Instructional Approaches

Inquiry-Based Learning: Research, Projects, and Teacher Professional Development

Inquiry-based learning engages students actively in their own learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator and guide. Students focus on specific topics and themes that they are interested in - choosing a focus, considering what they know, learning more through exploration of new resources, and presenting what they have learned. Participants in the online course, Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education, offered by the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater (August 2020; J. Eik Diggs was the facilitator), developed inquiry-based learning projects, which are described here so that others can use them. They were developed for speakers of a specific language, but they could be easily adapted for use in classes focused on other languages.

Inquiry-based Projects

Elementary School:

Middle School:

High School: 

Project-Based Learning: Background and Instructional Strategies

Project-based learning -- which includes curriculum, instructional materials, classroom activities, and assessment of learning -- is a proficiency-oriented approach to using and learning a language that supports language use in the real world. Here we provide a handbook and a brief video ( by Dr. Maria Carriera (25 minutes long) that describe the key components of project-based learning, and a document with instructional strategies that teachers in community-based schools can use.

Project Based Learning Handbook

What Does It Take for a Project to be Authentic?

PBL Works Gold Standard Essential Project Design Elements

Below are two examples of project-based learning plans, which were developed and used in a community-based Portuguese school in Virginia, and a template that you can complete to develop and implement a project-based learning unit in your school. Please review the examples, use the template to plan your own project-based learning activity, and send what you have developed to Joy Peyton ( We will collect these and share them with each other. In the process, we will learn a great deal about ways to implement project-based learning in community-based heritage language schools!

Project-Based Learning Project - Denise Corte (ABRACE Portuguese School)

Project-Based Learning Project - Claudia Da Costa (ABRACE Portuguese School)

Project-Based Learning - Project planning template


Published: Friday, November 17, 2023