Why the PopuLLar Project is Popular with Teens

What’s great about the PopuLLar project and how can you and your students get involved?

It’s a project that is ‘Owned’ by the students who work autonomously and collaboratively; teachers are facilitators and guides to the project process.

It uses the students own love of music as the motivator and we know teenagers love their music. Their music is personal and an important part of their lives. Teenagers are overwhelmingly engaged with music, 92% of 14-17 year olds own an Smartphone or MP3 player and they listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day. We also know that there is a huge need to motivate secondary school students, in particular, to learn languages, focus digital competencies and be creative.

What do the teachers involved do?

Well actually the teachers do very little. They introduce the project to the students, stand back and let them run, and run they do. They can ask teachers for help, if they want, and you can help them with facilities to record and edit.

What do students do?

The project asks students to write their own lyrics to songs of their choice. They then translate their songs in to the target language they are learning; this will require adaptation to the music of the chosen song. The students then record their song (audio or video) and share it with other students all over Europe. The receiving students then have to comprehend the songs and translate into their native language and record their version for sharing.

The first groups of students in Czech, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the UK have completed their videos with incredible results, see the 2 examples: The kids have thrown teachers out of the project and are learning autonomously.

PopuLLar-Piloting in Brno, Czech Republic

PopuLLar – Buongiorno Principessa – Piloting in Spain English

Each participating school will have a page on the project wiki to share their videos and to choose other videos to work on http://popullar.wikispaces.com/

All the resources to use the project are freely available in 6 languages on the project website http://www.popullar.eu/resources.html It is best to start by showing the students the step by step guide http://share.snacktools.com/AEAED958B7A/fzp5bfsm

PopuLLar, http://www.popullar.eu/, is a European Union, funded, education project designed to harness music, the primary social interest of secondary school students, in to their language learning.


Statistical evidence (Source University of Hertfordshire’s Music and Entertainment Industries Research Group Summer 2009)

The most important entertainment type for 14 – 17 – 90% music
The size of the average digital collection is 8,000 tracks = 17 days
Average of 1,800 tracks on a pocket MP3 player or phone.
92% of 14-17 year olds own an MP3 player

Teenagers listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day.
(Source: The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine)

Note: Thanks to Joel Josephson for letting me know about this project!

Involve your learners in this project and have them record their first music video.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. I’d be interested in knowing how formative assessment fits into this project-based learning endeavor. I’m willing to bet that this would lead to more involvement on the part of the teacher. I’m not sure we get the entire picture unless we discuss how instruction and (formative) assessment intertwine.

    How do others feel?

    • This would be a project and therefore could be assessed with a rubric. This project is to improve language skills. Teachers should observe the way the students are using the language and also take notes. They will know if they see improvement. The idea is to motivate learners to be creative, learn a language, and have fun doing this while being engaged. I believe this project does that.

      • Thanks for your reply, Shelley. I think the assumption sometimes is to assume that teachers do very little when it comes to project-based learning (PBL). And I would argue that when it comes to (front-loaded, teacher based) instruction, perhaps this is the case. But I think that PBL requires quite a bit of time investment when it comes to planning and implementing the intertwining of assessment with instruction. Deciding on the criteria for developing the rubric, assessing the process, assessing the product, knowing when to make instructional changes, knowing when to intervene in suggesting new learner tactics, the degree of choice learners have in the learning process, etc. are all complex issues that rest in PBL. Also, aligning PBL with educational standards (through summative assessments) can also be problematic. The time one has to implement PBL might be another.

        I’m all for PBL, and appreciate examples such as this one, but also strive to hear more from others regarding the complex issues that come with such a learning method.

  2. Thank you for the interest bnleez. In the PopuLLar project we actually defined how to analyse the project before we started the piloting, as we need to understand the effectiveness, so we can adjust if necessary before finalising. The analysis will be published later during the project life.

    Meanwhile, yesterday we received the next video from the Czech students. They took the German (Berlin) students video, translated in to Czech and made their video, now the German students are talking with the Czechs about their work.

  3. I’m involved in the PopuLLar project, actually coordinating it, and I like it very much. It is great to see how students can respond with creativity and enthusiasm and how much they like to be in control of their own learning experience. They are very conscious that they are not just having fun, but leaning and leaning fast on languages, technology and collaborative work. We need to change many of the current perspectives to go towards a 21st century school. Thank you so much for your interest in ‘PopuLLar’.

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