activities that stimulate all five senses, including thinking processes. This method supports direct and active learning, creative, and critical thinking, and collaborative skills and nurtures communication for problem-solving. It also opens up opportunities for planning, information assessing and processing, and life skills such as presentation and feedback-giving skills. Additionally, it empowers students to explore knowledge and express their ideas and perspectives through words, visuals and posters. Project-based activities promote holistic language development by integrating listening, speaking, reading and writing. While the curriculum emphasizes the use of project-based learning, the class time, obligation to textbook completion and lack of resources are some of the challenges to its implementation. Given its benefits to students’ engagement and learning, teachers and students need to find creative ways to engage in project-based learning.

Thanks for listening!

Author: Jham Bahadur Thapa is an M. Phil scholar in English Language Education at the Graduate School of Education TU, Kritipur, Nepal. He is a life member of NELTA and also an executive member of NELTA, Tanahun. He has been teaching English Language from basic to higher level at several schools and institutions for 17 years. His areas of interest are multilingualism, narrative inquiry and teachers’ professional development.



  1. Ghimire, R. P. (2024). The Handbook of Secondary English Teacher, JB Publication, Kritipur Kathmandu.
  2. Joshi, K. R. & Poudel, G.P. (2020). A Resource Book for the Competitors of Secondary Level English Teachers’ Examination. Inspire Publication Pvt. Ltd. Dillibazar, Kathmandu.