Project-Based Learning in the Target Language Making language learning real, relevant, right now PBL, PBLL, Spanish, foreign language, world language, projects, units, lessons, class UA-59956679-1

About Me

Why PBL in the TL?

School is not a place apart from The Real World, and learning happens all around us all the time. It is our job as educators to construct meaningful experiences for our students to grow and work toward goals that matter to them.

Project-Based Learning is an approach to education that promotes growth, collaboration, goal setting, and personal responsibility. Combining PBL with communication-based language learning is challenging, for both teachers and students. However, with careful scaffolding that marries 21st century skills with target language input and output, PBL is a powerful motivational tool for lifelong language learning.


Who is Sra. Spanglish?

I took French and German in high school. I majored in English Education. So of course I teach Spanish now. I had this idea before I became an English teacher that I would learn Spanish to communicate with students and parents . I got passed back to my student the first time I called home because his parents couldn’t understand me, or, in his words, “Your Spanish sucks.”

I took some more classes, traveled to Mexico, started teaching Spanish, expanded my family, failed National Boards twice, got my master’s in Spanish, passed National Boards, started presenting at conferences, traveled to Peru and then Mexico some more, and here I am.

I have become especially passionate about Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) in part because of how prevalent and relevant PBL itself has become, but also because with the expansion of PBL, language learning tends to get left behind. My goal is ultimately to demonstrate to students, teachers, and administrators alike that languages are a key piece to engaging authentically with the world around us, and that we don’t have to wait until we’re fluent to communicate.

Where do I start?

I always suggest starting with your students. I’ve been working on 7 steps you can take to create your own PBL unit for your context, and the first step is knowing yourself and knowing them–and not just who you wish you were or they were!

If you would like some help walking through the other six steps, I’ll have a workbook coming out with Teacher’s Discovery in the coming year, and I love, love, love working with districts directly to walk them through creating their first projects. Feel free to drop me a line at to set up a one-day or two-day workshop where you are!

Featured Articles


Suzy St. George · June 25, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Hola! I'd love to include a quote from you in a round-up post I'm writing for, with tips for Spanish students. I could not find your email address, so if you're interested in helping, please email me at so we can chat! Thanks! 🙂

thelanglord · September 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Hi Laura,
I've just come across your blog and thought I'd reach out.
My name is Camille and together with some friends we run VocApp – a flashcard app for learning languages. I was wondering if you'd be interested in writing about VocApp or posting a link to our website on your blog? The app offers the possibility of creating flashcards in a variety of languages for free. We also have some paid English-Spanish courses, which we'd be willing to share with you and your students for free. Here's a sample set of flashcards I've made for you:
Looking forward to hearing from you!

Michael Chew · December 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Hola Sra. Spanglish,
I'd really like to switch to the PBL model, but have no clue how to go about doing it. I understand the idea of the relevant important question, etc., but what does it look like on day one of a Spanish 1 class? Any suggestions?
Sr. Chew (

Erin Hunkemoeller · January 3, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Buenas Tardes,
I am a fourth year Spanish teacher whose district sent me to PBL training with BIE earlier this year. I am very excited about it and have tried one PBL unit with moderate success, and I am about to try another one in the next couple of weeks. I am so inspired about by your stories and successes, I would love to talk with you about how to make this a full time solution in my classroom. Your students progress so quickly and their proficiency levels are astounding for Spanish 1! If you don't mind, please email me with some suggestions about making this my full time routine. Where do I start? Thanks!