The perceived English language learning outcomes associated with project-based language learning: a case study at a Japanese junior college

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

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Timothy Moritoshi

Research units


Scant research exists on the language learning outcomes of Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) to assist foreign language teachers in deciding whether and how to implement PBLL. This study therefore asks:

What are the perceived English language learning outcomes associated with Project-Based Language Learning when applied to a Japanese junior college’s EFL courses?

Working within a constructivist paradigm appropriate for classroom-based research, a mixed methods design was used to conduct a case study. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected via pre-/post-project surveys and semi-structured interviews, field observation notes, Students’ Project Activities (SPA) surveys and students’ project output.

The setting was a Japanese junior college with 28 low-level English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students divided across three groups: Writing (n=13), Presentation (n=9) and Oral English (n=6).

Participants’ pre-project surveys provided self-evaluated baseline levels in speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation. After finishing one of three eight-week long projects to develop these EFL areas, participants completed a post-project survey to obtain revised self-evaluations. Changes in perceived levels were calculated and are presented and discussed with reference to other data.

Results indicate perceived slight improvements in EFL macro-skills and knowledge categories. SPA data confirm these findings, refute quantitative indications of no perceived improvement in some cases and provide concrete examples of items learned or corrected. Data from the pre-/post-project interviews, field observation notes and project output generally support these findings, often adding context, aiding interpretation. While group work, peer-learning and the process approach to writing appear to enhance perceptions of learning and the learning process, students’ excessive L1 use likely detract from them.

PBLL appears to enhance the perception of EFL skills and knowledge development to varying degrees in this setting. Related discussion acknowledges the study’s limitations, highlights implications for pedagogic practice and suggests directions for future research.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date11 May 2018


  • project-work, language skills, language knowledge, communicative approach, communicative competence

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