Creativity in the English

language classroom
Edited by Alan Maley and Nik Peachey

© Mat Wright

Outside the Box
Being inside the box
was comfortable –
warm and cosy.
We curled up
with cushions of routine,
wadded with words,
blanketed by books,
swaddled in certainties.
A bit stuffy perhaps,
and we sometimes felt cramped,
but never mind,
we were so used to it
that it felt normal –
and, as I said,

Out here we are exposed,
and cold winds blow.
We need to hold on tight,
keep our eyes open
for sudden snow squalls,
hidden crevasses.
It’s a precarious existence now –
but here we can move and breathe,
see clear to the far horizon.

And if we come to a cliff,
we know we can step off it
into empty air,
trusting it to bear us up.
We have no fear
Alan Maley
Nagoya, November 2010

Creativity in the English
language classroom
Edited by Alan Maley and Nik Peachey

britishcouncil. UK .ISBN 978-0-86355-767-5 © British Council 2015 Brand and Design / F004 10 Spring Gardens London SW1A 2BN.

...................................................................... Contents Foreword: Chris Kennedy.............73 Jürgen Kurtz This chapter looks at how placing strong emphasis on communication as participation and on learning as transformation of participatory competence and skill..................................... 6 1 Medium: companion or slave?.............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. relevant and efficient................................................................................................................................................................. we can engage foreign language learners in increasingly self-regulated improvised oral interaction in the target language............................................................. Contents  | 1 .............64 Judit Fehér This chapter provides a range of tips for teachers to help them integrate creativity into their everyday classroom practice and typical language-learning activities and exercises.............................. 4 About the editors ......................................51 Jill and Charlie Hadfield This chapter looks at how applying creative techniques to grammar practice can motivate students by making what could be a routine and repetitious activity into something novel and exciting............. 9 Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively. 7 From everyday activities to creative tasks .........................................................................44 David Heathfield This chapter looks at the role of storytelling in the classroom and shows how the language classroom is a perfect environment for teachers and students to tell stories about their own lives and experiences............................................................................................................................................................................................................... working entirely with free or very inexpensive materials.................................................................................................................................................24 Brian Tomlinson This chapter looks at how teachers can ‘open up’ the often closed activities to be found within coursebooks........................ 5 Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories......................... 6 Teaching grammar creatively........................................................................................................................29 Carol Read This chapter looks at children learning English as a foreign language at primary schools and how by using seven pillars of creativity teachers can help students with limited language skills exploit their creative potential.. 4 Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set.............................................................. 8 Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom..37 Chrysa Papalazarou This chapter looks at how we can encourage creative thinking in the English classroom by using artful visual stimuli and the Visible Thinking approach.......................................................84 Kathleen M Bailey and Anita Krishnan This chapter documents a number of creative uses of images and objects by English language teachers who have worked in under-resourced areas in several different countries around the world and describes creative activities and tools that these teachers have developed......................... 2 Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively ............................................................................................................14 Andrew Wright This chapter focuses on the idea that a sensitive awareness of the characteristics and potential of the media and materials available to the teacher can lead to ideas which are fresh.... 3 Introduction: Alan Maley and Nik Peachey................... 3 Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT.......................... 5 Overview: Creativity – the what......................................... the why and the how Alan Maley..........................................

................................... teachers will be able to create and elaborate their own original and creative projects with a mascot of their choice.......................................................... then shows five examples of mascot- inspired projects with the fluffy toy Brownie the Bear and its friends.......................................... personal and social development....... 158 Victoria Hlenschi-Stroie This chapter looks at activities and techniques that can be used to encourage younger learners to engage in drama and creative writing activities that will lead to greater linguistic........... 142 Phuong thi Anh Le This chapter looks at the role of creativity within the context of a graduate level American literature course being taught to EFL students in Vietnam.............. creativity......... flexibility and advanced communication skills in the current knowledge and communication society..................................................... 15 Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context ................................. 16 A framework for learning creativity ............................................... which would support a more product-orientated approach to creative writing......................................................... 2 |  Contents .............115 Marisa Constantinides This chapter looks at the role of teacher training courses in supporting the development of teacher creativity and helping new teachers to understand the importance of approaching course materials in a creative way...................................... 12 Creating creative teachers ................................................................................................... 17 Drama and creative writing: a blended tool ............................................................................. 123 Marjorie Rosenberg This chapter looks at how we can exploit our students’ experiences and use them as the basis for creative language tasks.............................................. 165 Zarina Markova This chapter looks at various ELT techniques for leading young learners step-by-step into a more creative process................................. 18 A journey towards creativity: a case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school .................... 134 Peter Lutzker This chapter looks at how story writing techniques can be applied within the younger learner classroom and how this creative writing process can help to aid the development of language and thought and shape the imaginative and emotional life of a child...... 11 Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects........................ 150 Tessa Woodward This chapter looks at the established stereotype of the creative individual and provides a more inclusive framework for developing our students’ creativity....................... The activities focus on a reader-response approach to exploring the literary texts............... 13 The learner as a creativity resource............. encourage and appreciate students’ contributions to language classes .............. 104 Malu Sciamarelli This chapter explores some basic features of project-based learning................ and the growing demand for........................................ Based on these projects............................ 14 Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes .........98 Libor Stepanek This chapter offers a practical insight into a creative approach to language teaching which has been developed as a reaction to recent changes in............... 10 A creative approach to language teaching: a way to recognise.....................................................................

‘Creativity’ is one such term. Birmingham what practitioners regard as creative. on creativity in ELT. a focus for developing individual skills and talents. though the writers of the case studies do almost give an implicit definition in their description of varied activities that stimulate the imagination and result in something new and of value to the individuals and groups concerned. rather than as but other. We can all think of such items and innovative thinking and problem-solving. They are not especially going to draw a picture of God. and all. ways of integrating approaches across the UK government reports on the subject in the last few curriculum and across institutions so that the years show the concept of creativity being used to professional innovations represented in this support a particular instrumental political view as volume can influence not only ELT situations a means of promoting the economy. The danger is that such a tendency to devote time to its development with terms may be hijacked by public bodies and private children and young learners. Readers may then work ‘bottom-up’ towards their own meaning. lose their value through over-use discipline of exercise to strengthen individuals’ or ill-definition. contested interpretations. the editors of this volume of articles on creativity with which readers may be familiar. and the words used to a muscle that needs the constant constraining to express them. when it is as important institutions which employ them as convenient but to extend its use to give positive satisfaction to all opaque policy pegs on which practitioners. I would like to end with an amusing but revealing It is refreshing therefore to see Nik Peachey and anecdote from one of Sir Ken Robinson’s talks Alan Maley. ‘They will. are expected to hang their approaches good practice. we need to consider ways of diffusing educators. more general educational contexts. avoiding a narrow ‘But nobody knows what God looks like’. certain concepts. and perhaps most important of and behaviours. Foreword It is worrying in our market-driven world that. There is we have our pet hates. It has been compared education. the child replied. They prefer to present Chris Kennedy a kaleidoscope of practical case studies to illustrate March 2015. adopting the latter focus on A six-year old pupil in a drawing class said she was individual development. Foreword  | 3 . definition of creativity which would be open to in a minute’. Developing creativity is not an easy option and in domains such as politics. business. Finally. and poses future challenges. including ages. The teacher said: concerned with defining terms.

from those with many years’ experience and partly from discussions at the IATEFL (International previous publications to those who have just started Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign their journey. through secondary school. It was the aim of the editors in sorting and selecting these chapters to show that creativity isn’t something For more information on the C Group. but that it is something which can and should Alan Maley and Nik Peachey be integrated into every aspect of our classroom practice and at every level of our learners’ experience. which is increasingly subject to The call for papers attracted over 200 proposals. and to foster it in others. members Creativity is an endangered species in the current of the C Group. institutional. A majority of the teacher can try to apply. and on the contributions which materials and teacher training can make. in the creativity in the language classroom isn’t limited to context of the newly formed C Group (Creativity for the ‘gifted’ and ‘talented’ but is something that any Change in Language Education). The final selection comprises chapters which cover a range of levels – from young learners. a number of geographical contexts worldwide – from Brazil and Vietnam to Greece and Bulgaria. model of education. We feel that this demonstrates that Language) Conference in Harrogate in 2014. curricular and assessment constraints. see: which is reserved for a specific part of a course or a http://thecreativitygroup. Introduction This collection of chapters on various aspects of This volume mixes contributions from a wide range of creativity in language learning and teaching arose authors. to focus on teacher creativity. from which we had the unenviable task of selecting We hope that this collection will serve to encourage just lesson. in fact.weebly. to adult and tertiary settings. 4 |  Introduction . and inspire teachers to allow their creativity to flourish. and a number of different perspectives – from focus on learner creativity. contributors to the volume are.

Italy. At present he works as Head of Learning for a web-based language school and is a frequent presenter at ELT conferences. teacher trainer and educational technology expert. China and India (1962–88) before taking over as Director-General of the Bell Educational Trust. About the editors  | 5 . He is a co- founder of The C Group. He has worked as editor and consultant on many major web-based language learning initiatives around the world and has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of ELT. He has published over 50 books and numerous articles. blogger. and recipient of the ELTons Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Malaysia and Vietnam (2004–11). He is now a freelance consultant and writer. Cambridge (1988–93). Ghana. Thailand (1999–2004). He worked with the British Council in Yugoslavia. About the editors Alan Maley has been involved with English language teaching for over 50 years. Nik Peachey is an author. France. He then worked in university posts in Singapore (1993–98). He is a past President of IATEFL.

all teaching contexts and all running through the chapters in this book. environment. 2001). the why and the how . 6 |  Overview: Creativity – the what. 1983. It is. Developing individual conceptual Many of the chapters subscribe explicitly to the belief frameworks for understanding and interpreting that everyone has the capacity to exercise creativity. Many of the chapters amply demonstrate and in teaching and learning a language. a Picasso. virtually all the chapters subscribe to with which low-resource teaching environments the view that creativity is really important both in life are cited. I shall as a stimulus and as a support for creativity will be take up most of these issues in the second part addressed again later in this chapter. (Maley. all levels Instead. downloaded or when we see it. the obsessive concern with objectives have to involve epochal changes. the imagination loose in an orgy of totally free and to offer some generic ideas for implementing self-expression. the world also means encouraging individuals to that it is not the preserve of a privileged elite. Many of geographical regions. It is This is largely due to the increasingly tight curricular also clear that creativity in the classroom does not constraints. this implies place in this otherwise hostile and increasingly curbing the teacher’s impulse to constantly intervene sterile environment. Creativity is universal. classroom lacks the single most important resource – the human beings who make it up. of this chapter. courage to make new associations without fear of everyone can exercise what some have called little the opinions or cynicism of others’ (Greenfield. no such thing. The following chapters. Even very small to the exclusion of broader educational aims. offer a practical demonstration of how this belief the less we have. Among other things. Those which do attempt to define it. 1992). And no can be realised. Campbell and Kryszewska. preferences and experience current educational ethos is damaging to creativity. 2014). the changes can bring about disproportionately large intense focus on testing and measurement. love-affair with ‘efficiency’ expressed in statistical terms and quick results – all of which characterise There is also broad agreement that creating the so much of what currently passes for education right atmosphere is central to fostering creativity. While have the confidence to question and deconstruct not everyone will have the big ‘C’ creative genius of dogma and traditional views. where I shall try to clarify what we though its manifestations may be specific and local. ‘Creative of creativity. to explain why Creativity is widely believed to be about letting I think creativity is important in language teaching. so that creative teaching can find its absolutely crucial. creative ideas within our practice as teachers. directly Encouraging an environment of trust – between or indirectly. There is an acceptance that creative effort and communicative intent trump Many of the chapters do not seek to define the nature accuracy and correction in this situation. guaranteed but it can be fostered with the right admit the difficulty of finding an inclusive definition. It is therefore reassuring to Some common threads find this view repeatedly expressed throughout the There are quite a number of themes and beliefs collection. Overview: Creativity – the what. a Mozart or a Dostoevsky. which is inherent in language itself. and the creative benefits. (Robinson. Creativity that we have no need of expensive and elaborate is widely believed to be a ‘good thing’. assuming perhaps that we all know it thinking cannot be purchased. In a sense. offer some kind of summary of the content of the The chapters also demonstrate how creativity following chapters. enriching the equipment and technological gizmos to stimulate quality of life and of learning – but these chapters the latent creativity of our students. I have decided against this. I shall attempt to trace common threads of competence. of course. Creativity is born of discipline and thrives in a context of constraints. the more we make of it. Related to the issue of constraints is the frequency Unsurprisingly. the why and the how Alan Maley Introductory chapters to collections like this usually ‘c’ creativity. extends right across all age ranges. all propose ideas which seek to restore teacher and class and among class members – is a balance. of this chapter. to possess the an Einstein. and over-correct. mean when we talk about ‘creativity’. And it applies equally to these threads then feed through into the second part teachers as well as learners. The issue of the value of constraints both which recur right across this collection. with their richly There is also a good measure of agreement that the varied personalities.

He believed that putting together two (or more) things that do not normally belong together can facilitate a sudden new insight. and we do not need to If we want them to act and mime. right answer. He outlined as the action unfolds (Underhill and Maley. It is no good preaching creativity to readily recognise creativity when we meet it. Incubation. The conscious mind needs to check. ‘a clear and sufficiently detailed articulation There is a consensus too that teachers need to act of the creative process is not yet possible. This kind of reactive creativity Illumination. the a key ingredient for creativity (Cook. This also requires of teachers an before aeroplanes could become a reality. like creating a new persona. there is of inputs. some features which are almost or to draw and paint. materials unusual degree of awareness of what is happening and fuels had to be available. not normally found together. control’ persona. 2012. we need to relinquish our excessively ‘teacher. but special occasions. In the third stage. They need Another thing to emerge from these chapters is to be relevant and practicable – not just novel. This would certainly not someone who is above it or outside it. and frees us of the idea that questions always have a Koestler. suggests single. not just for creative acts to be recognised and accepted by what the teacher does’ (Stevick. we must act and spend too much time agonising over a definition. and to ‘have a go’ the unconscious to take over. and this is one of the reasons it has way things are done – what Wajnryb (2003) calls a proved so difficult to define. It is also necessary makes it possible for the student to do. leaving variety. encourages and facilitates divergent thinking. If we want them to write poems or stories. by trying things they have never done before. in which the conscious This implies that teachers need to be open to such mind stops thinking about the problem. that the creative process operates through the bisociation of two conceptual matrices. a four-stage process: Preparation. For all practical If we want our students to sing. Given a ‘problem’. out. where co-operation. for example. sharing and the valuing Creativity is a quality which manifests itself in many of others’ contributions become a natural part of the different ways. rise. 2014) ideas. Verification. a stage of incubation. ‘puzzle’ or complements the proactive creativity of the ‘conceptual space’. both on and under the surface. mime too. within the domain in which they occur. the creative mind first prepares ‘activities’ the teacher offers. We could. elaborate notion of varied outputs reminds us that creativity on and present the insights gained. 2011). If we want the bread to ‘making something new’ is at the heart of creativity. we need to provide the yeast. then we must engage in the always present in a creative act. and willing to ‘let go’. iIlumination. itself by soaking up all the information available. Clearly too. Over time a learning community can come into The what being. Underhill. wear a clown’s red nose to class. in The Act of Creation (1989). The core idea of same activities as they do. and an ability to Among the earliest modern attempts to understand respond in the moment to the unpredictability creativity were Wallas’ (1926. As Amabile (1996) points ‘storied class’. There are of course. creativity is facilitated by a wide variety Following this first preparation stage. In the final verification stage. 2014). clarify. In order to do But novelty is not alone sufficient for something to this. the why and the how  | 7 . Stevick’s be doing something new and unusual but it would words are relevant here too: ‘we should judge only count as creative if we then did something with creativity in the classroom by what the teacher it. a solution suddenly presents itself A playful attitude and atmosphere seems to be (if you’re lucky!). be recognised as creative. 1980: 20). processes and outputs (Maley. the need for teachers to develop a creative attitude Sometimes creative ideas are ahead of their time and of mind which permeates everything they do – have to wait for technology to catch up. purposes this is enough. This is another idea that we can put to use in the classroom through Overview: Creativity – the what. and become part of the group. we must sing too.’ Yet we as role models. even our students unless we also practise it ourselves. 2000). Leonardo da not to regard creativity as something reserved for Vinci designed an aeroplane in the 15th century. if we cannot define it precisely.

self-organising systems. or a new game. in the 1920s and ’30s. He further explores creativity by analysing a problem might be there to solve. interviews with 91 exceptional individuals. and isolates ten characteristics of creative individuals One issue frequently raised is whether creativity (Csikszentmihalyi. the teacher’s character and behaviour. classroom climate. or discipline. applying the random principle (see below) to create based on attitudes. Problem-solving may indeed involve Csikszentmihalyi (1988) takes a multidimensional students in experimenting with multiple possible view of creativity as an interaction between solutions. 8 |  Overview: Creativity – the what. in that There is a good deal of overlap but before we treat all are rooted in complex. can be taught. to see new connections. What is certain is that creativity can be of such factors to shape creative effort. Chaos theory (Gleick. These factors clearly dreams. a new recipe. especially for play in the environment. and unless we offer our creativity-relevant skills (e. rational way which has little in common with of ‘flow’ in creativity: the state of ‘effortless effort’ creative processes. A new poem or a picture would be instances of complex. thinking are what make it possible’ (p. Amabile (1996) approaches creativity from a social And there are shelves full of self-help books claiming and environmental viewpoint. they are unlikely to learn it. ‘Far from ‘product’ but a creative solution to a problem never being the antithesis of creativity.g. She draws attention to the creativity from invention: the outcome is not a new importance of constraints in this process. They an approach which seeks to promote creativity. photography. constraints and rewards. There are many. or a new way of creativity arises from the systematic exploration using paper… Is discovery an instance of genuine of a conceptual space or domain (mathematical. we should be aware of the differences. In problem-solving. acting individual talent. 1996). rests on three main factors: domain-relevant skills But unless we as teachers demonstrate our own (i. Her theory tacitly learned even if it cannot be explicitly taught. engaging with the Wallas model above. film. 1987) tends to support her ideas.) and task motivation. such as de Bono (1969) and Seelig (2012). in making unusual connections. 1969) wrote an entire novel There is sometimes a confusion in the relationship without using the letter ‘e’. creativity? Perhaps it is simply a different aspect of musical or linguistic). them as equivalent. Discovery is about finding something that has always been there – but was until By contrast. This is related to the tendency to regard problem- Boden’s approach is richly suggestive for language solving and critical thinking as integral to creativity. etc. In problem-finding. who believe that it can. extrinsic new and unexpected associations. She claims that to teach us how to be creative in our lives and in previous theories have tended to neglect the power our work. family influence. we need to make an imaginative leap to perceive that 1990). and invention on the other. also explored the creative potential of constraints: one novelist (Perec. the phenomenon of intelligence) approach to investigating creativity. constraints on solved before. commitment to creativity. But it may also be conducted in a purely He also has interesting observations about the role logical. etc. for example. Boden (1990) takes an AI (artificial then unnoticed. the ability to break students a richly varied diet of creative practices. For her. The social and environmental factors she discusses include peer Bisociation was also one of the key principles of the influence. intrinsic motivation. There are between creativity on the one hand and discovery lessons we can learn from the Surrealists too. time. the theatre and literature which flourished mainly in Paris physical environment. and so on. generative systems through processes of this – but it could also be extended to creating such as parallel distributed processing. By contrast. But they also emphasised the the presence of positive role models and the scope importance of the unconscious mind. flow of seamless creative energy (Csikszentmihalyi. gravity was not created or invented by Newton: he She asks what a computer would need to do to discovered it. invention means bringing replicate human thought processes. and judged by experts in that field. 82). materials writing and for teaching. This leads to something into being which had not until then a consideration of the self-organising properties existed. For example. and of have relevance for learning and can be blended into seeing ordinary things from unusual viewpoints. the Surrealist movement in art. degree of choice offered. the why and the how . operating in a particular domain on a hunch. familiarity with a given domain of knowledge). of playing around and experimenting. music. acquisition.e. we are given in which everything seems to come together in a someone else’s problem to solve. life stress. free of ‘performance scripts’ – established routines.

Performances. non-judgemental atmosphere. ‘…linguistic creativity is not simply other classes or even the whole school. The human species seems to ■■ Establish a relaxed. the wheel. and as the world changes ceaselessly. Johnson (2010) among many others talks about the need for the slow burn of hunches and ideas. the constraints also act as creative breakthroughs: agriculture. games. and of designing one. This means attending to what unlike rats. Yet from the ability to formulate new of a class magazine. Encourage them to collect data which may be The how used later: pictures. By limiting what they inventions. the why and the how  | 9 . to the way a child tells a story. to the genius of a where work can be published. Almost certainly. some way. 2003) – more committed and more effective learning. Other Linguistic creativity in particular is so much part of ways would include giving students a project for learning and using a language that we tend to take publishing work in a simple ring binder. In this way writing systems. and encourage ‘noticing’ things. videos. I will first of all suggest some ways in which we websites. we are also capable of forming the they are trying to express rather than concentrating concept of a maze. which they explore and not to worry that their every move is being tirelessly. Many of the chapters in this book testify ■■ Encourage students to discuss their work together to the motivational power which is released when in a frank but friendly manner. We need to whether in books. other people. And allow time for activities and for talking about them. The history ■■ Frame activities by creating constraints. printing – a cumulative and both the scope of the content and the language constantly proliferating series of discoveries and required are both restricted. Without this creative capacity. to engage. for introducing small changes over a period of time. of our species can be mapped with reference to key Paradoxically. by bouncing them off other people (Johnson. We get good ideas we allow students to express themselves creatively. and more alive. are a property of exceptional people but an exceptional another way of making public what they have property of all people’ (Carter. a co-operative learning community. observation is. confidence and self-awareness. 2004: 13). The effects on students’ confidence of In the learning context. This This enhanced sense of self-worth also feeds into implies creating a ‘storied class’ (Wajnryb. to motivate and to satisfy in a inestimable value. we would are asked to write. linguistic creativity is at work. there will be utterances. we will find our way out. Help them establish an atmosphere where self-esteem. criticism is possible without causing offence. creativity also seems to making public what they have written is of stimulate. books and magazines… Students also can lay the foundations for a more creative climate. This could be by simply keeping a large noticeboard for displaying students’ work. teachers. Put in a maze. When we are exercising our creative capacities ■■ Explain regularly how important accurate we tend to feel more ourselves. Overview: Creativity – the what. for the classroom and for materials. be hard-wired for creativity. Shakespeare. on the internet or by asking create favourable conditions for it. done. And be I will then suggest some generic ways in which we kind to yourself (Casanave and Sosa. Creativity is also necessary for survival. ■■ Ensure that the students’ work is ‘published’ in so will more creative solutions be needed. Humans are innately where students feel confident enough to let go curious about their environment. DVDs. for example. or as part it for granted. to the students able and willing to set up a class website skill of a stand-up comedian. In where students read or perform their work for Carter’s words. on the imperfect way they may express it. need to be encouraged to be curious and to follow These are important because creativity in teaching up with ‘research’ – looking for more information. deep sense. Take it easy. Try can develop creative activities – for students. The why General factors We cannot avoid it. with change. students are still be living in caves. Likewise. creativity tends to improve student 2010). does not simply happen in a vacuum. ■■ Do not try to do too much. but scrutinised for errors. supportive scaffolding for students. Creativity helps us to deal relieved of the pressure to write about everything. 2007).

talk a lot. increase (or decrease) the time Acknowledge the individuality of students who allotted to a task. allow students to read it then unlock it. instead of ■■ Never underestimate your students. Use the constraints principle The idea here is to impose tight constraints on Some generic principles for developing whatever activity is involved. challenge. Learn to listen number of times you do a particular activity. support. Here are some examples of heuristics to try: ■■ Do the activities regularly in order to get the ■■ Do the opposite. Their capacity giving out the text at the end. if you usually activities. 10 |  Overview: Creativity – the what. if you usually diversity helps to promote an atmosphere of give a grammar rule. 2010). try silence. It will be for the teacher construct it. ‘expectancy’ (I wonder what will happen today?). ■■ Make it clear that what they do in the classroom A heuristic is a kind of ‘rule of thumb’. By ‘all levels’ I mean that many of these heuristics ■■ Limit the amount of materials – as in a construction (and others not mentioned here for reasons of space) task where each group is given just four file cards. listen. take it away. including this one. This after a lesson. they need to do a lot of (an algorithm). for varying classroom routines. That is activities we consciously or unconsciously follow. we do not learn in class. To get real benefit applying a formula with a pre-determined outcome from these activities. various ways. if you can help them out at the beginning. sit down. go again. 1996] say or try to say. If you leave too long between sessions. backwards. to develop more interesting And offer support to them while they struggle to activities/materials. a waste of time and energy. ■■ As a teacher. you would give it for creativity will astound you. if you normally set homework processes and of products (Maley. try reading them ■■ Make sure you offer a varied diet – of inputs. not simply telling them to do things. Unit 4…). Make sure that you provide the suggest 12 different generic procedures. It sounds easy but of course. teach from the back. they will be more likely to engage in these ■■ Reverse the order. then give the dictation. Essentially. apply the four golden principles: increase (or decrease) the length of a text in acknowledge. which can be used to develop various forms of ■■ Limit the amount of time allowed to complete creativity. Rather than is only the tip of the iceberg. For example. If they see you are reading. of starting at the end. the why and the how . a task – as when students are given exactly Use heuristics at all levels one minute to give instructions. if you normally read texts from beginning to end. it involves observing the routines and you have to keep going back to square one. frequency. 1999). for developing ten paperclips and two elastic bands with which to materials. ■■ Expand (or reduce) something. Here you would do things activities themselves. carefully and without pre-judgements to what they (Maley’s books. up to teach. Examples would be: if you always stand students. where a story has to be told in ready activities but rather to suggest some principles just 50 words. – as in mini-sagas. how they work out. The ‘suck it and see’ principle. or writing. increase (or decrease) the value what they bring to the group.) meet that challenge. right level of challenge in what you ask them to do. increase the number of make up the class group by showing that you questions on a text. it is not. doing the opposite and then observing what ■■ Be a role model. This means working with the happens. Maybe once a week is a sensible described by John Fanselow (1987. if you teach from the front This is especially true for reading and writing of the class. For example: more creativity ■■ Limit the number of words students have to write My intention here is not to provide a set of oven. For example: in dictation. try giving examples and asking them to derive rather than the feeling of ‘expectation’ (Here we the rule. heuristics work by trying things to see work outside class hours. can be used for teacher decisions. try setting it before. asking them to find examples. and for build a structure and write instructions on how to devising student activities. Short and Sweet [1994. Most of what we learn. This has been extensively best effects. to decide exactly how a given heuristic is applied.

Use the random principle ■■ Students find as many uses for a common object
This is essentially using bisociation – putting two or (e.g. a comb) as possible.
more things together that do not belong together ■■ Students have to find as many different ways
and finding connections. For example: of spending a given sum of money as possible.
■■ Students work in pairs – all the As write ten
Use feeder fields
adjectives each on slips of paper, all the Bs write
ten nouns. The slips are put in two boxes. Students Feeder fields are domains outside the limited field
take turns to draw a slip from each box, making an of ELT but which may offer insights of use in ELT
unusual combination, e.g. a broken birthday. When (Maley, 2006). Examples would be:
they have ten new phrases they combine them ■■ Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) (Baker and
into a text. Rinvolucri, 2005).
■■ Students are given pictures of five people taken ■■ Multiple Intelligences (Gardner, 1985; Puchta and
at random from magazines. They then have to Rinvolucri, 2005).
write a story involving all five characters. ■■ Literature (Maley and Duff, 2007).
Use the association principle ■■ The Arts (Maley 2009, 2010) – Music (Paterson
This involves using evocative stimuli for students to and Willis, 2008), Art (Grundy et al., 2011; Keddie,
react to. For example: 2009), Drama (Maley and Duff, 2005; Wilson, 2008),
Clowning (Lutzker, 2007), Story-telling (Heathfield,
■■ Students listen to a sequence of sounds, then
2014; Wright, 2008), Creative Writing (Spiro, 2004,
describe their feelings or tell a story suggested
2006; Wright and Hill, 2008), Improvisation
by the sounds.
(Nachmanovitch, 1990).
■■ Students are given a set of character descriptions
■■ Technology (Dudeney and Hockly, 2007;
and a set of fragments of dialogue – they match
Stannard – see web reference below).
the characters with what they might have said.
■■ Students are all given a natural object (a stone, Use the full range of materials available
a leaf, etc.). They then write a text as if they were All the above principles can be used to devise new
their object. and interesting ways of doing things. However, there
■■ Drawing on their own experience, students already exist a wide range of resource materials
choose a taste, a smell, or a sound which brings which teachers can draw upon to augment their
back particular memories. own creativity. The list below offers a necessarily
incomplete sample of such resources. Some have
Use the withholding-information principle been referred to above, others have not.
This involves only offering part of the information
Arnold, J, Puchta, H and Rinvolucri, M (2007)
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Overview: Creativity – the what, the why and the how  | 11

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Overview: Creativity – the what, the why and the how  | 13

It was group. Broadly. order. the language teacher must first of all be an important to stress that we must maximise the ‘event maker’: events which the students want to chance of every student. the students experience English potential of common media and materials available rather than merely studying it. For this reason I am not giving many the language meaningful and memorable. Media and materials can be like living companions (MacGregor. what you think the answer is. We have to combine this with ways of because someone has observed the potential of engaging the students. creating new ideas and new ways of doing things. In this way. Introduction I submit that most people use media and materials This chapter focuses on the idea that a sensitive in the way that they have been used to. match things objectively or subjectively. even though people had to dodge rocks spinning For more on ways of creating engaging events in the like wheels down hillsides! classroom. 2012) for the teacher. pair and group work are very Examples of the creative use of media and materials important. taking be part of. 14 |  Medium: companion or slave? . financially deprived areas. With this details of classroom organisation. part. it is important to note that an to materials ingenious use of the media or materials is normally From the beginnings of time inventions have arisen not enough. sequence and remember things) only realised in about 3500 BC that solidified drops ■■ inviting them (to hypothesise. The language teacher must help the students to use Language teaching methodology the target language for purposes which they care My chief focus is on revealing the normally untapped about. Sometimes. normally say ‘Please tell your neighbour described and discussed. 1 Medium: companion or slave? Andrew Wright ‘…a relationship between humans and the things Some authors have described how they conceive they create which is both a love affair and a the nature of their protagonists and then begin the dependency.’ Only when this has happened. Only after ■■ challenging them (to identify something difficult to thousands of years was the sharpness of broken flint identify.’ story and the protagonists almost write it for them. awareness of the characteristics and potential of aspects of a material’s character are regarded as the media and materials available to the teacher can a nuisance (like a rock bouncing down a hillside lead to ideas which are fresh. see Ur and Wright (1992). and Wright (2014). even in a large class. Historically: a creative response Methodologically. it is aim. or having a very large class of students). It takes a Examples in the chapter are limited to those media creative person to see that a nuisance might be a which are probably available to the teacher even in potential for doing something never done before. However. create and share) of copper in the charred remains of a fire might offer the potential for casting metal tools and weapons. relevant and efficient. For this reason. ask someone to call out their idea. ways of engaging a material which may have been considered the students can be summarised by: irrelevant or even inconvenient at the time. noticed and its potential for cutting realised. ■■ showing you care about the content of their In some societies the wheel was never invented contribution more than the language forms. For example: when you ask a question of in order to contribute to this ‘event making’ are the class. (2006). Wright et al. and this helps to make to the teacher.

me! It’s the way she said it!’ Central to our daily ■■ A sensitive and appropriate use of the character experience though this experience is. There are some things we teachers can do in order to make more effective communicative use of our bodies. above all. The first medium and resource is the teacher! ■■ Speaking in sense chunks/related to the content/ I fully appreciate and respect that there are special but also to the ability of the listeners/to grasp the conventions of behaviour and of relationships in content/is the most important skill/in my the classroom in each culture. Furthermore. Here are just a few indications voices over their lifetime so do actors. see Maley (2000). The teacher can significantly increase ■■ For more on the use of the voice in language communicative clarity and expressiveness by giving teaching. We all recognise the heartfelt complaint of the ■■ And. ‘I have a words themselves. find their pause/between each sense chunk/can be shown/ own way related to their own nature and to their local with an oblique stroke/as in this paragraph. little attention of the voice can transform a communication from is given to the use of the voice in language teacher the plain to the memorable. each part The language teacher as a resource of every sentence. I think it is reasonable to say that ‘creativity’. by definition. Medium: companion or slave?  | 15 . Others want to sound light and ■■ the classroom interesting and speak in a lighter voice. A great example? training. and let their intonation fall at the end of ■■ the students every sentence. In the remaining part of the chapter. Some people are driven by the wish ■■ the language teacher as a resource to sound authoritative and they tend to bark their words. opera of what a teacher can do in order to use his or her singers and mime artists work on the communicative voice more effectively: power of their bodies. clowns. The media and the added feeling implied by the way you use materials are in five sections: your voice. conventions. 1963). The focus for language teachers is on the The speech by Martin Luther King. not on the way they are spoken. dream!’ (Luther King. I believe we should use the potential of our voice to articulate clearly and expressively. of course.//Sense chunking/does not necessarily is the question of the teacher’s own nature and follow/written punctuation. For an actor the voice is subject to a Just as actors study and develop the use of their lifetime of training.//The length of the personality. more value to the characteristics of the voice as a rich medium rather than a mere articulating device Body for words. means new ideas ■■ Stress and pitch. is important. there opinion. ‘It’s not what she said that hurt with your body is important. Others just articulate ■■ the neighbourhood. volume and pace each have and a fresh way of doing things! their important part to play. ideas for using ■■ Be driven. how your voice works in harmony person who says. ■■ The quality of one’s voice. using a ■■ the school lilting pattern of rise and fall. whether it is hard Voice or soft. the words and hope the listeners will understand. of course. Each reader must. positive or uncertain. by using your voice to commonly occurring media and materials in a fresh help the listeners to hear the words you are way are combined with ways of challenging or saying and to understand them and to understand inviting students to respond. At the same time.

he isn’t. positively. doing so can be extremely powerful and window and acted out the giant. I became very used to walking into a have not used this immense resource yourself. For a number of years I toured as a storyteller in What a way of making language meaningful and schools in about 30 countries.’ I pointed through the However. memorable! These are rich assets in materially I did six lessons a day in every school and in the impoverished classrooms and as rich and important evenings drove to the next school to be ready for as any in materially fortunate classrooms! If you the next day. Walking firmly. hear and sense the people ‘Can I help you?’ etc. it is wrong to meaning and expression while you explain things or follow up a real story which you care about with while you tell stories. but not ■■ What is a good story? Above all the story needs showing any sign of pressure… no uncertainty. impact richer and more meaningful and memorable. having a bad dream and worrying about self-doubt would be picked up within an instant your grandmother are perfect subjects. to represent a young woman. Slowing down and slightly simplifying and heightening movement seems to have a powerful ■■ Perhaps finish the story with a question – not effect and creates acceptance of your leadership. is small with white curly hair. contexts. Body language is also a powerful communicator of ■■ In my. Working in Europe. any house. and if anything like that ever happened to them. Stories can be based on fact or be fiction. any tension. of my body creates a vividness of experience in my listeners’ (and viewers’) imaginations. Lutzker (2007) among others has drawn of our dogs. I showed them my table and chair. affects people. students can see. I left him outside the training programmes. ‘Stop speaking’. to give and to share as about what the students think about what well as to listen. making the take her lesson with a class of five. I learned that my job started the moment the Everest in order to have a story to share! Losing children saw me. an old man. Body language is. very strongly held. He loves attention to the effects of incorporating clowning in children and children love him. and then the struggles being firm without tension. 16 |  Medium: companion or slave? . Here is an unusual example in order to demonstrate that any medium or material is potentially useful in Just as the voice can be used to increase the clarity the classroom! of our speaking and the expressiveness of what we are saying. in some ‘This is the giant’s chair and this is the giant’s table. a teacher in my school was unable to meaning and add qualities of association. of course. depending on the age and concerns of your The old fashioned idea of a good posture certainly students. I do understand that some teachers. but a real question readiness to be involved. He’s walking in the garden. Awareness of the medium perceived intention of human sharing. What could I do to make prepositions ‘come alive’ The body is a largely untapped medium in the and without any time for preparation? Toffee. a baby or Work of this kind immediately devalues your an elephant or a butterfly. and place you are talking about. from their life experiences with their students. what you did and thought. good-naturedly conveying to overcome that problem and then a happy or that I know what I want: slow. might feel reticent about sharing stories Where is the giant? Is he in the room? No. classroom six-year-olds. I told the children that the classroom was a giant’s house and I acted out a giant to teach Life experiences them the word. classroom with two or three classes waiting for me… then here are a few tips: 60 to 90 children… sometimes more and sometimes ■■ Don’t feel you have to have climbed Mount less. They had been ‘doing prepositions’ in the last lesson. Details are important so the gestures… indicating. a comprehension question. of course. so can the body support the grasping of Recently. How I walked into the classroom your house keys. as old-fashioned. then a firm with how I want the children to be arranged. can lead to the students being willing to reciprocate. Any hesitancy. a traditional part of an actor’s and a Pets mime’s expressive form of communication. one classroom. 2006). sterile comprehension questions. problem that person has. (Gladwell. slightly ‘heightened’ an unhappy end. Small movements allow me. Being someone for the students to identify with. happened. ‘Settle down’. opinion. having a snake come into your affected them.

He then fell asleep. We also used Toffee in a class of 20. as well as a dancer! What walked towards the table. Yes. a big class has its problems. ‘Toffee! Toffee! Come in!’ Toffee How deep the expressive arts go. walked under the table. a large class offers some possibilities a smaller Today is Saturday! class cannot. in our beings. unused. and memorable 100 students are than 15! Carrying out surveys has far more significance with large numbers! Medium: companion or slave?  | 17 . Then. in some societies. classes are better than small classes (a class. around the chair and in normal language teacher training! onto the chair. chant and dance are central to their way of life meaningfully and memorably. a characteristic of a big class is the memorable sound! What a positive start to the potential for a lot of noise which can be bad or good. The students I get dressed and eat my breakfast. At the same Today! time. with rhythm and goodwill. Toffee! Toffee! Come in!’ and dance The children called. wagging his tail. Toffee! Walk towards the giant’s table!’ seen prime ministers and archbishops start to dance! So the children all called to Toffee to walk towards On one outing. and at the Poetry means a heightened use of language in end of the lesson my wife. ‘Jazz chants’. For a giant you ‘morning’ and then the whole group chanted need as many feet as possible – that is when big ‘Good morning to you’. told the class that describing ideas and feelings. ‘Oh! The giant’s coming!’ And I got all the one group said ‘Good’ and the other group said children to stamp their feet in unison. Leone. colleagues was a drummer. The children had made a humans! And. relevant and free resource for ‘classroom drilling of the appropriate forms’! in language teaching is a tragic waste! I once had about 150 students. head on one repetition of sentence patterns. Yes. I told them that Toffee was outside and Drama. song. Julia. chants. poetry wanted to come in. song. with a coachload of teachers in Sierra the table. to help each individual student and to give them I work and talk to my friends. outside the Then I said. Then. The students had spent a large Writing poetry part of the lesson interviewing each other. music. a resource! But there is no mention of this resource between the legs of the table. stories. most notably pioneered and developed Toffee was tired by this time so I asked a child to act by Carolyn Graham. at elementary level. She put him on a chair rewarding writing of poetry is based on the simple and he looked at the class with interest. the focused attention they each need. Toffee came into the classroom. I divided them into two groups: Then. When he didn’t do these things immediately it was perfect Not to use this deep. these expressive delightful dog come into the room by using English! arts are central to the nature of daily life. The class asked him questions and patterns and they compose their poems and then Julia interpreted for him! walk around and tell them to at least 20 other Seeing the potential in a dog is seeing the potential students: speaking and listening: intense. lesson! Cost? Nothing! and a characteristic of a small dog is delight). I get up at 6 o’clock. we came to a village which was celebrating. as came in. rich. moving For more on writing poetry see Maley (1989). 2006). I am listening to music! When singing. In the media selected in this section I am lying in bed! the size of the class is seen as a potential strength. on the chair. In some visits to countries in Africa I have 30-year-olds. Some ‘Good morning’! Her chants embody functions and parents came and we re-enacted it again and Toffee grammatical items galore: perfect for large classes was the star. Every day Every day. ‘Call. (Graham. 1978. The easiest and most they could interview Toffee. I said. how much more powerful. is a medium. He had been just a dog but now he was and especially for classes in cultural areas where a medium or ‘material’ which made language live. like a What power! What working together! What a dog. take the idea further than out his part in the story and we re-enacted it. it’s difficult I walk to school. ‘Toffee is walking towards the giant’s school. I learned that every single teacher among my In the sequence. meaningful in any medium or material which is around you and and memorable! perhaps. Say. You give them the side and smiling. not even considered.

by themselves. Launch this activity by preparing an imaginary Wright (2008). objects. which the students care about. the English writer emotional involvement that is a meaningful and and artist. etc. open and family anecdotes your eyes. emotions. in great detail. What Was it a big or a small table? What was it made better way than telling stories? This is a free out of? What colour was it? Was there anything on resource. etc. You hold up or describe an old key. You ask questions about what they students call out their ideas. Vocabulary practice! can see and later hear and smell. who listens with their eyes shut. 18 |  Medium: companion or slave? . creative acting and creative mime is not closed. through dramatic take it in ■■ This key is for a door. see Heathfield (2014). ■■ You put the key in the lock and open the door. Once which they can then read out to their neighbour invented. Wright (1997). Hypnogogic imagery. Wright and Hill (2008). Stories are a huge potential for language describe what they saw and heard. Some can see their inner images even with so common and represents a huge potential for their eyes open. William Blake. At higher language you tell them this is going to happen. etc. Push them with your questions to anecdotes. jobs which you might try out. likes and dislikes. What can you see? What can you hear? Stories. And every family is rich in personal in the class. an object or a job. Miming tense forms Here are some of the questions you might ask: ■■ Students. Hypnogogic memorable use of language. there is a proficiency levels they can have more subtle reason for getting the grammar and punctuation relationships and take part in more complicated and spelling perfect! situations. ■■ What does the wall around the door look like? blogspot. of the world are rich in traditional stories. Ask your neighbour what he or she saw It is often the case that financially deprived parts and heard. with a concern for accuracy! Writing or just inventing an imaginary situation or journey For more on stories and storytelling and story writing. A meaningful and memorable focus on tense forms! ■■ Is it big or normal in size or small? ■■ What is the door made of? For more on the vast area of drama in language development. ■■ If the students enjoy this then their texts cannot or be made out of clay or wood. ■■ Students take it in turns to act out an animal. The students can create an imaginary soap opera ■■ Now ask the students to each prepare a short text with locality and people who live there. pictures in their imagination. jobs. situation or journey yourself. rarely tapped into in the English lesson. ■■ Ask the students to close their eyes. see Susan Hillyard (susanhillyard. you might question some individual students and proverbs. given in a student’s book. and proverbs and personal ■■ Now close the door and when you are ready. providing the table? teachers don’t dominate it. use in the classroom and then in future life when For example: English is used as an international language. The other close their eyes. imagery is a rich resource. Tell me about it. themselves as characterful human beings. Here are a few summaries of activities Miming animals. 2005). They don’t call out their answers but just look in their usually with their eyes However. given or made available for use in another class. The students an emotion. or in pairs. legends. Also see the classic book in this ■■ What is it made of? area (Maley and Duff. the information cannot change except or group member. People must not only transact with English but represent ■■ You saw a table in the room. The new door? other students call out their interpretations. The majority of people have the ability to see is a well-established language classroom activity. During the first few be thrown away! They must be kept and published weeks of learning the people can be named. And if ages. The people can be drawn. Read your Stories from imagination description slowly and clearly. Is it an old door or a turns to act out particular tense forms. legends Then. ‘seeing in Drama and mime the imagination’ Acting out dialogues. saw angels sitting in a tree.

shapes.) Are you in the town hall? Walls No. Students can describe classroom. then it is a they did and what the community did! Such an challenge to their memories. You can build up on them a vast picture dictionary of words and Using the windows for shadow theatre phrases related to the events you have been creating with the students during your lessons. the ground floor or a balcony. you can then use it as a shadow theatre if the drawn directly on the wall. have a class sharing. (The hiding person should write down drove past the school. eyes and to share with their neighbour what they heard. Ask them to listen and to try to identify all the noises they can hear. Re-assure the school students can safely stand outside the window – for director. soft stones and mixing it with water. Medium: companion or slave?  | 19 . Teacher: And next to the grocery shop? ■■ After a few minutes. Imagine a swarm of strange monsters The teacher (or a student) stands by a window in the invading the community. A bird was singing’.: ‘Somebody for asking questions and for the use of prepositions dropped a book. imaginary community can be created in the first few weeks of learning. Shops. No evidence use card puppets held and moved on sticks. The students can make and but egg yolk would have been better. If you use the same classroom for every lesson then Etc.g. in time are no longer an abstract and immaterial concept but physically there. of this enterprise is left. I am sorry to say: it is now Benefits from the activity: under the Aswan Dam. in the present on the back ■■ using English for real purposes in creating the wall of the class and in the future on the right. tell them to open their Students: I think there’s a greengrocer’s shop. A time line can be drawn around the room. I’m not. The teacher or a student says ‘I am hiding in the This activity is peaceful and calming but it also school/town. The pigment I used was made from outside the window. what can you see? You walk on that The classroom street everyday: what is there? Students: A street. numbers. Small groups the year! I have drawn and painted pictures on mud of students work out a play and then perform it walls in Nubia. Teacher: If you stand by the window and look through it. of course. This provides good practice continuous past forms of actions. rehearsing and performing. A car and places. ■■ engaging Reading from left to right: actions in the past can be ■■ fun on the wall on your left. on the paper or sheet. Points story. If the students cannot see through the the colours. The pictures If you cover the window with paper or with a white can be on paper. but they can also be sheet. and to close their eyes. If the students can’t see. e. the walls become very important. the sun casting their shadows grinding local. and window from their sitting position. where they are hiding before starting the game. Then. the teacher asks characteristics and behaviour of them! And what questions. features. Noises Teacher: What sort of shops? ■■ Ask the students to make themselves comfortable Students: There is a grocery shop. Somebody was whispering. The wall can be whitewashed at the end of example. and then to another pair of students Hiding somewhere through the window and do the same. Where do you think I am hiding? You’ve provides a natural context for the use of simple and got twenty questions’. The community can be realistic or fantasy or a What can you see through the window? mixture.

■■ He wrote a story on a piece of A4 paper and then Don’t forget paper aeroplanes: making them. and compare the original with your own. Then. you Here is an idea for pair testing using the put it behind your back and you ‘re-crumple’ the translucency. etc. Draw a picture on one side of a paper. A cotton sheet fixed to a wooden frame can also be Paper is happy to be folded! used for shadow theatre: it is more convenient than Here is one of my favourite examples. That’s its head. the paper. next to the feature Time-consuming? Unforgettable! I have remembered in the drawing (but on the back of the paper). These are its legs’ etc. for example. for example. comparative forms! ■■ He then said the challenge was to read the complete story without ‘uncrumpling’ it! The classroom: paper is translucent! ■■ How? He said ‘you must look at it and write down Usually. an old idea. ■■ Only then can you ‘uncrumple’ the paper fully Now write the words for the features of the face. We can turn it round and write on it And the idea comes out of the character of paper – horizontally.’ You can show all three pictures Finding pictures in clouds. Bits of the writing could them. invented by a student aged on a computer but the paper is tactile. Materials Paper and card In most parts of the world paper is supplied in the international paper sizes. eyebrow. You can also make Rorschach inkblots and ask students to interpret them. numbers. created by the window! a teacher in Germany. competing for distance. ‘I think it’s a dragon. the nature of paper is that we can do other consuming? Meaningful and memorable! things with it. it ‘likes’ to be folded! Of course. Nothing take it in turns to show them to the class. measuring. look at it again and once more write down piece of paper. You will see the face seen all the words. fire or patches on walls is together or fold them to show just one picture. a face. all the words you can see. you arrange them so that perfectly because the light is coming through they tell the story so you can read it. flying crumpled it into a ball. Put the paper against a window with the drawing ■■ You keep on doing this until you are sure you have of the face against the glass.’ ‘He’s made Clouds seen through the window himself invisible. the translucency of paper is a nuisance! the words and phrases that you see. not elusive 14 in one of my classes: on a screen. Then. ‘He is going to make himself invisible. this can be done Here is an extreme idea. this for twenty years! Most activities in the classroom are forgotten after twenty minutes! 20 |  Medium: companion or slave? . be seen. What a wrong with that! concentrated grammar focus practice! Time- However. When we Illustrations in this paper are by Andrew Wright use A4 paper for making notes we normally start The students make these ‘tense form cards’ and writing at the top and work to the bottom. nose.’ ‘He is making himself invisible. We normally use A4 paper in computer printouts and in photocopying.

He points to each feature on the face and says the word for it in English. torn. and he can then check the accuracy of the word The child can hop a negative sentence by hopping which A says. and then back with paper. etc. a dialogue. the floorboards. the child hops onto square 1 saying. This. B sits on In this example. A sits with his back to the light and looking at the face. ‘like’. Stairs invite words or phrases to be written on each step: a story. for example. Play feet on either side of square 2. bags. can be used in language teaching. onto square 1. see Wright (1989). proverbs. The ceiling? How about a mobile slowly swinging round with different word cards slowly spinning round? The school Corridors invite time lines illustrating events for storytelling and for the use of tense forms. Other materials? The chalkboard. ‘I’. ‘don’t’. ‘like’ and then onto the you will get an idea for how each bit of playfulness third square. then onto square 2 saying. boxes. He cannot see the words written on the other side of the paper because the light is behind him. and then jumping down with both Paper can be folded. For more on using paper creatively. ‘coffee’. Hopscotch in the playground The game of hopscotch is played all over the world: chalked on the path or yard or scratched in the bare earth. tiles or earth floor. particularly for children. 3 or 4 or 5 choosing his or her favourite drink or food He also sees the shadow of A’s finger touch a feature or animal. cardboard rolls. the other side of the paper and sees the face through ‘I’. string. cut and crumpled. then onto square the paper and the words on his side of the paper. furniture. washing lines and pegs: each has its own character and with empathetic appreciation can offer all kinds of ‘events’ for language use. see what it likes to do and then perhaps with one foot onto square 2. jokes! Medium: companion or slave?  | 21 . is a perfect way of practising sentence patterns! Pairs sit facing each other.

Instead of chalked hopscotch, use a tiled floor The students can work in groups in order to make
or corridor with pictures and words on each tile. a class collection of a wide variety of wildlife in the
Tiled floors can also be used as giant language area of the school. An exhibition can be held in the
game boards. local community centre using real objects, posters,
diagrams and stories.
Other things
■■ The life of the school, for describing everyday Conclusion
activities and for special events; a school One way of being able to create fresh activities which
newspaper. engage the students so that the language associated
■■ Growing plants and keeping school pets: recording with the classroom activities is experienced rather
their lives, care, problems, rates of growth, etc. than only studied is for the teacher to have an
empathetic awareness of the character of media
■■ Making a sundial for telling the time.
and materials available. Openness to potential is a
■■ Using a mirror to reflect the light onto everything
fundamental characteristic of creativity, hence, the
which can be seen; naming places and using
title of my chapter, ‘Medium: companion or slave?’.
■■ Trees or high buildings and working out their References
height by using the triangulation method:
Gladwell, M (2006) Blink. London: Penguin.
measuring the distance to the base of the tree
and measuring the angle from the beginning Graham, C (1978) Jazz Chants. Oxford: Oxford
of the base line. University Press.
■■ Making a pile of stones and guessing how Graham, C (2006) Creating Chants and Songs.
many there are. Choosing stones to represent Oxford: Oxford University Press.
characters in a story: creating the story and
telling it using the stones. A class of 100 students, Heathfield, D (2014) Storytelling with Our Students.
working in groups of five, would mean 20 stories Peaslake: Delta.
from 20 different collections of stones. Having Hillyard, S. Available online at: http://susanhillyard.
invented the story, every student in each group
must try telling it to his or her group and then
when everybody can tell their story, every student Luther King, M (1963) The ‘I have a dream speech’
must retell their story, at least five times, to by Martin Luther King, made in Washington, on
students from other groups. August 28 1963.
■■ Collect a large number of stones and write a Lutzker, P (2007) The Art of Foreign Language
word on each one – make sentences, tell stories. Teaching. Tubingen und Basel: Francke Verlag.
■■ Clay, for making people and objects which can MacGregor, N (2012) A History of the World in
be used to illustrate situations and stories. 100 Objects. London: Penguin Books.

The neighbourhood Maley, A and Duff, A (2005, third edition) Drama
Techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maley, A (2000) The Language Teacher’s Voice.
Nature is all around even in poor areas of the world Oxford: Macmillan.
and even in the centre of every city. Nature is
‘material’ plentifully available to the teacher and is Maley, A and Duff, A (1989) The Inward Ear.
usually not even noticed, let alone used as a medium, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
topic or material. For example, the present habitual Ur, P and Wright, A (1992) Five Minute Activities.
tense is useful in describing the repeated actions of Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
insects, animals, birds and plants. Migrating birds can
lead to a study of maps, countries, distances and Wright, A (1989) Pictures for Language Learning.
months of the year. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

22 |  Medium: companion or slave?

Wright, A (1997) Creating Stories with Children.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wright, A (2008, second edition) Storytelling with
Children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wright, A (2014) Creativity in the Classroom. Godollo:
International Languages Institute.

Wright, A, Betteridge, D and Buckby, M (2006, third
edition) Games for Language Learning. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Wright, A and Hill, D (2008) Writing Stories. Rum:
Helbling Languages.

Andrew Wright studied painting at the Slade School
of Fine Art, University College London, and he
studied the history of art under Professor EH
Gombrich. He is an author, illustrator, teacher trainer,
storyteller and teacher. As an author and illustrator
he has published with Oxford University Press, for
example, Storytelling with Children, with Cambridge
University Press, for example, Five Minute Activities,
and with Helbling Languages, Writing Stories. As an
author and illustrator he has also worked for BBC TV,
ITV and WDR, in Germany. As a teacher trainer and
storyteller he has worked in over 40 countries.
As a teacher he is currently working in Budapest.

Medium: companion or slave?  | 23

Challenging teachers to use their
coursebook creatively
Brian Tomlinson

Introduction activities are completely closed in that they require
the one and only correct answer, two of them are
For me, fostering learner creativity is a vital role
semi-open in that the topic and structure of the
for any teacher, as doing so can help learners to
learner utterance is prescribed but slots are left
develop predictive, analytical, critical and problem-
open, and one is almost open in that learners are
solving skills, to develop confidence and to develop
invited to ‘Tell other students your ideas.’ When
self-esteem. Fostering creativity is even more
writing textbooks myself I have tried to provide a
important for a teacher of a second or foreign
lot of open-ended activities but have nearly always
language as it can help to achieve the affective
been prevented by my editor, who has usually told
and cognitive engagement vital for language
me that teachers want closed questions because
acquisition as well as helping learners to understand
they can use them as tests. If you have experienced
language used for natural communication and to use
the many education systems and institutions around
language for effective communication themselves.
the world which demand regular testing of their
Teachers of EFL therefore need to be creative in
students, you will understand the teachers’ needs
order to encourage their learners to be creative too.
and the publishers’ reasons for catering for them.
I have been involved in teacher training/teacher
But this does not mean that every teacher has to be
development for over 50 years in many different
ruled by assessment. The teacher can very easily
countries and I have yet to work on or visit a course
open up the closed activities which they are not
where developing teacher creativity is an objective
using for testing and in so doing can increase their
or is even encouraged.
enjoyment of teaching and their students’ chances
Most language teachers still rely on coursebooks to of acquiring language and developing skills.
provide the activities they will use in the classroom
The numerous ways of opening up closed activities
and most coursebooks do not typically provide
is the focus of this chapter, and I am going to discuss
activities which foster creativity (Tomlinson and
and exemplify them by reporting a mini-case study
Masuhara, 2013). It is therefore important that
I conducted in Bogotá, Colombia.
teachers make use of their coursebook as a resource
rather than follow it as a script and that they develop
the confidence, awareness and creativity to adapt The case study
coursebook activities in ways which can foster Prior to a workshop session on adapting the
creativity. One way of adapting coursebooks so that coursebook for English teachers at Universidad
they foster creativity is by opening up their closed Javeriana in Bogotá in May 2014, I asked the
activities so that they invite a variety of personal participants by email to form pairs and then in each
responses instead of requiring all the learners to pair to suggest adaptations for using a page from
give the same correct answer. If you open any global a global coursebook which I provided (selected
EFL coursebook at a random page you will find that at random from a recent coursebook on my study
most of the activities on that (and every other) page shelf). I suggested they spend only 15–30 minutes on
are closed. I have just opened an intermediate level the task and I gave them a table to use in noting and
global coursebook published in 2012 and picked at explaining their adaptations. I did not ask them to be
random from my shelf. I have turned to page 72 and I creative or to foster creativity in their learners.
have counted ten student activities. Seven of these

24 |  Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively

instruction book which comes with the printer.’ for use with a class of learners of English in Colombia. ■■ The teacher tells ‘humorous’ stories before asking I did not ask them to be creative or to foster the students to read an uninspiring story in their creativity in their learners. Just read the closed activities in their coursebooks. For example. (13 pairs gave me a pre-workshop adaptation and 15 pairs handed in a post-workshop adaptation). You were usually bored and demotivated by all the could easily do it yourself though. In the last 15 minutes of the workshop I asked the ‘Thanks very much’. For example. ■■ the taking of risks Lead-in texts ■■ affective engagement ■■ The teacher tells a relevant and ideally bizarre ■■ cognitive engagement ‘personal’ story before asking the students to ■■ being different. 2014) ■■ personal response to meaning and all of which I would recommend teachers to ■■ language discovery by the learners use in order to open up their coursebooks for ■■ authentic communication their students. Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively  | 25 . If you bring it in it’ll cost you £50. I’m not great with computers. In every case they were shop and asked them what I should do. ‘But does your boss participants to sit in the same pairs they had done know you’re helping people like this?’ the pre-workshop task in and I gave them a new task ‘Oh yes. I then coursebooks which I have been using in my teaching demonstrated how the use of coursebooks could for many years. We find we can in which they had to come up with ideas for adapting charge even more if customers try to fix things a different page from the same global coursebook themselves first. exemplified by me acting as the teacher and the course participants being the students. ‘Your printer probably just needs and engaging their students. workshop was interactive. the teacher tells these After the workshop I compared the adaptations ‘stories’ about misunderstandings before the suggested by each pair in the pre-workshop task students read a story about a misunderstanding with those they suggested in the post-workshop task in their coursebook. The Being pretty ancient. When I met this group of teachers in Bogotá I Ways of opening up closed activities thanked them for doing the task and I collected in These are the ways of opening up closed activities their task sheets. Then I led a two-hour workshop which I demonstrated in my workshop in Bogotá. read a rather dull text in the coursebook. the teacher tells the following story My demonstration included 11 different types before asking the students to read a passage of adaptation of closed activities from currently about the advantages and disadvantages of ‘popular’ British coursebooks. coursebook. So I phoned my local computer repair effect with their students. during which we discussed the value of creative They are creative ways of adapting prosaic language teaching and what this involves. who they disclosed cleaning. some of which I also advocated and become more creative by replacing or modifying demonstrated in a symposium with the Creativity closed activities with open activities which Group on Creative Use of the Coursebook at the encourage: IATEFL Conference in Harrogate in 2014 (Maley. each one being modern technology.’ he said. with the participants Last week I printed something out and the type was discussing the activities and evaluating their likely very faint. I said. The guy on optimistic about the potential effect of enlivening the phone said. ‘It’s his idea.

‘A boy or a girl. They modify. being (Tomlinson. as the teacher reads it aloud as dramatically as Is the technology working well? Are you happy possible. all of a sudden.’ I replied. ‘I see. do you want?’ 3. In life we often listen to one story and hear another. ‘I only asked what you want to drink. when reading a passage about These are activities which get students to think about a park in China which activates spikes when their own experiences so as to activate their minds somebody sits on a bench for too long. sitting down on a bench. topic or location of a text in teacher actually acts out going to the park. in the transcripts of 2. ■■ The teacher acts out a text from the coursebook. ‘A bigger house. 12-year-old students to decide which activities they Here’s an example: wanted to use with texts from their coursebook. In pairs find examples of words which are help him. For have you got?’ example.13 and 2. For homework. The students develop activities for their peers to do impatiently. 2. I knew that shark wasn’t going to 1. For activities in the coursebook. Each I was out having a meal last night with my long-term Friday one group would meet the teacher and give girlfriend when. disadvantages of ‘modern technology’ tell students to: ■■ The students act out a text from the coursebook ‘See a picture in your mind of you using technology. girlfriend shrieked.’ says the barman. being the coursebook they are going to be asked to read tired. greedy and rich brother.’ says the barman. For example. less patiently.’ says the barman. healthy. before or replace the closed testing or teaching as personal questions to the brothers. I don’t care. Use them to disappear and for my child to be born healthy!’ check and revise your discoveries in 2 above. jumping students to read a text about the advantages and up and running away.’ The following examples of coursebook modifications What are all these examples of? It’s a word are those I demonstrated with the teachers in the beginning with M. come asks the yes/no questions from the coursebook. find other examples of the ‘To win the lottery. patiently. for my mother-in-law to comparative and superlative.g. They are told to ‘Oh. ‘I meant what in the team’. before reading aloud a with it?’ Korean folk tale about a hard-working but poor ‘Tell a partner about this experience with farmer and his lazy. Why didn’t you say so? What make their activities challenging and interesting. 148. ‘What would I like?’ says Bob.’ my the following Monday. screaming with pain.’ teacher divides the class into two halves and tells one half to act out what the hard-working brother Discovery activities does and the other half to act out what the lazy These are activities which help students to discover brother does. ‘He’s taller than me’ and the superlative ‘He’s the tallest player ‘No. Example: Here are two examples: ‘What are the comparatives and superlatives I saw a man at the beach yelling ‘Help.’ Peer activities ‘You misunderstand me. the in relation to the theme. 26 |  Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively . ‘but I’m sure they’ve of coursebook activities seen somebody tie their shoelace before. ‘OK. ‘What’s it to be?’ says the barman. ‘I’m perfectly in New York into a scene from a film set in their town. Readiness activities For example. things for themselves about language features After this dramatisation of the text the teacher highlighted in their coursebook. falling asleep.’ says Bob. shark! Help!’ of the adjectives in the table?’ changes to: I just laughed.’ in relation to a text in the passage. ‘let me get my phone so I can show my mum and remember the moment for the Examples of modifications rest of my life’.’ of forming the comparative. For example. 2013).’ One creative teacher I observed in Jakarta got her And some people look at one event and see another. I got out of my chair her the activities they wanted her to use in class on and slowly got down on one knee. 52 and ‘What would you like?’ says the barman. the technology. workshop in Bogotá. e.14 on p. before getting woken up by spikes. comparing things in the passage on p. one group asked another group to turn the description in the coursebook of a robbery in a mall ‘Nothing at all. ‘Oh my god. Use the examples to write about the different ways more money and a more attractive wife.

Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively  | 27 . in a dialogue in which A is a salesman in add more activities to them.’ to the students. average of 5. in my perspective or in a different culture or location. dog. Of their 45 suggestions. which makes use of these words a very old person). from a drill: Cycle.’ more activities to them. the Other creative adaptations I have made to teacher asks ‘Were you lazy? Why?’ coursebooks include: Then. can’t. On ended activities and ten would be likely to stimulate Thursday. the teachers in Bogotá came up with an –– ‘In pairs. Twenty-five of the additions cycling in the clouds and was washed off my bike involved student activity and 12 provided extra help by a lion who was cleaning a rainbow. the teacher asks the students in ■■ the students interviewing characters from a text character to think about what they have learned. for adaptation ‘It’s not been a great week to be a cyclist. instead of asking the question from the ■■ the students drawing their interpretation of a coursebook about the lessons to be learned text rather than answering questions about it from the story. competition by getting each group to develop The students in groups then write and perform an extra question to challenge their peers with another bizarre story using the same words. rainbow. All 99 of the additions involved student Changes to: activity and six of them involved the teacher being creative too. a headmaster. but not the experience of using a coursebook much more many were direct imitations of my procedures.’ creativity. On When asked before the workshop to adapt a page Monday I went cycling in a thunderstorm and was from a global coursebook to make it more suitable blown off my bike. It was noticeable that only two deletions –– ‘Use ‘can’t’ and ‘because’ to complete each of were suggested and that most of the pairs intended the sentences. a shoe shop and B is the customer. tornado. ■■ the students developing a text by. Many of the additions and The examples above of additions and modifications modifications were driven by the principles I had are easy to think of and to apply and yet they make applied in my workshop demonstrations. Of their 101 Complete the sentences with: can. creative and potentially much more enjoyable and rewarding for both the teacher and the students. chores.5 adaptations per pair.g. Or in a dialogue in which A asks B how The post-workshop suggestions to operate her new office computer. the teacher performs the voices (e. B is told that for adaptation he is in love with A but she doesn’t know this. On Wednesday came up with an average of 3. 16 would add open- bike by a dog who was vacuuming the floor. experience. from what happened to them. have suggestions 99 would add open-ended activities to or don’t have to. for example. On Tuesday I went cycling in a for Colombian students. vacuum. clouds. re-writing it from a different small changes are easy to make and.5 adaptations per I went cycling in the gym and was knocked off my pair.’ and all 99 would be likely to stimulate student –– ‘You keep quiet in the library. cycling. the teachers in Bogotá tornado and was lifted off my bike. When given 15 minutes at the end of the workshop ■■ The students find ways in which wrong answers to adapt a different page from the same global could become right. It was noticeable that only three deletions were suggested and that most of the pairs ■■ The students perform dialogues in character. bike. For intended to retain all the coursebook activities but example. For example. story below. The pre-workshop suggestions gym. example. This ■■ the teacher giving the students the way the students hear and pronounce the target comprehension questions and getting them sounds many times in ways more engaging and to create the text memorable than repeating them without context ■■ groups of students chanting out a drill in different in a drill. These continuing it. a very young child.’ to retain all the coursebook activities but add –– ‘You keep quiet in the library. decide on the rules for a library. thunderstorm. A is told that he is the ex-husband of B and has not seen her since the divorce. Example: coursebook to make it more suitable for Colombian students. responding to it with a letter or email ■■ The teacher writes and performs a bizarre ■■ the teacher turning a closed activity into a story using the words of a coursebook drill. if anything. bring the story to memorable life. instead of asking ‘Was X lazy?’. after doing my household chores. I went student creativity. cyclist.

a Visiting that the teachers were able to dramatically improve Professor at the University of Liverpool and at Leeds activities from a global coursebook in just 15 minutes Metropolitan University. B and Masuhara. for further trainer. however. B (2014) Teacher growth through primary teachers and Vietnamese university materials development. I Faversham: IATEFL. He is involved teachers developing new materials. ■■ participant adaptation and justification of materials resemble some of those I had demonstrated in other provided by the trainer workshops in the same university in the same week. football coach and discussion of the value of materials development university academic in Indonesia. I expected an increase in self-esteem than they would from months of lectures teacher creativity between the pre-workshop (Tomlinson. curriculum developer. included in all teacher training. I would also recommend the Linguistics and Materials Development. A (2014) ‘Creativity for a change’. All you need is to provide teachers with of Applied Linguistics and TEFL 3/2: 89–106. Singapore. workshops for teacher development). teacher education Developing Materials for Language Teaching. Language Teaching. learned by now not to underestimate teachers. following workshop structure: ■■ trainer demonstration of creatively adapted materials ■■ participant discussion of the principles and procedures which drove the adapted materials ■■ trainer presentation of other principles and procedures of creative adaptation with exemplification of each one 28 |  Challenging teachers to use their coursebook creatively . ELT Journal 67/2: 233–249. Indonesian junior high school in Tomlinson. creative adaptation of coursebook material be Materials Development in Language Teaching. He has over 100 publications or other time-consuming preparations. T both in variety and in quality. and teacher development workshops and courses. UK. Some of the suggested procedures did. and they will be creative in providing opportunities for their students to be profitably Brian Tomlinson has worked as a teacher. London: Bloomsbury. Japan. new learning experiences. language Recommendations awareness and teacher development. including I would strongly recommend that sessions on Discover English (with Rod Bolitho). Vanuatu and Zambia as well other workshops and projects I have listed above as giving presentations in over 70 countries. Most of the Oman. inexperienced or Learning (with Hitomi Masuhara) and Applied experienced teachers. and a TESOL Professor at and in ways which did not involve cutting and pasting Anaheim University. adaptation task and the end of the workshop adaptation task but I was delighted just how large References the increase was and how rich the adaptations were Maley. Turkish EAP teachers. ■■ post-workshop participant adaptation of materials but interestingly with different groups of teachers they are using with their students and student teachers. confidence and all my expectations. Nigeria. Namibian senior high school teachers. get them to reflect on the principles driving those experiences and stimulate Tomlinson. teacher creative too (see Tomlinson. B (2013) ‘Materials development courses’. ■■ revision of the adapted materials. on materials development. But then I should have (ed) IATEFL 2014 Harrogate Conference Selections. Openings. Ni-Vanuatu remote island Tomlinson. in Pattison. the teaching of reading. language through literature. primary teachers. 2013). B (ed) Developing Materials for teachers. H (2013) Adult them to design principled learning experiences for coursebooks. I had not referred to these ■■ while-use and post-use evaluations of the adapted procedures in my creative adaptation workshop and materials developed above they had featured in demonstrations of original units of material rather than adaptations of material. The European Journal teachers. knew this already from workshops and projects with such different groups of teachers as rural Botswana Tomlinson. their students. What Founder and President of MATSDA (the international was so remarkable about the Bogotá workshop was Materials Development Association). 2014. Including such sessions can help the participants to Conclusion achieve more understanding and more awareness The effect of my workshop demonstrations exceeded as well as develop more creativity. Research for Materials Development in Language whether they be for aspiring.

Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT
Carol Read

Introduction Foundations of creativity in primary ELT
Creativity is often described as thinking ‘out of the When laying the foundations for developing
box’, coming up with fresh, divergent responses, children’s creativity in the primary foreign language
original ideas and objects, new solutions to classroom, there are a number of general factors to
problems, or ways of looking at problems. keep in mind:
Children who learn English as a foreign language ■■ Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is
at primary school may have limited language skills always something that stimulates and underpins
but they come to class full of creative potential. the generation of children’s original thinking, such
By establishing a classroom environment in which as an idea, picture, text, story, object, question
the development of creativity is fostered from the or problem, or some combination of these.
start, the experience of learning another language
■■ Creative thinking arises from the emotional
is considerably enhanced. Through the integration
quality of children’s engagement and involvement
of creative thinking in English lessons, children
in an activity. This leads to a state of ‘flow’
develop relevant cognitive skills, such as observing,
(Csikszentmihalyi, 1996) in which children’s
questioning, comparing, contrasting, imagining and
attention is positively focused on a personalised
hypothesising, that they need in all areas of the
goal and they feel motivated to achieve a
curriculum. They also develop metacognitive skills,
particular creative outcome.
such as an ability to evaluate and reflect critically
on their own performance and learning outcomes. ■■ Children need a framework in which to develop
In addition, the development of creativity in the creative thinking skills, and it is usually helpful to
primary ELT classroom: provide a model or build up an example outcome
with the whole class first. The framework delimits
■■ increases children’s engagement and motivation
the scope of an activity and allows children to
in studying a foreign language
focus on their ideas. The model or example
■■ makes language learning enjoyable and memorable provides necessary language support.
■■ gives children a sense of ownership and a feeling ■■ Creativity involves the opportunity to play with
of success ideas freely and spontaneously. At the same time,
■■ allows for divergent responses and, for children it involves disciplined thinking, curiosity, and
who may be strong in other areas of the attention to detail and effort. It also needs to be
curriculum, e.g. art, music or dance, to use these underpinned by the development of specific
to support their learning strategies and skills.
■■ promotes children’s ability to think in a flexible way ■■ Creativity is best fostered by the development
■■ provides a personalised challenge of a ‘growth mind-set’ (Dweck, 2006) in which
children are encouraged to believe that they can
■■ develops qualities such as patience, persistence
improve their performance and achieve better
and resourcefulness
outcomes through their own effort, persistence
■■ provides a basis for the development of more and hard work. One way this can be achieved is
sophisticated, conceptual and abstract creative through constructive feedback and praise, which
thinking in future. focuses on the effort children make to be creative
rather than on their innate talents (ibid.).

Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT  | 29

Big ‘C’ and little ‘c’ creativity By using English as the main language of
communication in the classroom, you will naturally
There are two types of creativity that have been
provide opportunities for little ‘c’ creativity. It is also
identified in an educational context: big ‘C’ and little
worth systematically planning for little ‘c’ creativity
‘c’ creativity (Craft, 2005). In the primary ELT
in lessons at appropriate moments, such as when
classroom, big ‘C’ creativity refers to learning
you brainstorm what children know about a topic,
outcomes, which are new and original for a child in
find out their opinions, or ask for their personal
terms of their current age, stage of development
response to a story. By responding to children’s
and level of English, and are valued as such by the
meanings, and using techniques such as remodelling
teacher. An example of big ‘C’ creativity in a primary
and recasting, rather than insisting on language
ELT classroom is the following poem about a conker
accuracy and correcting every mistake, you will
by two 11-year-old boys (Read, 2007: 83):
encourage children to use and acquire language
Conker in a natural, creative and memorable way.
From a chestnut tree
In autumn Seven pillars of creativity
On the ground The establishment of a classroom learning
environment, in which both types of creativity
Round and brown
flourish, needs careful nurturing and doesn’t just
Hard and shiny happen by itself. The seven pillars of creativity
The winter is coming are a series of generic considerations, which enable
I feel cold and sad. you to develop creativity in your classroom whatever
age and level of children you teach, and whether
Little ‘c’ creativity refers to the process of children or not you are using a coursebook and digitally
creatively constructing and communicating meaning sophisticated materials or no technology at all. The
in the everyday, interactional context of the seven pillars are rooted in educational literature on
classroom using the foreign language repertoire creativity (Craft, 2005; Fisher, 2005a; Fisher, 2005b)
that they currently have available. This kind of but above all based on many years of classroom
creativity involves children in predicting, guessing, experience. The section on each pillar contains a
hypothesising and risk-taking as well as using non- rationale for its inclusion followed by practical ideas
verbal communication, such as mime and gesture. and activities for immediate classroom use.
In order to establish a classroom environment
where creativity thrives, it is important to provide Pillar one: build up positive self-esteem
opportunities for both kinds of creativity. In the Self-esteem is characterised by five components:
case of big ‘C’ creativity, this means planning and a sense of security, a sense of identity, a sense
structuring lessons in ways that systematically equip of belonging, a sense of purpose and a sense of
children with the skills and strategies they need in personal competence (Reasoner, 1982). If children
order to be able to achieve a creative outcome in feel threatened or insecure and lack a sense of
relation to the topic and their current language level. personal competence, this acts as a barrier to
This may be expressed through writing, acting, creativity. By building up children’s positive self-
music, art, dance, multimedia, or any combination esteem through recognising their individual
of these, and the outputs may take a wide variety strengths, valuing their contributions, respecting
of forms such as poetry, riddles, stories, role plays, divergent views and establishing a classroom
sketches, dances, posters, paintings, videos or community in which collaboration and interaction
multimedia project presentations. In the case of are the norm, children are more likely to engage in
little ‘c’ creativity, it is important to provide frequent the kind of fluent and flexible thinking, as well as the
opportunities where you ‘loosen the reins’ in terms willingness to take risks, that characterise creativity.
of language practice and children experience
You can build up children’s positive self-esteem in
using any and all the language they currently have
ways that permeate your whole teaching approach
available in real communicative situations in a variety
and transmit to children that you care about them
of contexts. When given regular opportunities to
and value them as members of the class. You can
construct and communicate their own personal
also use a range of specific activities and procedures
meanings, children usually prove creative and
to build up different aspects of self-esteem. Three
resourceful, and this helps to develop their
examples are:
fluency and self-confidence.

30 |  Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT

Self-esteem fan ■■ One child pretends to serve and says, e.g. I’m good
Use this activity to help children to develop a positive at swimming. Their partner pretends to hit the ball
sense of identity. back and says, e.g. I’m good at dancing. The pairs
continue taking turns to say sentences about what
■■ Give each child a sheet of A4 or A5 paper. they’re good at in the same way and make their
Ask children to fold the paper concertina-style rally as long as possible.
to make a fan and demonstrate this. They should
■■ At the end, children report back to their partner
have as many folds as letters in their first name.
to check they can remember, e.g. You’re good at….
■■ Children write the letters of their name at the top They can also tell the class, e.g. Marco is good at…/
of each section of the fan. They think of a positive We’re both good at…
adjective about themselves, which starts with
each letter, and write this vertically on the fan, Pillar two: model creativity yourself
e.g. Helena – Hardworking, Enthusiastic, Lively,
An essential rule-of-thumb for developing any skill or
Energetic, Nice, Active.
quality in others is to model it yourself. For example,
■■ Children compare their fans and say why they have if you want children to be polite and show respect,
chosen the adjectives, e.g. I think I’m hardworking then you need to be polite and show them respect
because I always do my homework. too. By the same token, in order to encourage
■■ Children illustrate and colour their fans. The fans children to see things in new ways, explore ideas
can be displayed and also used or referred to and come up with original outcomes, it also helps if
whenever children need reminding of their you model creative processes in the way you teach.
positive characteristics. These can be reflected in many ways, for example,
how you motivate and engage children, the kinds
Circle time of tasks and activities you offer, how you cater for
Use circle time to personalise learning, foster a individual differences and diversity, and the way you
sense of security and belonging, and encourage manage and organise your class. It is often useful to
social skills such as listening to others, turn-taking, think about how you can be creative in small ways in
cooperating and showing respect for views which the routine aspects of teaching. Here are some ideas:
are different from your own.
Lining up
■■ Children sit or stand in a circle. Have a soft ball
This can typically waste time and be dull. So why
or other item ready to pass round the circle.
not think of little challenges to make it more creative,
■■ Children take turns to pass the ball or other item e.g. lining up in alphabetical order of first names or
round the circle and complete a sentence. This surnames, either forwards or backwards, lining up
can relate to a text, topic, story or personal in order of height or age or month of birthday. Once
feelings and be graded appropriately to the age children have got the idea, they will almost certainly
and level of the children, e.g. I like…, I feel happy/ suggest other ideas as well.
sad/angry when…, I think the story/video/poem is…,
I think wild animals are in danger/we need to save Taking the register
water/global warming is worrying because… Rules This can be made more creative by relating it to
of circle time are that you only speak when it is vocabulary that children are learning. As you go
your turn, you can say ‘Pass’ if you have nothing through the register, children respond by naming
to say, or use your mother tongue if you need to. e.g. an animal. Children need to listen to what others
When the focus of circle time is on a particular say, as no repetitions are allowed. By varying the
topic or issue, such as the latter examples above, order in which you call the names on the register,
you may like to note children’s responses on the this allows you to make it easier for some children
board in a mind map (see Pillar six) and use this and more challenging for others. Alternatively,
afterwards to get children to write about the topic. you can pre-assign an animal to each child in the
register. When you call out the name of their animal,
Word tennis
children respond by naming its baby, e.g. Dog!
Use a version of this game to reinforce children’s Puppy!/Tiger!/Cub! You can also do this with, e.g.
sense of personal competence as well as listening names of countries and languages or capital cities,
and turn-taking skills. e.g. France – French! or Paris!; Argentina – Spanish!
■■ Divide children into pairs. or Buenos Aires!

Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT  | 31

to macro-decisions such children in each lesson an opportunity to share as choosing topics to study. salty/swimming. dog/cat. e. e. children learn to take well as provide opportunities for personalisation responsibility for their decisions. Write a list of. Children go to the side of the room is not settling down to work. e. e. a allow children to choose the friends they work with bell. Children start with their hands on Format freedom their shoulders. They also have an emotional investment = Too loud!. e. instead of telling him or of the colour they prefer. three of and use these to change the mood or as a warmer. a dialogue. Whenever possible. children cross format for their work. children generally feel more football. you might say. for example.g. e. the Although not always desirable. With older children an opening lesson choice in a range of ways from micro-decisions. actions and is an active and enjoyable way to practise spelling. in the case of a child who side of the room. and children whether to. it is beneficial to signal you use to get attention. apple. a special gesture. For consonants with a work. Either you spell words it may be appropriate to ask children to choose children know in chorus. children stretch Similarly. ‘t’. Learning routines Pillar three: offer children choice Learning routines make children feel secure as By offering them choice. they take turns to spell poem or a story review. hot. children with a stalk above the line. or from. or counting down to zero from at times. 32 |  Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT . a familiar with the activity. e. For consonants and effort.’ and point to either behaviour. What would you prefer to do? Would bike. For example. a poster.g. ‘red… blue.. e. Our quiet voices! Lesson menu It is also useful to have ‘up your sleeve’ simple. countryside. when giving a personal response to a story. Children usually find having and guess words in pairs or groups.. or ‘q’. e./My favourite T-shirt is red. or a newspaper report. ‘d’. stalk below the line. This represents the line on the page.g. write a letter to. Say two words from the same category for their decisions and to regulate their own or lexical set. Ask children to choose. be a powerful tool in behaviour management too. e.g. closing or revision activity. Offering choice can their personal news with the class. You can vary develop autonomy and have control of their learning. the choice energising.g. a digital presentation or a video. routine such as ‘News of the Day’ gives different such as who to work with. learning routines appropriately with different ages This leads to a sense of ‘ownership’ and motivation and levels. I see you haven’t started other and explain the reasons. e. You can offer children actions. enjoyable opening lesson routine is a rhythmic gym Exercising choice also helps to make learning more sequence in which you cumulatively add different personalised and memorable. Some examples for offering choice are as follows: Classroom management You may like to think about creative techniques to Friendship groupings manage your classes effectively. orange = Turn the volume down!. Children then talk to each her off. e. five activities to do in the lesson creative ideas that need no materials or preparation on the board. or a ‘noisometer’ based on traffic lights: red motivated. one of the do the actions for each letter or. cycling/seaside. By choosing behaviour include a yellow and red card system as in whom to work with.g. They also begin to and natural acquisition of language. allow children to choose the For vowels or consonants like ‘m’ or ‘n’. their arms down to the floor. children can choose the format in which to present their raise their arms in the air. For example. fruit juice/ you prefer to stay behind and do it at break time? The sweet. For example. Children also often voluntarily choose to of lower-case letters in the alphabet with physical do the most challenging activities. This encourages both creativity their hands to the other shoulder. Other examples of creative ideas for managing sure that no child ever feels left out).g. for projects (at the same time making five. and put greater effort and Red or blue creative thinking into their work as a result. you will find that they Spelling gym usually work in a more motivated and attentive way than if you impose a lockstep progression through This activity helps children associate the shape activities. ‘p’. or ‘h’. e. a tambourine. for group projects. Repeat with other you like to do the activity now in our lesson? Or would vocabulary.g.g. once children are characters. ‘j’. with younger children an to go the extra mile to produce creative work.g. I’ve got a blue the activity yet. This activity allows for a personal response to familiar Behaviour choices vocabulary. green = in making the collaboration work successfully.g. Two of my favourites are: By giving children choice. Children stand in the middle of the Offering choice helps children to take responsibility classroom. them and explain that they can do them in any order.g.g. cold/milk.

is often prevalent in effort./Explain how different parts of the story relate to each other. grade and sequence done in the lesson and comply with what you want. Lessons that include close down thinking. This is divided rather than an obligation that has been imposed. evaluating and creating lead them to think creatively is an essential skill. probe and They also develop thinking skills that are transferable extend their thinking. Name… Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT  | 33 . if it’s the only question type used. Create: Invent a new ending. e. HOTS pattern of questions. and Pillar four: use questions effectively higher order thinking skills (HOTS). It is important to ask questions HOTS make learning more engaging and memorable. revised taxonomy to plan questions and scaffold thinking skills based on a story. it can to boredom and demotivation. Developing LOTS is vital for foreign language primary ELT lessons but has limited value. especially with younger if lessons never move beyond LOTS. You also need to give children across the curriculum and can lead to ‘flow’ sufficient thinking time to answer questions and (Csikszentmihalyi. 1996) and creative thinking. T: Yes. understanding and applying. Evaluate: Which part do you like/ don’t you like? Why/Why not? Analyse: Classify the characters. into lower order thinking skills (LOTS) identified as remembering. OR tell or rewrite from a different point of view. can encourage participation. which interest children and open up. which are The way you use questions to engage children and identified as analysing. this can lead children. it is this way. However. (ibid. Order… Match… Describe… Remember: Who…? What…? When…? Where…? Identify…. as the outcome is a choice skills (Anderson and Krathwohl. LOTS are essentially to do with recall. a role play. very good. In questions from easier to more challenging. Question staircase OR in another form.g. child will almost certainly choose to get the activity In order to differentiate. provide opportunities for them to construct and ask Below is an example of how you can use Bloom’s interesting and challenging questions themselves. e.). Apply: What would you do in the same situation? How would you feel? Understand: Why…? How…? What’s the main idea? Sequence…. T: What colour is the car? are more complex and demand greater cognitive P: It’s red. 2001).g. The stereotypical initiation-response-feedback (IRF) identification and basic comprehension. you avoid potential conflict and there is no helpful to use Bloom’s revised taxonomy of thinking loss of face for the child. Although it learning especially in the early stages.

You connections between present and previous learning. pineapple and grapes. Write words that children know useful to build up ideas collaboratively with the whole on small pieces of card and put them in a bag or hat. Choose one objects. experiment and helps to build children’s confidence and provides play with ideas. Children work in pairs and brainstorm all the Similarly. Write the name of the topic in the centre of the Children take turns to take three cards at random board. They can also make connections between English and their Pillar six: explore ideas own language and culture. For example. listen to the children’s ideas and add them to the map. can use a ruler as a sword. Who. heading at a time. They classroom. appearance. How. Some examples are: Mind maps Random association Mind mapping. creative mind-set. problem-solving tasks and activities in There are also specific activities that you can use which learners consider issues from different points to develop children’s ability to make connections of view all encourage exploration and lead to between ideas and objects and to think in divergent creative thinking. children can be encouraged to make different things you can use the object for. The ability to ask questions is an effective way of Children take turns to identify an odd one out.g. to practise this. rather than word cards. e. It is helpful to encourage children enjoyable way. similes.g. allows children to explore their thinking on a connections between things that don’t have an topic in a visually appealing way.g. which may be developed in one context or subject and In order to foster an open. peach. e. children identify an odd one out according map to write a description of elephants or make their to any criteria they can think of. based on the work of Tony Buzan This activity encourages children to make (2003). Children can then use the mind version. the activity can be done using five flashcards. Some examples of these are: and creative ways.g.g. size. and three initial headings to and make a sentence or invent a story that connects guide the children’s thinking. class. why they are in danger. metal coat hanger. melon. You can also do the same activity using small how they live. think it’s peach because peaches have a stone. after a story or topic-based work. Brainstorming techniques. e. you transferred and used in another. and between ideas learned from different can also draw pictures to illustrate their ideas. e.g. inventive thinking and between things generates ideas and underpins can be used to extend children’s vocabulary in an creative thinking. Pillar five: make connections How many ways? Making connections and seeing relationships This activity develops flexible. children have been learning about how fruit grows. Question dice e.g./I think Question dice can be a useful and enjoyable activity it’s strawberry because the seeds are on the outside. This activity typically has one right answer. Give children sentences to face where the dice lands. Children make dice out of paper or Comparative moments card and write a Wh-question word on each face: What. ruler. Asian etc.g. Choose an everyday object such as to make connections between home and school a paperclip. Where. 34 |  Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT . strawberry. if own mind map about another animal of their choice. Children work Playing with the use of simile develops flexible in pairs and take turns to roll the dice and ask their thinking skills and often produces creative and partner questions using the question word on the amusing outcomes. valued and judgement is withheld. or as A school is like a funfair because… Alternatively a way to get children to talk about and share children choose words and create their own personal information. e. where/ them. In this African. A lesson is like a sandwich because… / to do e. they use a dictionary to find them. This needs to be in an atmosphere the foundations for them to become increasingly of mutual respect where divergent views are adventurous and creative in work they produce. Homework is like a dessert when you aren’t hungry. Use different colour pens and Odd one out add sub-headings as appropriate. e. sources such as books and the internet. ‘Elephants’.g. If they don’t know words between experiences inside and outside the in English. and between skills. This activity is suitable complete. plastic cup. e. Why. colour. The awareness of need to regularly provide frameworks and stimuli connections between different areas of their lives that encourage learners to explore. When. I learning and also helps children think creatively. peg or as well as between subjects across the curriculum. Mind maps can be obvious connection.

e. we need to learning environment in which creativity flourishes. They Imagine that…! then compare and talk about the results. This forms part of a reflective learning cycle and over time leads to the development of enhanced creative thinking.g. Write the Self-assessment dictation topic in a circle. and through the regular use of learner diaries or self-assessment sheets. children take digital photos (Craft.g.). e. Five senses web This is a variation of the above activity. developing invite responses and compare if these are the same children’s creativity has many benefits for language or different to the ones they intended. and the is fun. They use Children reflect on the work they have produced and this as preparation for writing about the topic. e. a lack of time. The playground. Although there are often barriers to designed to encourage a particular response. Whatever the age Pillar seven: encourage critical reflection and level of children you work with. e. co-operated. performance. mark where they think they are on the continuum for each area. notebooks and write ‘yes’. cit. actions and outcomes. as part of promoting creativity. Wh-question web Reflective continuum Write the topic in a circle. developing creativity in primary ELT.g. ‘so-so’ and ‘no’ at the top taste. it is only through critical reflection that children can assess the validity and value of their own creative work. for how to go about it. Two examples of other activities that encourage critical reflection are: Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT  | 35 . op. and use the results to write a poem of ‘so-so’. e. What does the image foundations of creativity in the classroom and the make you think of? How does it make you feel? Why? difference between big ‘C’ and little ‘c’ creativity As a follow-up activity. I worked hard.g. Draw lines Ask children to make three columns in their from the circle and write: see. As well as being an integral part of developing learner autonomy. smell.g. general factors to bear in mind when laying the influence our feelings. Imagine that… animals ‘yes’ column next time? can talk/we don’t need to sleep/children rule the world/we live on Mars. touch. the circle: What? Why? When? How? Where? Who? I didn’t make an I did my best. It looks at awareness of how images. e. such as a rigid e. Use gesture to explain the meaning or collectively.g. or that a toy or game syllabus. learning and for developing broader educational objectives. Children take turns to share their images and washback effect of external exams. particularly in advertising./I or description. Children work in pairs and write questions they are effort interested in. and note and compare their questions and answers with the class. train children to evaluate and reflect critically on and to provide you with realistic and practical ideas their own ideas. Ask. hear. How many Use this activity to explore hypothetical possibilities sentences in the ‘so-so’ column can they move to the and elicit creative ideas. the seven pillars are designed to help you establish a classroom Finally. either individually of each one. Children note their ideas. Children listen and write the sentences in the column they think applies to their work. They then I didn’t use I used interesting do research using suitable websites you have interesting words words previously identified. Rainforests/The water Give children a sheet with four to six areas for cycle. Draw lines and write question words around reflection and self-assessment on a continuum. You can do this by reviewing learning outcomes against success criteria at the end of activity cycles and lessons. a dull coursebook. What happens? Conclusion Creative observation This chapter outlines the benefits of developing Use images to encourage creative thinking and an creative thinking skills in primary ELT.g. beginning with each word. Dictate sentences. to make you feel hungry. attitudes and values.

T (2003) Mind Maps for Kids. London: HarperCollins. second edition) Teaching Children to Learn. online storytelling and CLIL projects. Fisher. Buzan. supplementary materials. teacher educator. M (1996) Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. second edition) Teaching Children to Think. Teaching and Assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. from very young children to adults. which won a British Council ELTon. Carol is currently President of IATEFL. R (2005b. materials writer and consultant. She has taught students of all ages and levels. Carol’s award-winning titles include Bugs. New York: Longman. Oxford: Macmillan Education. Carol’s most recent publications are Footprints and Tiger Time. Carol has published extensively in the field of teaching English to young learners. London: Nelson Thornes. References Anderson. which was Highly Commended in the ESU Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Csikszentmihalyi. L and Krathwohl. Dweck. London: Nelson Thornes. London: HarperCollins. academic manager. New York: Random House. Craft. 36 |  Seven pillars of creativity in primary ELT . C (2006) Mindset. including coursebooks. Read. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press. as well as many articles on primary ELT. London: Routledge. Reasoner. D (eds) (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning. R (2005a. and 500 Activities for the Primary Classroom. Carol Read has over 30 years’ experience in ELT as a teacher. Fisher. A (2005) Creativity in Schools: Tensions and Dilemmas. C (2007) 500 Activities in the Primary Classroom. R (1982) Building Self-Esteem: A Comprehensive Program.

Then. Tishman. curious and questioning relationship to others ■■ wondering and asking questions and to the world. ibid. is present not only in terms of a 2000) involve elements such as: product. Thinking dispositions. ■■ making mistakes ■■ sharing thinking with others What is Visible Thinking? ■■ thinking about thinking (metacognition).. In this chapter I will be dealing ■■ observing closely and describing with how we can encourage creative thinking in the ■■ building explanations and interpretations English classroom by using artful/visual stimuli and ■■ reasoning with evidence the visible thinking approach. We are The underlying idea is to nurture students’ thinking so used to most of it staying out of sight that ‘we by ‘externalising’ it when they engage with content. the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Thinking is largely an internal process. that nurture a answers rather than just one. b) thinking is intricately connected to content and c) thinking does not happen in a linear manner (Ritchhart et al.visiblethinkingpz. important element in language learning which also a creative mind-set. Visible Thinking is a research-based approach that looks into how we can encourage learners’ Why make thinking visible? engagement. Making by making it visible. and sharing of results. 2003). independence and understanding. not just being skilled but also lies behind personal growth and the development alert to thinking and learning opportunities and of culture and society: thinking creatively. 4 Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set Chrysa Papalazarou Introduction Visible Thinking has a double goal: it deepens content learning and it fosters thinking skills By integrating creative activities in English language and dispositions. Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set  | 37 . we encourage learners to practise an ‘curiosity. then. a more practical part will follow with ■■ capturing the heart and forming conclusions suggestions on how the approach can be useful in ■■ looking for many possible answers rather the English classroom. Creative eager to take them’ (Visible Thinking website: thinking involves a focus on exploring ideas. The approach stems from students’ thinking visible is about getting an insight Project Zero. an educational research group at into what and how they understand something. creative mind-set (Ritchhart et al. looking for many right or alternatively habits of mind. concern for truth and understanding. don’t notice its invisibility’ (Perkins... Creativity. we are giving them more to build principal ideas are important here: a) learning is on and learn from. but in a process that promotes a more open. the outcome of thinking. First. 2011). This part draws on classroom than one experience from working on a project with sixth ■■ not jumping into judgment quickly grade primary school students (11 years old) in a state school in Greece. generating possibilities. Three When we do so. I will briefly describe Visible Thinking and its link to creative ■■ making connections thinking. These are dispositions such as teaching.

they become more actively involved. while paper on the walls. attentive and concentrated. They feel they write with a purpose. The two groups I worked with each consisted of 21 mixed-ability students aged 11. self- thinking programme. make connections. and in nurturing a creative mind-set. and Visible Thinking put into practice within the classroom students can work on them In this section I will be dealing with a selected individually. as well as our ability to listen and stimuli (paintings. images. and through writing learning journals. Students monitor structures like a short sequence of steps or a set their progress better. and build on ideas. Description of the routines draws stimuli − and made relevant to specific content. we worked on Listening is understood as active sharing. 38 |  Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set . –– keeping blogs Evaluation was continuous through the students’ –– use of sticky notes where students’ responses notes and learning journals. flexible confidence and responsibility.. are recorded Project time was coursebook-free. Their commitment ■■ Questioning levels grow and their note-taking skills too. construction relationship between teachers and learners. Active Thinking routines are at the heart of the visible involvement fosters their motivation. and This is a view of thinking as a social endeavour. They were 6th grade state primary school students. war/peace. ibid. They are easy to learn and teach. their level of English ranging from pre-intermediate to upper- intermediate. make dynamics. When these number of thinking routines and how I applied them routines are used systematically − in this case in in the classroom. bullying. interpretations. Ideas. During a project that explored how artful/visual stimuli and the visible thinking approach can be ■■ Listening integrated in the English classroom. Some of the themes we dealt with were: those around us and our interaction with them. activities that focused on vocabulary and grammar were also developed. listening and documenting. Students’ thinking was revealed group and the individual that allows for a better and promoted through sticky notes. school. How do we make thinking visible? Journal writing is a powerful tool. short videos and animation respond to one another’s ideas. Asperger’s and autism. This is where thinking routines come into play. a class at the same time encouraging community building. on Making Thinking Visible (Ritchhart et al. We learn from films). apart from Documentation of thinking may include: the thinking routines. since the one –– sheets of construction papers on the walls available had little to offer in terms of triggering –– taking notes students’ interest and providing content opportunities for thinking beyond the surface to –– writing learning journals. ■■ Documenting I should add that for every theme.) and they are instrumental in stimulating student the Visible Thinking website. there is a deepening of of questions − questions which promote curiosity self-understanding and awareness of group and discovery. occur. in pairs or in groups. blog. suggestions and examples combination with the use of artful/visual learning will be discussed. Each theme lasted about eight 40-minute It involves a constant interplay between the teaching sessions. They are short. This was done bearing in mind that a) involves both the extent to which we sincerely thinking cannot be nurtured without content and listen to and value individual students’ thoughts b) I wanted to include the wide use of artful/visual and ideas. curiosity and imagination. It five themes. ask students to observe. When students enter the process of reconstructing classroom Visibility of students’ thinking rests upon three experience in writing it helps them become more elements: questioning. taking notes in class. No tests were given.

Some dark and gloomy shadows boy in the middle of the picture. physical wellbeing.’ perspective. in pairs or in understand something. Note: events having to do with issues of social justice and fairness (racism. at students to step inside and imagine they were the the edge of a cliff.’ Aim ■■ ‘In my opinion. Likewise. a video. Here are some of the the students’ ideas: students’ ideas: ■■ ‘I perceive that they are playing a game – I believe ■■ ‘An older girl is threatening a younger one they might make fun of me – I care about my because some other people told her to do it. and deepen their understanding of the other’s ■■ ‘It’s not fair because everyone makes mistakes. six against one. It was the bump bouncing illustrator and filmmaker Matt Mahurin.’ ■■ ‘I perceive I have no future – I believe my end has come – I care about escaping.’ Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set  | 39 . ■■ ‘It’s not fair even if he had done something because they are six and he is one. they see. boy by feet and hands.’ This routine asks students to step inside a character. they might hurt me – I care about my family. It encourages them to understand Procedure alternatives. Ask students to reflect on the questions: Note: perceive here can be replaced by see. Ask students to step inside. the visible –– What makes you say that? thinking approach invites teachers to adapt the ■■ The question ‘What makes you say that?’ should wording of routines as they see fit.’ Step inside: perceive-believe- care about ■■ ‘I perceive I am frightened – I believe I am in danger – I care about myself. The source material used Elder. the children are cruel. Aim slavery) can evoke an emotional response and lead ■■ Students have to share their ideas about what to more creative understanding. bullying. Classroom experience I used this routine when introducing the theme of Classroom experience bullying. The source material used was a detail from One of the occasions I used this routine was again the painting Children’s Games by Pieter Bruegel the on the theme of bullying. –– What do you perceive? –– What might you believe? Procedure –– What might you care about? ■■ Introduce the source material. This routine asks students to observe. read or hear. They have to back them with evidence. readings that material. to generate. Some shadows are behind the girls. a historical event.’ Materials What makes you say that? An event portrayed in a work of art. Students can work individually. The detail showed six boys holding another was the painting ‘Bullying’ by the American painter. a photograph. It depends on how many ideas you want challenge or test. I asked aggressive stance leaning over a younger one. place themselves within the situation Materials and imagine they are a person from the source Works of art. and interpret. in pairs or in groups depending on how many ideas you want to generate. photographs. Generally. Below are the descriptions of the thinking routines ■■ ‘I perceive I shouldn’t play with them – I believe that were used in the project. From this perspective ask them: invite making predictions. believe can be replaced by know or think. –– What’s going on? observe or understand. The painting game which involved bouncing someone’s buttocks shows an older girl with clenched fists and an on a wooden plank as a form of punishment. convey a genuine interest in how the students ■■ Students can work individually. ■■ Introduce the source material.’ I say that because the little girl is at the edge of a cliff. It should not sound like a groups. describe a story the class has read. poetry. They’re ■■ It helps stimulate empathy. Here are some of are at the back of the painting.

we found new incredible words and phrases. She is very threatening because she has tight fists.’ ■■ ‘The title of the painting is Bullying and it is symbolic.’ repeated steps one and two. Almost anything that can encourage observation. phrases students can come up with. The older girl is laughing at the little girl and says words that hurt it. observe ■■ ‘I saw in Guernica animals. ■■ ‘The older girl is threatening the younger girl. to use a powerful stimulus. I think that visible through the use of a concept map. especially visual art. I am sure the little girl is in danger. and wondering steps that follow. It emphasises how important to make a list of ten more words or phrases.’ Procedure ■■ ‘It is a black world with a lot of sadness and ■■ Introduce the source material. They’re witnesses. because map. ■■ The ‘Looking Ten Times Two’ routine is useful in generating descriptive language before a writing Aim activity. The younger is at the edge of a cliff. ■■ ‘In the painting I can see two girls and six shadows. and think about words or phrases to describe I think this amazing painting depicts a frightening what they see. Be flexible with the number of words and ■■ It stimulates students’ interest and curiosity. Sometimes witnesses don’t know what to do. a circle someone told the older girl to do it. It also aims at developing thinking dispositions that support thoughtful learning. Is that real life? Or just –– look at the image quietly for thirty seconds an imaginary room?’ –– make a list of ten words or phrases about any aspect of what they see. Lost dreams and lost lives travel fast obvious descriptions. I think it is an argument or something like that. If I were the little girl I would be very afraid and frightened. It is critical. Share them with the See think wonder rest of the class This routine asks students to observe carefully. Students’ responses were made young girl is at the edge of a cliff. a war. It encourages them to go beyond event. and wondering. 40 |  Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set .’ Looking ten times two This is a routine from ‘Artful Thinking’ (another Project Zero programme). Aim Here are some of the students’ ideas: ■■ This routine asks students to slow down. A painting. it is to observe closely as the basis for the thinking Share them.’ I used this routine when introducing students to the ■■ ‘I can see an older girl who is threatening a theme of war/peace. Look again and try think and ask questions. an older and a younger. object. The source material used was younger girl and I understand it because the Picasso’s Guernica.’ ■■ ‘…then of course we shared our ideas with each Materials other. interpretation. It is a war that never stops and to take the following steps: keeps you thinking. in the painting. We did that for two times and every time Any kind of artwork. too. Ask students screaming. however. depending on their language level. video or excerpt of text. Classroom experience I say that because the older girl has tight fists. There are some shadows. We can see two girls. then –– repeat steps one and two. The routine works best as a Materials whole-class brainstorming activity. people and destruction. photo. Red colour is used for the phase when we I can see some shadows behind them. We call that a thinking routine.

What’s the true meaning of Guernica?’ Here are some of the students’ ideas: ■■ ‘I think that the violence or sadness are strong. Someone holding a broken Classroom experience knife or a broken sword – I think there are animals This routine was the last activity in the theme of war/ and people that escaped from a fight – I wonder peace.’ ■■ ‘Symbol: we chose the cross on a tomb because many people die in a war. One of the occasions I used the ‘see. but a fantastic Ideas can rush in and members of the group can painting. Out of the children’s wonderings I developed the next activity. Ask students to important than war. extraordinary – I wonder what was –– Choose a symbol. which was a text about the historical facts behind Guernica. Students can work individually. Explain why you chose it.e. i. so I wanted to encourage more careful Materials observations and deepen their understanding. Because Guernica I believe reflect on the questions: was painted about the wrongs of the people and one of these is war. Procedure ■■ Ask students to take the following steps: Here are some of the students’ ideas: –– Choose a colour that you feel represents ■■ ‘I see dead people. frightened faces. Use the student-made what does the painting symbolise?’ output as a teaching input. They can first take notes of their ideas This routine helps students capture the essence of before sharing them. Guernica. The spirit symbolises the lost souls like in Picasso’s painting.’ –– What can you see? ■■ ‘…what made Picasso draw like that. a poem. complex and the students I worked with were quite young. symbol or image. The painting is metaphoric thinking. ask the follow-up question (i. Have groups present their work and co-ordinate a plenary discussion. symbolises death and red symbolises blood. happening when Picasso was painting Guernica?’ –– Choose an image. sad faces. again with Aim Picasso’s Guernica. and many people died. in pairs or in Colour symbol image groups. It was the follow-up to the ■■ They make connections and develop their ‘looking ten times two’ routine. others the more creative drawing part. and two ghosts are looking at them. Explain why you chose it.’ the violence and sadness become weak. ■■ ‘I see a war of shapes. It’s because –– What do you think about it? the Nazis bombed the ancient capital of the –– What does it make you wonder? Basque Country. Many people have cut their hands maybe in a fight. a song.’ Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set  | 41 . ■■ ‘Colour: we chose red and black because black but when people fight for their freedom or peace. ■■ ‘I see many people and animals. Students organised themselves in groups and what Picasso wanted to show with this painting? chose what they wished to represent – war or peace. ■■ ‘I see a fight where many people lost their lives Some groups may find it easier to start with the and then they became ghosts and monsters – I other parts of the routine first. ideas they explore in the selected source materials. lots of animals the ideas we have discussed.’ ■■ ‘Image: we chose the bare tree because it symbolises sadness and no life. and a dying horse – ■■ The routine works well as a small group activity. A story. wonder’ routine was in the theme of war/peace. Some may offer the real life?’ verbal part. a huge dinosaur who eats a man. a short video. think people are drowning in chaos – I wonder The order is not binding. painting.’ you think about it?’) to prompt the next response. ■■ If students begin by providing a response only That event shocked Picasso so much so he painted to ‘I see’. ‘What do Guernica. Procedure ■■ ‘Out of this we must say that peace is more ■■ Introduce the source material.e. Explain why fighting with humans – I think it is a fantastic you chose it. I think it is a strange painting. too – I wonder is this painting from contribute in diverse ways. think. They express themselves creatively in both verbal Classroom experience and non-verbal ways.

to think about thinking itself. The artful stimuli ■■ Tell them that this has to be done in silence. Now. faith. This was the routine I used when we finished the theme of Asperger’s and autism.’ ■■ ‘I used to think that autism is always a bad thing.’ in groups and focus on the accuracy of the ■■ ‘I used to think. that had been used during the theme included They can stand up.’ Aim ■■ This routine helps students reflect on how their thinking and ideas might have changed over Chalk talk time as they have developed their understanding This routine asks students to think and respond of an issue. ideas and in this routine. Questions generally trigger more thoughts –– ‘Now I think. jobs. completing a unit of study. It is actually Procedure a silent conversation on paper. a phrase. love.. I used to think.. Now. ■■ It helps them read others’ points of view and watching a short film. with autism aren’t so clever. ■■ Ask students what they used to think about the topic when you started and what they think about Materials it now by using: A single word. but they a painting by an artist with Asperger’s.’ ■■ ‘I used to think nothing about Asperger’s and autism because I didn’t know anything. I think we learned to respect difference. I think that they are very normal people and that I want to have an autistic friend. ideas or questions. explored. and develop their metacognitive skills.. students have the chance prompt to reflect upon. Students work individually ■■ Ask them to write their thoughts..’ of study.. and relevant short videos. Now. I think that Asperger’s or autistic people can be smarter than the non-autistic people. give students a relevant a period of instruction. animation film. Now I think.’ and comments. silently a) to a prompt and b) to the thoughts of others. I also think now that they are normal. be exceptionally clever and that autism can’t stop life for anyone. comment on them or ask questions. and they can do what we do. a question relevant to a topic –– ‘I used to think. and move freely. It helps them build understanding collaboratively. Classroom experience ■■ Invite them to comment on their classmates’ thoughts.. and one at the Here are some of the students’ ideas: end after more aspects of the issue have been ■■ ‘I used to think people with autism weren’t normal. what is autism? I believed people sentences they have written. I think they can 42 |  Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set .’ ■■ ‘I didn’t use to think anything about autism.. ■■ Chalk talk works best when done in two rounds. they have families. just differently. I think people with autism are normal people. That they are not (so) normal people.. One at the beginning of a topic. They can go to school. Now.. Now. In the end students can work in our world. ■■ While working on the routine the flow of ideas is we can make people with autism feel better more important. I think that with our support. and what they think about it after ■■ When starting a topic. ■■ By reflecting on what they used to think about a Procedure topic before. a short cannot talk.. Materials Aim After reading or discussing new information. questions about that theme on a big piece of paper.

Artful Thinking Website. ASCD: 41–52. observed and described associated with values. The approach can have rewarding effects. John Hopkins University. They need time. transferability in her English classroom. References Art in the English Class Project Website. Through an ongoing. respect and trust. B (eds) Discovering and Exploring Habits of Mind. Classroom experience that the thinking routines are not used just once or occasionally and that they are attached to The primary school students I worked with liked the meaningful content. She holds a BA in English Literature context of the American education system. Available online at: http://education.visiblethinkingpz. Available This gives an idea of what finished chalk talk papers online at: files/VisibleThinking1. improve their self-esteem and motivation. look like: Last accessed 30/11/2014. She shares her lesson proposals in her personal blog Art Least. and a sense of community. Perkins. Available online at: www. At the end of the theme we had the second round of chalk talk. Visible Thinking Website. Available online at: www. Then. I tried chalk talk when we worked on the theme and have a more memorable learning experience in of school. Ritchhart. S (2000) ‘Why teach habits of mind?’. fact that they could stand up and move freely around and systematic use to bear fruit. and Independence for All Learners. project was to teach English in a way that would They found the silent element of the routine game- encourage my students to unleash their creative like and responded warmly to it. in Costa. K (2011) Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement.html Last accessed 30/11/2014. I wrote on the board: ‘What ideas. My aim during the the classroom in a circular way. and her Conclusion classroom practice in her class blog Art in the English Visible Thinking has been developed within the Class Project. Understanding.jhu. She likes to encourage students’ creative thinking through the integrated use of artful stimuli and thinking routines in classroom projects that deal with topics on human values and social justice.pzartfulthinking. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. A mixture with a minor in Greek Studies from the University of professional curiosity and interest in the potentials of Athens and a joint MA in Comparative Education it could have in ELT has led the author of this chapter and Human Rights from the Institute of Education to start exploring it and experimenting with its (University of London) and the University of exploratory feelings or wonderings do you have about school?’ effort visible thinking has been of considerable help to that end. We first looked at some paintings with their English class. provided Making thinking visible in the English classroom: nurturing a creative mind-set  | 43 . A and Kallick. edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/thinking- skills/visible/ Last accessed 30/11/2014. Tishman. Chrysa Papalazarou teaches English in a state primary school in Greece.php Last accessed 30/11/2014. Church. M and Morrison. D (2003) Making Thinking Visible. thinking. them. John Hopkins School of Education. I also wanted the approach to be diverse school settings.blogspot. reading and writing. After the first round of chalk talk we elaborated more on the theme of school. careful choice.

This ‘neural coupling’ (Stephens et al. Your personal presence as the live storyteller is worth Personal storytelling any amount of new technology. so that our students imaging study reported in Psychological Science get a clear sense of themselves as creators of their reveals that the regions of the brain that process own stories and. Face-to-face storytelling is a co-creative act in that the listener’s Storytelling is a deeply creative part of being human. and the stories we tell. So when language learners say that they students creative peer listening tasks which involve would like to ‘speak English better’. discerning often imagining is being able to take part in social between truth and lies. We filter the data we are constantly exposed to and make stories Creative tasks to tell our lives. This chapter shows that the 2010) means that the listener tells and anticipates language classroom is a perfect environment for the story along with the storyteller and influences teachers and students to tell stories about our own the course of the story. 44 |  Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories . we can give tongue. Our imagination is stimulated lives and experiences. we aspire to be fluent listen that they can build up their own speaking skills. students share their personal stories Some teachers have reservations about doing more ■■ which promote speaking and listening skills ‘teacher talk’ in class. But it is only when students do genuinely resolving. offer above pre-recorded listening materials. 5 Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories David Heathfield Introduction Storytelling is not a one-way process. As narrative beings. but it is important to value the personal and interactive live storytelling you can ■■ which require no written prompts. they learn to the sights. life are activated when we are engrossed in a This chapter offers nine activities: compelling narrative. what they are predicting. but to build on each other’s responses engaging way. The practical and enjoyable when listening to someone’s story: experimental activities are designed to build confidence and psychologist Stephen Pinker writes ‘A recent brain- fluency in personal storytelling. most listening closely to each other in the language of them featuring some kind of problem that needs classroom. brain activity mirrors the brain activity of the We learn about ourselves from the stories we are told storyteller. Humans are narrative beings. You provide students and teacher an ideal model for your students because they ■■ which provide clear frameworks within which can aspire to speak English as well as you one day. at the same time. remembering. and confident when telling our stories in our mother To develop as personal storytellers.’ ■■ for large and small classes Students bring their lifetime of stories with them ■■ for pre-intermediate to advanced level and into the classroom and these stories are our richest mixed-ability classes resource. ‘speaking English better’ often means being encourage students not only to pay close attention able to share personal stories in a fluent and to each other.. the teacher. We simply need to provide activities which ■■ for students aged ten to 100 give students opportunities to develop as co-creative storytellers and story-listeners in English. A huge proportion of our daily A challenge for many teachers is to get their students conversation is made up of personal stories. sounds. acting out scenes and making conversation more fluently and confidently. In other connections with their own experiences. The ideal ■■ which involve face-to-face communication source of listening material to start off a storytelling ■■ where the creative content comes from the activity is of course you. tastes and movement of real communicate more creatively in English. These tasks words. finding out.

The activities offered here involve students conversing in pairs or small groups. When evaluating their own English keep the storytelling simple and articulate words learning. to instantly translate key vocabulary or even to tell the Nothing comes more naturally to students than whole story in the students’ mother tongue before listening to their English teacher or to each other telling it in English. focus on fluency and clarity and not to be overly students are responding to a live and present concerned with accuracy. speaking they have ever done in English. Students learn a great deal about pronunciation when listening This extended interpersonal storytelling is hugely attentively to and looking at the face of their satisfying and boosts their confidence as English storytelling teacher. in English before they tell the story again. so it is not possible for the Personal and creative communication teacher to hear everyone. in class develops their confidence. language development. This subtle tuning in ■■ allow for and acknowledge different and to what your students need comes naturally with unexpected responses experience. tempo. Encourage students to When storytelling with you and with each other. fluency. you are providing a model ■■ enjoy and recognise different ways of doing a task for your students to aim for. Becoming English language storytellers leads to improved When students themselves start to tell their stories. As Shakespeare himself put it: telling a personal story. With monolingual classes of ■■ make sure all the group members have students starting out with English. and develop as a community of learners. Equally important is the way you use students or from a dictionary) how to say it your voice: the changes in rhythm. The same story can be adapted and ■■ show genuine interest in one another’s told with students at very different stages of their contributions English learning. they do not need to ■■ encourage a free flow of ideas and value understand every word in order to understand the every contribution story. If they do not know how to say a particular expressions. We can You can finely adjust the vocabulary you use encourage students to do the following – as according to your students’ ability. use of vocabulary and their ability to communicate creatively. in the case of the activities presented in this chapter. from other useful model. facial other. but avoid slowing down too much or you these kinds of personal storytelling activities might lose the energy and impact of the story. students closely listen to and understand each it is important to be aware of your posture.’ another story on a connected theme. pitch and emotion all convey meaning. pronunciation. volume. students comment that regularly doing clearly. Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories  | 45 . the best idea is to speakers. But remember that. memory. fluency and it is very often the longest piece of uninterrupted confidence in public speaking. they can say it in their interpersonal communication so that you make your mother tongue the first time they tell the story. As teacher. it may be entirely an equal share of time and attention. Generally. appropriate to do mixed-language storytelling. story engaging for your students and provide a They can then find out (from you. and then to reciprocate with ‘An honest tale speeds best being plainly told. It is important suggested by Alida Gersie in Earthtales (1992): to challenge your students. gestures and the other subtleties of word or phrase in English. The main thing is that person and using non-verbal language.

or forgetting someone’s name. the end. language and voice. find out Truth or lie similarities and differences the other students The next three activities involve students guessing noticed in terms of emotions. they have received to the whole class and whether ■■ As soon as you finish. ■■ In pairs. It is best same energy. facial expressions. how much of their partners’ stories is true. storytelling workshop led by Dr Alida Gersie. ending with The first two activities focus on attentive listening ‘What should I do?’ and then summarises the story and remembering – fundamental in a class where back to A to check they have understood and creative storytelling is valued. same pace. When half the students have indicated that they want ■■ Students in groups of three take it in turns to tell advice. reveal the lie. Listening and remembering ■■ Put each A student with a B partner. know if they’re right or wrong. e. ■■ Every B student returns to their initial A partner ■■ Explain that you are going to tell this student a and gives them the advice. same voice. same used where an atmosphere of mutual respect and facial expressions. ■■ Once the student has retold the story. their recent story. student to stand face-to-face with you. a sick animal. I tell your story ■■ Every B student finds a new A partner and tells them the problem story they learned from their Procedure former A partner. you last met the students and do your best to hide As a whole class students report their partners’ the lie among the true details. true personal story but that one detail will be a lie. voice and words and more effective technique for encouraging students then ask them light-heartedly to award the student to listen to each other than challenging them to work a percentage grade according to how similar their out whether their classmates are telling the truth storytelling was. This attentive listening supports the speakers and gives them more confidence in Problem stories their ability to communicate creatively. using the first person ‘I’: same emotions. There’s no gestures. to and then repeats B’s story and is then given As well as this. 76 per cent. challenge the student to tell they will follow it. something they guesses have been made. feel happy to talk about in class and which they ■■ Find out students’ guesses without letting them would like advice about. pace. short one-minute personal story about something ■■ Invite the A students to comment on the advice that happened since you last met. same gestures. students do the same. tell them that they are all A. the listening students focus not only feedback and a grade by C.g. while the other two listen and afterwards guess the lie. remembered correctly. e. and on the content but also on their partner’s body finally C listens to A. trust is already established among members of the ■■ The other students will listen and notice similarities group and can be a genuinely effective way of and differences but must remain silent until sharing advice with peers. today I might tell them the story about my car needing repairs three times in the Procedure last three weeks and each repair being more ■■ Let students know that you are going to tell a short serious than the one before. ■■ After listening to you. The new A partner responds ■■ Ask who has a good memory and invite this to the story with a piece of advice. ■■ Tell students the story behind a problem that is on your mind and finish by asking ‘What should I do?’ What’s the lie? For example. it back to you in exactly the same way as if they This is adapted from an activity I did in a personal were you. energy. 46 |  Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories . students have one minute to listen to and ■■ Tell the story of something that happened since remember the advice their partner would give. B listens to C. same words. students in pairs guess ■■ Ask students to think of a current problem they the lie. One reason for this is that it’s just as much ■■ In groups of three. or not.g. have lost. A listens fun to guess lies as it is to get away with telling them. When all the equipment that’s not working. B listens to A tell the story causing their problem. In fact most students find it surprisingly easy to invent a Procedure believable lie. advice to you.

my pet. using the prompt questions in the to anyone else. and form new pairs and tell their stories again. answers to these questions: Ask them to hide away their piece of paper. one with a cross from the box and show them both the storytelling student reveals their paper which. will show a cross. Tell –– What did you lose? students that their stories should include answers –– When did this happen? to the following prompt questions and read them out slowly. Fold the two pieces again and and then reveal your cross too. In advance of the class. bring all the students together and let ■■ In front of the students unfold the one piece of them discuss and guess whose stories were real. or my heart to somebody. thinking skills. paper with a tick and take out and unfold another After they give their reasons for believing a story. but they must make tell your partner a true story about something other students believe them so the story should you once lost. three times. my glasses. you need to prepare enough small pieces of paper Retelling the same story a few times helps them marked only with a cross so that there is one for to improve their made-up story and develop their each student and one for you. ■■ Find out which students proved to be the best –– Why? liars and who told the most interesting stories. some money. Invite each student to my way. elicit and write up some suitable your story is made up yet. look at it secretly and tell a personal You can justify this by pointing out that by having story about a lie someone once told you. stage below to guide you. They become increasingly astute –– What were the consequences? at disguising their own lies while picking out each other’s. they had to use creative ■■ Your story must be completely made up. common collocations to complete a phrase ■■ Tell students that they are going to tell their own starting with ‘I lost…’ . three different students. but you are the only one on your students so that they all spontaneously who knows this). from the box. they split create a believable story. For example if you choose the theme believe or disbelieve your story. allowing time for students to imagine: –– Where were you? –– When and where did it happen? –– Who were you with? –– Who lied to you? –– What was happening at the time? Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories  | 47 . Before you start. my pen. As each pair finishes. for example. think about your be realistic (of course they will all have crosses). Fold just one piece of paper ■■ Once every student has told their story at least marked with a tick. ■■ Students stand in pairs ready to tell their stories. how they feel about the fact that you didn’t tell Take another one (which of course has a cross) them the whole truth about the ticks and crosses. of course. my phone. let them all show their crosses ‘made-up story’. Tell the take out and unfold a piece of paper from the students a short true anecdote about something box. Do not reveal that of ‘losing things’. Then they say in open class why they anecdote. Say: ‘In a moment you’re going to must be completely made up. In your story include answers to the prompt questions below. put them in a box. to tell a believable lie. Students can say secretly discard the piece of paper with a tick. to the students. Whose loss? ■■ Give students a minute to quiz you about the story Procedure and then guess in pairs if it is a real lie someone ■■ Choose a theme and prepare to tell a short true told you. –– What was the lie? This activity has become a favourite among –– How did you feel? students I teach and they enjoy repeating it at –– Did you believe the lie? regular intervals. making sure nobody shows their paper you once lost. story about a lie someone told them to at least a book. Remind them that after each story the listener Tell a lie should quiz the storytelling student who should answer but should not reveal whether their story Procedure is about a real lie or a made-up lie (of course they ■■ In this activity you are going to play a gentle trick will all be made up. ■■ Tell them that each piece of paper has either a ■■ When students finally realise that none of the tick signifying ‘real story’ or a cross signifying stories are real. ■■ Remind them that if they have a tick they must ■■ Ask the students to sit with a partner they don’t tell a real story and if they have a cross the story know very well. Fold them up and storytelling skills.

Give students the opportunity to practise questions about your story for one minute. whose story it is that you’ve just heard. story with an unpredictable ending on the ■■ When the pairs have finished. say: ‘In a moment same theme. telling the same story at least three times and to Mentally note the questions but don’t answer embellish it a little more each time. Make equal-sized Both of you are going to tell the same story to groups of between three and five students with other students as if it happened to you. immediately tell your two-minute the most successful liars were. After finishing. ask the pairs to form new ■■ Before they listen. establishing clearly who was involved and where –– How did you feel? and when it happened and then stop and say. followed immediately by A’s story. tell ■■ Then tell them to listen to their partner’s story them the actual ending. and enables students to connect closely with their For example. This will focus their attention. builds anticipation and focuses attention when title and B and C fire questions for one minute. They are going to guess ■■ Remind the storytellers to stop and say.’ Personal story questions ■■ When they are ready. Guess what happened in the end Act it out Procedure Physically acting out events in a story together ■■ Choose a topic and prepare to tell a two-minute promotes expressive storytelling and use of gesture true personal story with an unpredictable ending. when they’ve thought of one. how did you find it? If you didn’t. their true endings. happens in their partner’s story before they listen ■■ Students each decide their own topic-related story develops students’ creative thinking and prediction title and form groups of three. the storytelling students tell to make us believe it could have happened to you. Set a time limit of five ■■ Ask the students to think of a short personal minutes for both partners to tell their stories. They should raise a hand only you’re going to choose one of those two stories. invite them yet. story incorporating answers to as many of your students’ questions as you can.’ my story could be ‘The day our house flooded’. –– What did you do? ‘Guess what happened in the end!’ –– Did you find it again? ■■ Put the students in pairs and ask them to guess –– If you did. if the topic is travel. ask each pair to sit facing Procedure another pair. A announces their skills. Finding out point out that you didn’t answer the questions Knowing that it is up to them to find out what as a list but integrated the answers into the story. story of when a friend and I were involved in a car crash while hitch-hiking from Italy to France. For example. to remember the details. OK. I might tell the partners’ experiences. you’ll probably need to change a few things endings. Finally. to make them believe you. 48 |  Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories . if the topic is the weather. two different endings to your story. ■■ As each group finishes. you’ve got three minutes to decide which story to tell and to learn it from your partner. they then listen. One of you will be telling your ‘Guess what happened in the end!’ and remind own true story. so they’ll need to listen closely. the whole class to say how they managed to identify the students who were lying and who ■■ After a minute. The same process is repeated for B and C. If you’re telling your partner’s the others to guess and tell at least two different story. –– How did you lose it? ■■ Let students know that they are going to finish the –– When did you realise you had lost it? story. Then invite students this experience?’ with very different endings to tell theirs. Say: ‘Listen to the same story told ■■ Choose a topic and announce the title of a two- by two different people and then you can ask minute personal story you are happy to tell within them both a few questions before you guess that topic. whose story it is. Finally. Tell the story. You want one storytelling student in each group. when did you stop looking? ■■ Invite one willing student to tell their ending to –– How do you feel now when you remember your story to the whole class. ask students to fire you with groups. Next.

An remember well. by explaining see … What sounds do you hear? … What do you something. a hundred drummers. the end … One final question − how do you feel when you remember this celebration? . in turn. slowly the role of the person who helped you and act out pausing between questions: ‘Breathe in … and out the story physically and verbally in front of the … As you breathe. you’re back in the classroom … stand and act out the scene in English. ‘It’s so hot in this warehouse. difficult situation. The their hips so quickly to the rhythm? Look how hunter was going to shoot the pigeon. The pigeon engage with the students as if they’re there at found a dry leaf and dropped it into the water. ask them to pair with there any kind of problem? … Now it’s coming to ones who haven’t and to tell them the story. a small family celebration. It could be something really big or what was said. The ant was drowning in the water Use mime to bring the experience to life and and the pigeon felt sorry for the ant. The pigeon heard and flew away. isn’t it? Look over there! Can you see the way that couple are moving Some time later the ant saw a hunter. the movement. in the fourth stage to guide you. There in the water the pigeon among incredibly vibrant dancers and drummers. Who are you with? . saw an ant. The hunter cried out deafening samba rhythm − there must be at least in pain... Invite the other students to watch and listen going to remember the celebration and I’m going closely. Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories  | 49 . What kind of place are you in? It should be a difficult situation when they helped … What time of day is it? . ‘In a minute you’re going to tell the story some background information about the situation. For example. by giving directions. celebration. to ask and answer questions.. by carrying something. the situation and to use present tenses.. a party or another kind of special who helped you and describe what happened and occasion. invite their classmates to their in order to work out which student’s story it is... of a celebration – it could be a ceremony. e. in the class. Start the story by giving them ■■ Say. safe. feel your body relax … You’re class. by lending the colours. the light and shade. the celebration with you. Look. remembered the pigeon’s kindness and the ant Have you ever seen anything like it? Listen to that bit the hunter on the foot.. students stand scene to the rest. gesture and mime and the act of kindness. The ant their costumes are shimmering silver and gold. The others watch and listen and. Is ready with a story to tell. remind them the details of the relationship. you say: The ant climbed onto the leaf and was safe.g. When half the class are What’s the best thing about the celebration? .’ ■■ Ask for pairs who are willing to show their ■■ In groups of three to four. in your head so you don’t need to speak yet … ■■ Ask students to think of a personal story Where are you at the start of the celebration? … which ‘The pigeon and the ant’ reminds them of. by giving something. Before they begin. all the things you something. Read. you can open your eyes. A pigeon was thirsty and flew down to a pool when I tried to do the samba in the summer heat of water to drink. Celebration An act of kindness Procedure Procedure ■■ Tell students the story of a celebration you ■■ Learn and tell this short tale to your students. It is not important if this conversation is a to ask you some questions … Please answer them little different from the original interaction. Now listen ■■ After a couple of minutes invite all the pairs to to your breathing. by looking after smell and what do you taste? … How do you feel? … someone or something.. for example I might tell the story of the night I went to a carnival The pigeon and the ant rehearsal with Brazilian friends in São Paulo. Use the prompt questions below Iraqi student called Jalil Kwad told me this story. what do you see someone out or were helped out by someone not around you? … Look at the people. Let’s get out there and join in the dance procession − are you ready?’ ■■ Tell students a personal story that ‘The pigeon and the ant’ reminds you of − an occasion when ■■ Encourage students to ask you questions along someone’s act of kindness helped you out of a the way.’ ■■ Ask a confident student to stand with you and play ■■ Ask students to close their eyes. be clear about your relationship with the person a festival.

A (1992) Earthtales: Storytelling in Times of Change. Silbert. The learning. feelings. London: Penguin. deepening their appreciation of each kinds of educational institutions. D (2005) Spontaneous Speaking. G. He tells stories with adults. Available online at: www.pnas. Each of these activities can be extended very Stephens. their learning environment evolves into a self- David’s website: https://sites. With David Heathfield combines teaching English in your gentle nurturing. 50 |  Personal and creative storytelling: telling our stories . forests. D (2014) Storytelling With Our Students. One teenagers and children in an array of settings: student responds to a classmate’s story by telling festivals. and he learns stories by listening increasingly involved in each other’s life stories and to people from all around the world. into your UCscW6lz3okT_y_69SsY0LGw References The reciprocal nature of storytelling Speaking (DELTA Publishing) offer teachers practical means that students begin to share their stories ways of putting creativity at the heart of language spontaneously with minimal teaching input. Peaslake: Delta sustaining community. U (2010) ‘Speaker- effectively with a writing stage or can easily be listener neural coupling underlies successful adapted for use as an interpersonal creative communication’. such as the ones outlined in this chapter. Heathfield. care homes and all another. Pinker. S (1999) How the Mind Works. His books other’s thoughts. Heathfield. museums. Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (32). Peaslake: Delta Publishing. students’ stories grow and Exeter with being an international storyteller flourish and bring colour to the learning in your and teacher trainer. classroom in ways that cannot be foreseen.full?sid=c8205d6a-08c1- 463f-9e38-b496c4da By bringing creative personal storytelling activities. Green Print London (no longer in print). you are sowing seeds on fertile Conclusion content/107/32/ experiences and Storytelling With Our Students and Spontaneous differences. His work revolves around celebrating content is rich and meaningful so students become cultural diversity. davidheathfield2/home You can find examples of most of the story activities included in this chapter on David’s YouTube Channel at: www. L and Hasson. Proceedings of the National writing activity.

The activities provided in this chapter will demonstrate these frameworks: ‘pattern poems’. Maley. Murugiah (2013). It will increase their self-esteem language is in a sense an “act of creation”. (Hadfield and Hadfield. grammar practice and creativity do not seem attempting to express uniquely personal meanings compatible. exploited to provide opportunities for grammar practice in creative activities by the provision of tightly controlled frameworks within which to write. The first is that finds that through creativity learners ‘become they are motivational. Similarly Hadfield and Hadfield find that creative writing activities ‘often Using creative techniques for grammar practice demonstrate to students how powerful they can be will thus motivate students. creativity. so they are no longer at least be given some space in teaching materials. themselves’ in the foreign language. 1990. thrives within techniques of mental linkage and imaging improve constraints: the adherence to rules. or following retrieval of language items. 2007). Additionally. even at a fairly elementary be a routine and repetitious activity into something level. students begin to make a personal use and language learning are inherently creative investment in the language and culture. and Hadfield ‘Creativity stimulates and motivates. This paradox can be use it later’ (2009: 14). through the identity-building function of L2 creativity. 2000). Norton. And it can increase retention of the grammar process. creativity plays an important part in L2 identity building (Hadfield and Hadfield. by making what could in the foreign language. states that ‘as learners manipulate creativity in the classroom. the many poems. Tan Bee Tin (2007) creative activities with students. following engage with the language at a deeper level of established connections and repetition – all ideas processing than with expository text. 1990: viii) language. but at first sight. 6 Teaching grammar creatively Jill and Charlie Hadfield Introduction Finally. In a way processes. language also acts as a memory aid (Nematis. Teaching grammar creatively  | 51 . I would argue that these features should they begin to “own” part of it. which is associated with the freedom of breaking rules A third reason is that such deeper processing of and making new connections. when manipulating and thinking about a word.’ which seem antithetical to creativity. Finally. 2003: 187). engage more deeply with the language and exceed their current language abilities. Combining grammar and creativity: Tan Bee Tin (2007) finds that creative activities enable learners to ‘push past their current language constraints and freedom abilities’. Schmitt finds that the creative However. as in a limerick or a sonnet.’ “foreigners” and “outsiders”’. This is a great encouragement to them for items by leading to deeper processing of the further learning’. Language language. Every new discovery they make in the foreign novel and exciting. and ‘listing’ activities. Schmitt. stories and songs gain their effect more likely it is that they will be able to recall and through use of repetition. they necessarily rules. Four main reasons have been advanced for using 2012. but by proving to them that they can use the new when they produce words on paper which are grammar patterns in an original and entertaining original and creative. paradoxically. citing Craik and Lockhart There may be compelling reasons for using (1972) in turn. Practising grammar involves following (as they do in creative writing). and Nematis explains of a pattern. (Tomlinson. 2009. leading to positive affect. both of that ‘the more cognitive energy a person exerts which have tightly prescribed forms. Tin. they see written proof of the way. it can give them a sense Other writers find creative activities encourage of ownership of the new language. Students and Hadfield (1990) explain that: given the opportunity to exercise their own ‘By thinking up new ideas of their own in the foreign creativity tend to respond positively. writing to prescribed patterns. the language in interesting and demanding ways. 1995. learners to take risks.

finding that the basis of all Providing constraints will also help students with the creativity is ‘bisociative thinking… the creative ‘what’ and ‘how’ of creative expression. Koestler took up this theme in The Act of Creation (1964). an example of ideas or style of writing. where students are visualisations. from which a selection can absence of audience. These can asked to take an unusual viewpoint on the world. Two techniques are used. then become each of a two-stage process: the generation of large other’s audience. so scaffolding has been provided for trigger and providing an audience.. It can seen this process as crucial to creativity.).’. help students by providing something for them to for example writing about a day’s events from the describe.. do not normally come with instructions – and ■■ The simplest is a concrete stimulus: pictures. for example to which are most productive. who can react to what is said or ask for clarification. be retained.’ It is of course difficult to think students can be scaffolded into thinking of and of unconnected ideas that might be creatively expressing creative ideas: providing an imaginative connected. and to read ■■ The third kind of imaginative trigger also derives and match descriptions and pictures. and in more modern and how to say it times. for example providing instructions for The activities in this chapter have three kinds of eating spaghetti or falling in love – activities which ‘imaginative trigger’ designed to engender ideas. the selection of certain of these ideas for further In ‘Chain Writing’. ‘a wonderful harmony arises from connecting the 52 |  Teaching grammar creatively . Guiding questions can be who played with it. students in two ways: ‘Idea Collision’. etc. They not only read each other’s numbers of ideas which are then explored to find work. students act as both blind because it is not known in advance which writer and audience. ‘Making the Familiar Strange’. writing a line of an theory. This ensures from writers’ observations on creativity. for most useful. ■■ The second trigger involves activities which group Providing an audience students in pairs and asking them to brainstorm a One of the difficulties of writing is caused by the large number of ideas. thus mimicking a selection process to determine which will finally spoken interaction. In ‘Overheard in a Café’. The activities leap which connects two previously unconnected in this chapter demonstrate two other ways in which frames of reference. seeing creativity as beginning with chance overheard conversation at a time. story. Campbell help students immensely with the organisation and (1960) for example proposes a three-stage model: expression of their thoughts if they have an the blind generation of large numbers of ideas – audience. Smith et al. the students are simultaneously elaboration. ideas will be selected and finally retained – then ‘Chain Writing’ and ‘Read and. Simonton (2003) elaborates on this example. and finally the retention of those writer and audience. Heraclitus wrote that must perform. but have a task to complete. Several writers on the creative process have Whereas a writer is communicating with a void. Helping students with what to say seemingly unconnected’. objects. where two normally unconnected ideas are provided for the Imaginative trigger student. students work in pairs. texts. provided to help the students exploit the stimulus. A speaker has an interlocutor be made for the creative product (poem. read and guess what is being described. music. suggesting that students have an audience in mind while writing that creativity involves somehow connecting two and are suiting their writing to the task their audience apparently unrelated ideas. then passing it to combinations of ideas which are then subject to their partner who writes the next line. point of view of a toy rather than from the child or by setting a mood. (1995) have a similar theory in their ‘Geneplore model’ which consists In ‘Read and…’ students write first. In these activities.

imaginative triggers and audience. The table below shows how each activity we have described uses constraints. Imaginative Activity Target language Genre Constraint trigger Audience Mystery object Place Place description Pattern poem Picture stimulus Read and guess prepositions My day so far Simple past Narrative Listing Object stimulus Read and identify Brainstorming Making the familiar strange Platform 17 Present Description Pattern poem Picture stimulus Read and identify continuous of a scene Brainstorming How it’s done Imperatives Instructions Listing Idea collision Read and match Brainstorming Emotive objects Adjective order Object Pattern poem Visualisation Read and give an description Brainstorming explanation Chain writing Maternal advice Constructions Advice/rules Listing Text stimulus Read and guess with gerund Idea collision and infinitive Brainstorming Overheard Reported speech Dialogue Listing Picture stimulus Chain writing in a café Making the Read and identify familiar strange Teaching grammar creatively  | 53 .

tree or umbrella that objects can be beside. On a bench Next to a tree Beside a lake Beneath the mountains Under a deep blue sky Lies a…. There should be a special object somewhere in the room. chair. Level Elementary and higher. What is it? Who owns it? Why is it there? 54 |  Teaching grammar creatively . Prepare the bubble table like the one below. under. Language practised Place prepositions. next to. The scene can be indoors or outdoors but should have various objects. ■■ Ask them to think a bit about the story behind the book – what kind of book? Why is it there? Where is the owner/reader? ■■ Ask them to close their eyes and imagine a scene. table chair sofa lies a … bookshelf In is a … window On a fireplace Near the tree Beside lake Procedure ■■ Show students your picture from Creative Commons. ■■ Create a poem like the one below and read it to them and ask them to guess the final object at the end of the poem. Adapt it to cover prepositions/lexis that your students know or that you want them to practise. Mystery object Aim For students to write a poem describing a etc. It can be indoors or outdoors. Preparation Find a picture of a scene from Creative Commons: (http://creativecommons. bench. for example a table.

■■ Ask students to work in pairs and choose one object. wrote a love letter. ■■ Round off the activity by asking for feedback from each group. The others should try to guess the object. Procedure ■■ Display the pictures or objects. ran out of ink. put them in groups of four or five and ask them to read each other their poems. ■■ Then ask them to work individually. Preparation Source a number of pictures of objects from Creative Commons for display in class. You can specify a number of lines or give them the pattern: (preposition)… a /the …(noun) (preposition)… a /the …(noun) (preposition)… a /the …(noun) (preposition)… a /the …(noun) (preposition)… a /the …(noun) lies/is a… ■■ When they have finished. for example: –– for a pen: lay on the desk. or bring in a number of different objects. glass or balloon. ■■ Put up the bubble table to help them with vocabulary and structure and ask them to write a poem like the example above. computer. for example. Teaching grammar creatively  | 55 . Language practised Past simple (plus other narrative tenses if at higher level). My day so far Aim For students to write a short narrative about the day’s events. scribbled on the wall. ■■ They should compare lists in pairs and then use the ideas to write a short narrative of the object’s day. drew a picture. camera/CCTV camera. They should think of all the things that the object might have done during one day. Level Pre-intermediate and higher. mobile phone. ■■ Pairs can read their narratives out and the others should guess the object. They should read one poem and tell the story. and work out its story. Give them a time limit of around five minutes to write as many things as they can think of. but without saying what the object is. ended up in the wastepaper bin. pen.

Ask them a few questions to familiarise them with the You can do this by searching Google Images (www. Prepare the questions and the poem pattern in the second and third sections of the procedure for display on the board/screen. Example: –– Can you find someone who is texting? –– Can you find someone who is sitting on a bench? –– Can you find someone who is reading? –– Can you find someone who is looking at the clock? –– Can you find someone who is watching out for the train? –– Can you find someone near the clock/by the stairs/by the lamppost. Ask them to discuss the following questions: –– Who are they – what job do they do? –– What do they look like? –– Are they happy? –– Where are they standing/sitting? –– What are they doing? –– Are they catching a train or waiting for someone? –– Who are they going to see/who are they waiting for? –– What is on their mind at the moment? 56 |  Teaching grammar creatively .org).? ■■ Ask students to work in pairs and choose one of the people on the platform. etc. Level Elementary or higher. Poem pattern Line 1: Where are they? Line 2: An (adjective) (woman/man) with (clothes or physical features) Line 3: What are they doing? Line 4: And thinking of… Procedure ■■ Project the picture or give it out to the students. Language practised Present continuous. Preparation Find an atmospheric picture of people waiting on a station platform. Platform 17 Aim For students to write a collaborative pattern poem describing people waiting on a station or Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.

boil some water in a kettle. sequencing words. Pour the boiling water on the tea leaves in the pot. Serve in cups with milk or lemon. ■■ When the pairs have finished. Teaching grammar creatively  | 57 . get them to read out their verse. Then throw out the water and put in two spoons full of tea leaves. ■■ Give the students the poem pattern. ■■ Finally you can put all the verses together to form a poem called ‘Travellers’ or ‘Platform 17’. pour a little in the teapot to warm it. How to make a cup of tea First. Prepare enough of the ‘lucky-dip slips’ for each pair of students to have one each. Example: –– sitting on the bench –– a sad woman with a long nose –– staring into space –– thinking of wasted time. Cut them up and put them in a hat. Preparation Prepare enough ‘making tea’ instructions for each pair of students to have a set. Level Pre-intermediate or higher. How it’s done Aim For students to write a set of instructions for common actions. When it is hot. Cut them up. Leave the tea for two minutes. The other students should try to guess who they are describing. Language practised Imperatives. ■■ Each pair should use ideas from their discussion to write the verse. Add sugar if required. Bring the water back to the boil.

collect the slips in. Get them to walk around the room. ■■ Then ask each pair to take a slip from the hat. reading the instructions and matching them to the activities on their list. for each pair to have one copy. ■■ When they have finished. They should write a number by each activity. Activity Number Eating spaghetti Falling in love Getting a promotion Having a relaxing evening Bathing a dog Going to a wedding Looking after a two-year-old Taking an exam Procedure ■■ Put students in pairs and give them each a list of the ‘making tea’ instructions. ■■ Give each pair an activity list. 58 |  Teaching grammar creatively . they can sit down. Give each a number and pin them round the walls. Ask them what language helped them to sequence the instructions. Lucky-dip slips –– Eating spaghetti –– Falling in love –– Getting a promotion –– Having a relaxing evening –– Bathing a dog –– Going to a wedding –– Looking after a two-year-old –– Taking an exam Also prepare the activities list. Explain that these are common activities that do not normally come with instructions. ■■ Go through the answers. When they have found one set of instructions for each activity. but that they are going to write a set of instructions for their activity.

Adjective 5 ………….. Preparation Prepare a set of adjective strips for each group of five or six students in your class. Level Pre-intermediate or higher.. Adjective 4 ………….. Emotive objects Aim For students to write a collaborative description of an object. Adjective 6 Noun That (more information about the object) And (action) Teaching grammar creatively  | 59 . Adjective 1 …………. Adjective 3 …………. A/n box A/n necklace A/n pair of shoes A/n photo frame A/n notebook A/n vase A/n clock Prepare a poem framework for display. Language practised Adjective order... She/he (action) the ………….. Adjective 2 ………….

■■ Put up the poem frame. red. Example: She took the: delicate antique Spanish silver ring that he had given her for their engagement and threw it into the river. Remind them to leave space between each adjective for other adjectives to be added in the correct order. round. They should leave space either side of the adjective for other students to add adjectives. Level Intermediate and higher. don’t forget. sitting round a table. 60 |  Teaching grammar creatively . resist+ing. ■■ When the strips have been right round the group. ■■ They should read it out. ‘A small. ■■ Each student in the group should look at the noun (for example. refrain from. necklace) and write one adjective describing it. for example. be careful + full infinitive ■■ avoid. Each group should choose one to read out for the other groups. (work out a reason why). how did the owner get it? (bought it on holiday/inherited it from an aunt/was given it by a girlfriend etc. beware of. Language practised Imperatives. e. forget about. they can look at and read the finished results. Others can try to deduce the reason behind the action. try. ■■ They should then read out their poems. lacquered. but without saying the name of the object. must + bare infinitive ■■ remember. ■■ They should then pass the strip to their right. etc. Each student should take one. puts it on/opens it/takes something out/destroys it. infinitives and gerunds: ■■ should. Japanese wooden…’ The other students should guess the object. take care.g. Students should put the ideas they discussed into the poem frame. Give each group a set of adjective strips. Maternal advice Aim For students to imagine giving advice from an animal to its young. and the next student should add an adjective. Procedure ■■ Put students in groups of five or six.) –– action: a situation where the owner does something to the object. ■■ Ask the students to work in pairs and imagine: –– more information: about/history of the object.

you can’t go wrong if you wash. ■■ Brainstorm with the class what other advice a mother cat might give to a young cat. drawing a long breath. ‘I don’t see how I could possibly remember it all. The others try to guess the animal. dolphin. quite worried. sit right down in the midst of them and start washing. Put these up on the board as they offer them. and who are confusing to you. etc. Teaching grammar creatively  | 61 . Preparation Copy the ‘Motherly Advice’ text for each student. concluded Jennie. They’ll end up by quieting down and watching you. Some noise frightens you into a jump. ‘of course you also wash to get clean and to keep clean. dog. ■■ Ask students to give you names of different animals (bird.). ■■ Students read their advice to each other in small groups or to the class. Motherly Advice ‘If … anyone scolds you – wash. if you want to use it. by Paul Gallico Procedure ■■ Give out the ‘Motherly Advice’ text.’ ‘Goodness!’ said Peter.’ she was saying. ‘Try to avoid fishing nets’. ‘If you slip and fall off something and somebody laughs at you – wash . ‘Be careful not to come in the house with muddy paws’.’ From Jennie. Advice In this extract advice is being given to someone younger and less experienced. Get students to read it and discuss in pairs who is speaking (a cat). and somebody you know saw you were frightened – begin washing immediately.… Whatever difficulty you may be in. If you come into a room full of people you do not know. Read the extract and decide who is speaking. For example. ‘Remember to watch out for cats’.’ ‘If somebody calls you and you don’t care to come and still you don’t wish to make it a direct insult – wash…’ ‘And’. ■■ Get students in pairs to choose an animal and write some maternal advice from that animal to a younger animal.

Procedure ■■ Display the portraits or hand out copies. Ask them to imagine they are sitting in the café and can overhear a conversation between their two characters. Preparation Display around eight art portraits of men and women so that students can see them all. ■■ Ask them to imagine: –– who is their character? (Name. replied. or make one copy for each pair. Put them in a hat. town/country they live in) –– think of three adjectives to describe them. Make sure each member of the pairs has a different number. ■■ Pass around the hat and get each student to take a number. Student B should write the next line. said. Level Pre-intermediate and higher. Tell the students they are in a café and these are the people they can see around them. asked. get the pairs to swap the conversations with another pair. ■■ When they have finished. The portraits should be numbered. ■■ Ask them to take a piece of paper and write a report of the conversation. ■■ Ask the students to look at the picture with that number. –– what are their hopes and fears? –– what do they worry about? –– what is on their mind at the moment? ■■ Put students in pairs. for example. Overheard in a café Aim For students to report overheard dialogues. job. denied etc. for example: He asked her why she felt like that. Student A should begin. They should try to identify the two characters. writing at the top of the paper: She said that she wasn’t very happy. Language practised Reported speech. 62 |  Teaching grammar creatively . Make enough for everyone in the class to have one. married. Write the numbers one to eight on small pieces of paper.

NY: Cambridge University Press. TESOL Quarterly 29: 9–31. N (2000) Vocabulary in language teaching. Introduction Hadfield. grammatical pattern. F and Lockhart R (1972) Levels of Processing: has always emphasised ‘creativity’ in his teaching A Framework for Memory Research. Conclusion Tin. Critical Creative Processes. including 4/2 2 July 2013. Available online at: http://journals. New Zealand and continuous writing skills through the creative writing has been appointed International Ambassador for module. Tibet and Madagascar. S. A (2012) Creative Writing for Students She has also conducted short courses. was published in 2013 by Routledge in the 1/2: 14–24. J and Hadfield. aiac. M (2013) Improving the 5th formers’ Language Studies at Unitec.htm Teacher Education team in the Department of Murugiah.php/alls/article/viewFile/83/79 Excellent!. of Education. T (2007) A Report on a Collaborative Creative Writing Endeavour: Spreading the Spirit This chapter has demonstrated a number of of Creativity through Creative Writing Workshops techniques for generating creativity – often thought in the Asia-Pacific Region. Schmitt. and workshops for teachers in many other countries. he Craik. France and New Zealand and worked on Macmillan.htm. development projects with ministries of education and aid agencies in China. Humanising Language of as the breaking of rules – in order to practise Teaching. mar07/mart05.hltmag. the Communication Games series (Pearson). He is the author of several ELT books Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour II: 617–84. New Zealand and Britain. vocabulary learning An Introduction to Teaching English (OUP). in M Runco (ed) Simonton. Classroom Dynamics and Nemati. References He has always had a great interest in ‘teaching Campbell. and to engage with the Language Teaching. International book. D (1960) Blind variation and selective English in difficult circumstances’. co-authored with Zoltan Journal of Vocational and Technical Education Dornyei. A (1964) The Act of Creation. She has written over 30 books. MA: MIT Press. and a previous career in many different countries. Maley. Jill Hadfield has worked as a teacher trainer in Koestler. making it their own TESOL courses at Exeter University Graduate School and so develop an L2 identity. a three level primary course (Pearson). Ward T and Finke R (1995) The Creative Cognition Approach. the Advances in Language and Literature Studies IATEFL. B (1995) Social Identity. Harlow: Pearson. Africa. Available online at: She is currently Associate Professor on the Language mart01. C (1990) Writing Games. Cambridge. after a decade at Auckland University. We believe that such activities will prove more motivational to learners. Cresskill. Her latest strategies and long-term retention. New York: Britain. New York. Psychological Review 67: 380–400. and in doing so will enable them to take Charles Hadfield teaches on the postgraduate possession of the language. Reading Games. Available online at: www. language more personally than traditional grammar activities. NJ: Hampton Press. Smith. Research and Resources in Language Teaching series. cause them to process Tomlinson. B (2003) Developing Materials for language more deeply. and the application of rules. with four collections to date. London: Continuum. A (2009) Memory. Norton Peirce. including Writing Games.hltmag. As a poet published in the Oxford Basics to Teaching English and the Oxford Basics series. of which she is also series editor. spending many retention in creative thought as in other knowledge years working in ‘developing countries’ in Asia and processes. seminars and Teachers – Humanising Language Teaching. D (2003) ‘Creativity as variation and selection: some critical constraints’. Teaching grammar creatively  | 63 . Journal for and training. and Language Learning. Motivating Learning.

more creative learning Students present meanings of words they don’t environment for the learners and a more fulfilling. ■■ How is the activity normally done? We combine elements of a language in a way that we ■■ What alternative do I suggest? have never heard before and express thoughts that ■■ How does the proposed change affect teacher are truly ours. The activities in this chapter were designed with Why do we then think that creativity is something secondary and adult classes in mind and they extra in our classrooms and not an integral part of are informed by a variety of current approaches what we do? Couldn’t we integrate creativity into the including learner-centredness. everyday practice of our teaching? multiple intelligences. We improvise food idea be used in different ways? we never ate before. 7 From everyday activities to creative tasks Judit Fehér Introduction With each typical classroom/coursebook activity discussed. we normally aim to help thinking that is used by many teachers around the our students to connect the form of a word with its world to think about and plan their lessons. namely: meaning so that they can get to the meaning if they come across the form (they see or hear the word) ■■ working with the language system: and that they can come up with the form (say it or –– presenting and practising vocabulary write it) when they have the meaning in mind. humanistic teaching and task-based learning. know in English. In this chapter. students can do some of this creative work. 64 |  From everyday activities to creative tasks . objects. but the –– developing listening and reading. we provide the form. We are humans and we simply cannot help but be creative. This often calls for a lot of –– developing writing teacher creativity. We make decisions in situations we and learner creativity? have never been in before. choose the word ‘train’. give a simple definition. I will use a framework of When teaching vocabulary. mime. While sticking to this familiar framework. imitate the movement and sound of a train and show students a simple drawing of a train. I aim to give tips to teachers on doing just that: to integrate creativity into everyday Presenting and practising vocabulary classroom practice and typical language learning activities and exercises. it is a life skill we use on a daily basis. or use tools differently from their Background to the activities designated use. Procedure ■■ Give students an example of what we mean by different clues for the meaning of words. images. variation. more rewarding teaching experience for the teachers. For example. This is how we survive. extension – how can the things we never knew of before. When –– presenting and practising grammar we present vocabulary. spoken and/or written. and give some guide to the meaning –– improving pronunciation. find ways of using faulty objects we cannot replace. holistic learning. form our opinions on ■■ Adaptation. I will use the following format: Creativity is not for special days and not for a select few. through a context. if your topic is travelling by train. I would like to show that small changes introduced step-by-step From meanings to words at different levels of teaching can gradually lead to a richer and more motivational. as they try to find ways to clarify meaning without using the mother tongue. sounds ■■ working with skills: and verbal clues or by creating a situation in which –– developing speaking the meaning is clarified. neuro-linguistic programming.

Check with the first group if it is words that need to be recycled. before railway announcements in your country Thus to keep a record of the new words is an for the meaning of ‘station’. new words and put them in the box. mime. See the links at the end of this chapter to sites that give you rules. The box then ‘You can get on and off trains here’. part of their active vocabulary. activities they do not know in English but they think would and exercises. and ask them to say the word. ■■ If you have a specific list of words you need to ■■ pelmanism teach. make a big poster/slide of the words in the students’ mother tongue and ask groups ■■ snap to choose the five they want to learn the most. gapped texts. ■■ Ask groups of four to six students to write down in Lessons from the box their mother tongue five words on your topic that Student-generated vocabulary games. platform. ■■ word jumbles ■■ snakes and ladders ■■ gap-filling ■■ multiple choice. For a word presented to a student to become a ■■ Ask groups to give their clues. the quality of repetitions but the mother-tongue word. Whether it is more have chosen. Every now and then you can use the word cards to ■■ Continue like this. collocations. 1990: 117). word to phonetic sign. ■■ miming competition ■■ This technique can be used with any topic ■■ crossword puzzles which students have some experience of ■■ word search and knowledge about. If not. to recap. e. sounds. different levels of creativity. The easiest ■■ Ask if another group thinks they have a clue for the way is to have a word box in your classroom and ask same meaning. ticket office. written in the Michael McCarthy claims that ‘seven repetitions seem students’ mother tongue.g. and then at longer and longer intervals. provide the word yourself. timetable. such as the drawings. If there is a group with the same a student every lesson to make word cards for the meaning. important aspect of effective teaching. From everyday activities to creative tasks  | 65 . paraphrasing – anything number of new words. or fewer depends on many factors. matching word to definition. Variation two parts of a word. be useful to know. students in a group pretend to be opportunities for them to experience and use the trains while some students make sounds like a word in a memorable way soon after the first loudspeaker and they sing the tune you hear encounter. recycling can be done at three ■■ Ask students if any of them know the English word. and the lapses of time between the repetitions. we need to create For example. Get them to repeat the word and The teacher makes the game/exercise write it on the board. word to picture. words in skills work. where you find the picture they drew. to be enough for most people to be able to memorise ■■ Ask groups to provide clues to the words they a word’ (McCarthy. etc. one at a time. for example. These may include: clues from time to time and say the word. get them to give their clue. station. asking groups to repeat their devise games and exercises. They can use drama. seat reservation. Apart from using the the same meaning. tools and ready-made word games. e. or they show a becomes the class’s word bank. ■■ matching and dominoes.g.

etc. An example of a possible story: ‘Sue and Peter were revising the physics Presenting and practising grammar homework and John was washing up when Typically. dominoes and the necessary task sheets for each other. and write this name down. 66 |  From everyday activities to creative tasks . a vocabulary game. wide range of experiences. e. Procedure ■■ Choose a game/activity your students know well. dominoes.g. The involvement interesting physics experiments. most John in twenty seconds and then we did a lot of often the coursebook writer. a timeline.) Ask them to write this down as a short story.g. get and demonstrate it saying ‘I was correcting tests the groups to swap games and play each around six yesterday evening. grammar structures are presented to Superman arrived. First he did the washing-up for learners in texts written by a third party. making sure pairs imagination and preferences for learning. and logically. they can provide the cards. cards. We laughed a lot in the procedure for the learner is limited to: and we understood and learned everything easily. which is a rather limited engagement ask concept questions. and Peter were revising the physics homework and I was washing up around six yesterday evening. the tools (board. doing around six?’ ■■ Ask groups to give feedback to each other ■■ Get groups to report to the whole class. What were you other’s games. The do not get their own story back. ■■ understanding the use and the ‘meaning’ We were looking at some Superman comic books of the structure when we heard “Help! Help!”. cards. etc. complex engagement of the learner − thus a more memorable learning experience for most. ‘Superman. ■■ Get students to write them/part of them on This procedure engages the learners linguistically the board and use them to explain the grammar. they think could have changed that time of day Teams of about six students work together to invent for the better for them. etc. students who chose similar times. Ask them to write down this time of ■■ Put them into small groups of about four to six. Superman said ■■ identifying it in the text goodbye and left at once.g. Give groups the ■■ Get students to line up from the earliest to the necessary art supplies (paper. unhappy. and their own unique ■■ Collect and redistribute them. ‘around six Give them a selection of word cards from the box. e. Tell them that their task is to make the game/ activity using these words. a personalised story. in the evening’. etc. day on a sticky note and wear it. Students make a game/exercise using From blues to bliss a familiar framework/rules Presenting and practising the different uses Once your students are familiar with a game of the past simple and past continuous with or activity.’ Students invent a new game ■■ Ask groups to find a person or a group of people This can be a class or school project/competition. boards. ■■ Ask students to remember their previous day and get them to revise how it goes.’ ■■ they can organise a games session where they can play each other’s games.’ ■■ the games have to be original ■■ Ask pairs to imagine that the person(s) really ■■ teams need to write up the rules and make all arrived and the changes their arrival caused.’ ■■ generalising rules Follow-up ■■ applying rules. tired. Ask pairs to mime alternative suggested below results in a more the story as other students tell the story. represent them on a given that our learners have a variety of skills. Then make small groups of pencils. and find a time when they were a bit bored. Tell students that: e. ■■ there is a deadline Write the starting sentence on the board: ‘J J were ___ing and J was ___ing when ___ arrived. ■■ As groups are writing their stories.). coloured latest time of day. Ask students to share what they were doing at the time they chose ■■ When the games/activities are ready. monitor and help as needed. ‘Sue on the games/activities they made.

words on the sheets or other words that come to ■■ Get students to combine all the stories into one them with the same two sounds. Tally the votes and do ■■ Get them to mingle and keep repeating their lines. ■■ Put the sheets on the walls/floor/desks or pass them around and ask students to write more Variation words on the sheets with the same sounds. They can use any of the another pair. a speaking task. ■■ You need to find the appropriate context that relates students’ lives and/or their imagination ■■ Ask students to decide who is A. e. ■■ to raise students’ awareness of different sounds: ■■ Ask them which English sounds they find hard to give (groups of) students cards with one of the pronounce and elicit the ones that are typically phonetic symbols in the tongue twisters. To the same ■■ run a tongue-twister competition sheet. ‘grammar words’ as needed.’ All the students should make a copy of the sentences. B. This will mean that you’ll have Improving pronunciation groups A1 and A2. They can also add adventure story.g. you can use jazz chants in a similar way.g. and find other students with the same tongue twister and sit down together. subdivide them. Add some yourself as you walk around and monitor. like using tongue twisters. Follow-up ■■ Ask groups to put the parts in order. ‘The three silly Smith sisters think that the maths class on Variation Thursday is awesome. ■■ Give each student a part of one of the tongue ■■ Ask groups to vote for the tongue twister that they twisters. ■■ Collect them and make a grammar exercise using ■■ Put students into groups of four and tell them to students’ stories. e. add a sound that is in contrast with the ■■ use them as a warm-up activity before first sound and an example. Procedure ■■ In their original groups. copy of the tongue twister and return with it to their original groups. e. I’ll twist your tongue ■■ Ask them to write the group’s letter sign on their Students write tongue twisters collectively. and then You can use these new tongue twisters in many ways: perform the tongue twister. them. Or ask the creators of the stories to make as many sentences as possible using words with up the exercises themselves and then swap with the sounds on their sheet. Pronunciation is most often improved by recognition ■■ Ask groups to put their lines together to make a – repetition activities. (Groups of) students stand up Write the phonetic symbols of these on one and sit down quickly every time they hear the A3 sheet each with an example of a word that sound on their card contains this sound. Ask the groups to write tense. or a report about arriving sit together. they then read out ■■ Choose some tongue twisters for your class their tongue twisters and get each other to (see the sites below). Ask students with the same letter to future continuous. C. which gave me the for their lines. They will all need a copy of the tongue twister they make.g. etc. Some form of this can be very tongue twister. find the most challenging. a dream holiday for their groups. Read out difficult for people in your students’ country. B. and they can add to and take away idea for this activity. You’ll have four groups (A. they can write their own. From everyday activities to creative tasks  | 67 . put the verb into the right choose one of the sheets. Cut them into smaller parts. ■■ To practise the stress-timed rhythm of English.g. /s/ sink. After teaching some to your students. from any line as they think best. C and D in to the grammar point.g. They need to find the best order playful. repeat them. the tongue twisters. If groups have more than eight members. D) this way. e. e. /θ/ think. taking the sentences they wrote with on a faraway planet for present continuous. the winning tongue twister with the whole class. groups B1 and B2.

g. a short with a student. Check who chose which object and make sure ■■ The basic idea of this activity is to aid students you have a good variety. with. e. their To be able to do this. students’ knowledge about the world. school bag. ideas. at school and in their free time. their feelings. neglected. half become their shoes. new etc. and why.g. they become their themselves to different objects. Write the objects students mention on the board. home. aren’t you? ■■ Students talk about themselves. fork. dirty. ■■ Students talk as someone else. Students talk to each e. fork. Telltale objects ■■ Give students a time limit of about ten minutes to They identify with one of their own objects and talk mingle and ask them to take notes.e. scenario may be enough. etc. etc. They receive some information about a –– Joe: Yes. i. etc. own plate. through asking them to choose some their sticky note/card and wear it. –– Judit: And you. old. ■■ In lower-level classes. maths book. Demonstrate this in this role? If the situation is familiar to them. ■■ After the demonstration. half of the armchair. school bag. If it is something that the 68 |  From everyday activities to creative tasks . as a different person. to play some party music in the background. etc. the character they are. clean. I’m Judit’s bathing suit. ask students what adjectives could describe the objects (Judit’s Students talk about themselves bathing suit: bored. they can choose ‘computer’ if they have one. sad. (refer to the adjectives on the board). sad. –– Joe: I’m a little tired. every day for several hours.g. school bag. Variations fork. old. e. other in different object pairs. Developing speaking Example: Typically. clean. They will mingle and meet each other and chat with each other as these objects. They talk about a situation/story they –– Judit: Ages! etc. the question is: to what extent can I rely on my and they will need to explain why they think so. new. ■■ When time is up. They are asked to –– Joe: That’s right. ball. ■■ Ask students what objects they use regularly at bored. They act and speak –– Judit: Does Joe often play on you? in a role. busy). speaking activities fall into three –– Judit: Hello. are not part of. etc. they will need to have a chat experience and their imagination to be able to act and ask each other questions. and give them an aim for. their own plate. coloured paper to represent an experience they ■■ Explain that they are to become the object on had or through asking them to compare their sticky note/card. we need to communicate to them who this person is and what the situation is. ■■ Ask students to imagine that this is a party of their This can be done using different prompts. Give them a minute to imagine what it might feel like to be that Students talk as someone else object. This can be done in many different them to write the object they have chosen on ways. Role cards exchange They need to find out if the objects they talk to are happy. When students speak in role as a different person.. to the swimming pool once a week. and they pretend to be that person in the given –– Judit: Good for you! Judit only takes me situation. How are you? opinions. ■■ Students talk about someone or something –– Joe: How long have you been with Judit? else. etc. television. dirty. Joe’s trumpet: tired. talking about ■■ Give students a sticky note/card each and ask themselves. bicycle. mobile phone. computer. Nice to meet you. etc. which all your students have. only use two objects. a problem. e. bored. plate. students become their schoolbag and the other ■■ Ask students to choose an object they have. chosen objects. share facts about themselves. busy. ask students which objects they Procedure found happy. You may want about themselves in this role at a ‘party’. old. situation. relaxed. relaxed.g. busy. Prompts for roles Are they a happy object? Sad? Clean? Dirty? Busy? Relaxed? Bored? Old? New? Write these adjectives When we would like our students to act and speak on the board. toothbrush.g. e. categories: You are Joe’s trumpet.

g.: friendly → impatient. Ask them to divide the cards into to get the emotions and how they worked out how two columns and then write prompts in the two the other student was feeling. Here the limitation is the emotions personal interpretations.g. Collect the cards and redistribute them. reserved → landscapes and imagine that they live in that infatuated. From everyday activities to creative tasks  | 69 . They change to the second ■■ Explain the situation you want students to write emotion when their partner uses the first one role cards for. Procedure Procedure ■■ Select about five or six landscapes and put them ■■ Choose a situation students are familiar with. Show the hole in the T-shirt I bought it from you ■■ Some other creativity-triggering limitations yesterday. e. or ‘Why are you so reserved?’ Adjectives realised it was torn. it to anybody. Visual cues can make a to students’ thoughts. Have two extra cards for picture. e. ‘We are in a shop. I showed –– start your reply with the last word your it to my mother and this partner says hole was there.g. top of one of the cards and the other character on ■■ After the role plays. –– one of the pair can only speak using questions ■■ Give each pair a paperclip and ask them to clip –– one of the pair cannot say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ the two cards together. Change of feelings scenarios Find my picture home! Short scenarios often work better if we impose Students describe their life in a picture. Make sure pairs do not get –– the speakers have to start their utterances their own cards back. Alternatively. You are sitting at a table need to have at least A3 sizes. ■■ Put students into pairs and give them two blank ■■ Demonstrate how this works with a student. on the walls so that everyone can see them. everyone a feelings card. e. e.g. e. Ask him/her to dance. Ask them to write one of the characters on Then set a time limit of about three minutes.g. can be done by the students. or when the time you real-life situations. ■■ Prepare cards with two different feelings written ■■ Ask students to mentally choose one of the on them. ask students if they managed the other card. you are so bought a T-shirt yesterday and at home they friendly!’. ■■ Pairs act out the situation using the cards as a rehearsal. kind/nice or the shop assistant that sold the T-shirt to him/her. and triggers their problem. however. students have little experience of. columns. they need to start talking with the first Procedure emotion on their card. and say if they think the dialogue was acted A: Can you dance with me? out using the role cards they made. The customer is now talking to with similar meanings are OK. with a word starting with the next letter of the alphabet. Ask someone else. too. etc. Assign a letter to at a table alone. make alone. cards.g. ‘Oh. You’ll A: You are at the disco. The customer in a sentence about them. B: You are at the disco. each picture. we tend to give ■■ Describe the situation to your learners and give them information on how to act and what to say. B: Do me a favour. like this: Variations Customer ■■ In lower-level classes. include: When I got home. Who are they? What is their life like? What demonstration. set is over. they need to express. give students only Do this Say this one emotion. A: Are you Peter? ■■ Pairs perform their dialogues as others listen B: Be sure I am. You see Student A a slide-show and project them. Explain that as they act out the situation. e. as this gives a direction others select the picture.’ unfriendly. They finish when both of them have Have a chat about students’ experiences in similar named both of the feelings. while the some kind of limitation. do they do? Are they lonely or do they live in a family? Are they rich or poor? etc. situation clear at a glance while leaving it open for solving thinking. Tell them not to show This.

an people in it adventure story. to pictures. the place and the problem. –– What is their mood? ■■ Ask original groups to discuss which story –– Is there a conflict? based on their drawing they liked the most. to jot ideas down. A lot of what has been said about ■■ Ask pairs to compare notes and then choose one developing speaking applies to developing writing. Ask students to ■■ Put the two groups that exchanged drawings listen to the pieces and imagine two people together and ask them to tell each other talking. They must perform their dialogues. groups can write key words ■■ Stop after each extract and give students a minute to prompt the story they would like to hear. story on a sheet of A4 paper. creative writing activities and/or followed up by a 70 |  From everyday activities to creative tasks . We often ask students to write something similar to ■■ Play the pieces again and ask students to jot what they have read and/or we give them a scenario down what people in their imagined situations and some prompts on what to write about and what may be saying. same numbers announced. a romantic story. –– Who is talking? ■■ Get different groups to exchange drawings two –– What are they talking about? or three more times. ■■ You can use music to trigger students’ ■■ Play all the pieces again in the same order with the imagination. –– Do they agree or disagree? They may decide to give their drawing to that –– Is there a change of topic/feelings? particular group. groups about five minutes to prepare to tell the story of the other group based on the drawing. that suggest different moods. Tell me my story! Variation Procedure You can ask students to identify with characters ■■ Put students into small groups and ask them or objects in a picture: to decide about a story they would like to hear. As with speaking in role. each other. Ask them to write the title on it. ■■ project it. Musical dialogues ■■ Ask two groups to exchange drawings. Procedure All the students in a group must take part in the ■■ Play four or five short instrumental pieces of music story-telling. give students one or two minutes to compare in pairs what situations. announce the number Variations you have assigned to it. language to use. of the imagined dialogues and get prepared to too. ■■ Ask them to mingle and chat about their lives in ■■ Play the pieces again. too. ■■ After each piece of music. they try to match the people they talk to with the pictures and write down the person’s Students talk about a third person real name with the letter sign of their picture. They should then think about: the stories. and ask them to choose a person or an object in the picture and speak about their life as –– Who are the main characters? that person or object. The others guess who/what –– What is the storyline? they are –– What is the title? ■■ the student who makes the correct guess first is ■■ Ask students to draw an illustration related to this the next person to talk. etc. Give Students make up a dialogue prompted by music. a science fiction story. ■■ Before playing an extract. and then ask pairs to the role of the person they imagined. Ask them if they liked their life in the picture and why/why not. ■■ choose a picture with quite a few objects and ■■ What kind of story should it be? A fairy tale. Developing writing people and dialogues they imagined. Creative speaking activities can often be run as perform it. As they talk to which music inspired the performers. Play some extracts for characters. and repeat the second and third steps each time. The class guesses not say which picture they are from. students will also need ■■ Check with the class how they matched people prompts to talk about a third person. ■■ Instead of drawing.

would like to be answered. If you misinterpret this kind of factual text in real life. Both text types ■■ Pairs read each other’s letters and comment may allow for some learner creativity. however. Engage each student in two chats at a time to keep them busy. parts of the same posts or tweets. writing activity. making an arrangement or appointment or listening/reading. completion. Change of feelings scenarios Hard listening/reading tasks Instant messaging like real or simulated online chats/ Pre-reading/listening questions and text messages work best. personal relationship between the –– When and where was it bought? reader/listener and the text. they can send a sheet of paper back and forth. Developing listening and reading ■■ Those who have done each other’s exercises When we want our students to practise their discuss questions and solutions in pairs or groups. These allow for many interpretations.g. so with the soft ones. From everyday activities to creative tasks  | 71 . You miss the bus or Telltale objects sign a contract that goes against your interests. receptive skills. They could also write a letter as one of the make some factual mistakes in it. Ask groups to This can be done as diary entries. Then they match each other’s text. It is also possible instructions and give it to another pair to perform to ask students to make a summary of the text and it. Discuss these after the e. Ask them to make comprehension exercises for each other. ■■ In different groups they swap and do each Tell me my story! other’s exercises. nature of the different texts. but more on them/reply to them. How you imagine a character in a story ■■ Pairs describe a scenario in which someone and what your opinion is of their actions does not returns an object to a shop: fall into the categories of right or wrong. Ask students to predict information they will get from a text. Comprehension exercises from the students Find my picture home! Procedure Students write about their life in the picture. discussing what happened at school. true or false questions. like open-ended questions. or multiple-choice exercises. e. you are in trouble. is an essential –– What does the customer want? element of stories. student will have to find and correct. If students cannot do the predictions real thing. We usually get this evidence through comprehension questions. This –– What is the object and what is wrong with it? open-endedness. ■■ They then get the solutions for the tasks they have done and check them. It also works if they get Musical dialogues the same text and the two groups need to make Ask students to write up their dialogue with stage two different types of exercise. ■■ Pairs exchange scenarios and write an email/letter Our comprehension tasks need to reflect the of complaint using the prompts. or ask them to focus on different aspects of texts to the pictures. that Comprehension tasks fall into two main categories: your students are familiar with the genre you want ■■ Hard listening/reading tasks them to write. which establishes a very intimate. Students write a letter to themselves in the role ■■ Soft listening/reading tasks of the object they identified with. the same text. blog/Facebook read/listen to different texts.g. or get them to write questions they Find a scenario that works for instant messages. they are familiar with letter formats These allow for one interpretation and one correct if you want them to write a letter. They rely on the reader’s/listener’s imagination and personal Role-cards exchange judgement. we want some evidence of what ■■ Discuss any issues in plenary. Students write the stories instead of telling them. answer. ordering. ■■ Divide the class into two groups. they understand and how they interpret what they have read or heard. which another characters to the other character in the dialogue. You need to make sure.

Ask students to considerations such as: imagine it and write it down or talk about it in ■■ How is the topic/text going to be relevant and groups or pairs. dramatic and with the illustrations. Then they compare ■■ How are the learners going to derive pleasure these with what really happens. in a creative process instead of keeping them in a ■■ Stop the recording or students’ reading at a point more passive and receptive role is that this decision where a description of a character. everyday classroom to elaborate on details or influence the developments exercises and procedures. She is a co-author of Creative Resources with Bonnie Tsai (IAL. teaching materials she has written target secondary students. running courses and gestures and facial expressions how people in workshops mainly in Hungary and the UK. make sure you ask them before ■■ How are the learners going to be able to rely they start reading to cover the part of the text on their other skills and knowledge? you don’t want them to read. They can also be invited creative alternatives to typical. which are courses developed for Hungary. teacher trainer them to play the pieces and explain their choices. drama or drawing. Taken together. instrumentally. Most of the the story feel. These include: Language Activities for Teenagers (CUP) (contributor). more make a drawing of their character. we have seen a number of more imagine or interpret the text. you can stop at any point and ask them to decide how the story goes on and Through their creativity and the freedom creative continue the story the way students suggest. thinking gives to them. take a deeply and in more ways than with activities that vote or you can make the rule that you always do not call for the use of their creativity. As a trainer. to achieve an aim? mime. Ask Judit Fehér is a freelance teacher. (If they are reading. which other students then musical skills. reflect on their own life. have a chance to tap into their own experience and Then get them to compare with each other. Your Exam Success and the Bloggers series (NTK). students cartoon strip after listening to or reading a story. They included activities in a story. M (1990) Vocabulary.e. Then groups enjoyable and more motivational learning swap drawings and describe the character based experience. Then discuss. act in roles. which is a collection of skills-based. Judit works for events. With others. motivating? ■■ Stop the recording or students’ reading at a point ■■ How am I going to keep my learners busy? where there is a decisive moment in the story. Soft listening/reading tasks Conclusion These tasks invite students to share how they In this chapter. 72 |  From everyday activities to creative tasks . on the drawing. Oxford: Oxford other feedback. i. and Creative Communication. and materials writer. their feelings automatically takes care of a lot of other or a scene can logically fit. Ask them to tends to lead to a richer. in which students create exercises and games for each other that they normally get ready-made in ■■ Ask students to draw an illustration or a books or from their teachers. students get involved more If there is more than one suggestion. It is imagination. and their levels from total a dialogue/story with several different emotions/ beginner to advanced. Atlanta). Her students’ age has ranged ■■ Ask students to sit facing each other as you play from five-day-old to 60+. The result take the first suggestion you get. of their work is more characteristic of them as individuals and expresses more who they are and ■■ Give the descriptions of the main characters in a where they are at the moment. If you tell them from what they have done and achieved? the story orally. ■■ Ask students to choose pieces of music to represent different characters in a story. also possible to ask them to make some mistakes animate objects or use their artistic. more memorable. this story to different groups of students. Groups compare the description the other group made References with the original description. Get them to show each other through Pilgrims and the British Council. Groups return the drawings with the descriptions they wrote on them. and they give each McCarthy.) Get them to imagine ■■ How are they going to use the language what happens next and share it through talking. The beauty of engaging our learners need to find. University Press. task-based modular online materials.

on the spur drama or music. This tends to make us consider of the moment. we are inclined to performance is vital to target language development associate it with a high degree of mental agility. This chapter begins by briefly looking at typical But sometimes we suddenly decide. These are less Waiting for little ‘c’ communicative creativity and oral spectacular. and growth. 2012). or are forced patterns of interaction in EFL classrooms worldwide to decide. growing. We often start off with an idea or creativity in EFL classroom interaction. more process-sensitive instruction. and many target language communicative competence in of us admire creative people for their talent and their systematic ways. We typically aged 13. learner-centred communicative activities bin in one of my primary EFL classes in Germany a designed to engage foreign language learners in few years ago. ultimately perhaps. are prepared to respond adequately. testing and outcome-oriented character or potential of daily cooking and all the accountability. Good teachers are alert to intelligence. it presents a small selection of little Jenny. exceptional for ‘failing forward’. given the limited behaviour. immediate desire. who tried to express the notion of ‘living view it in terms of thinking outside the box. a typical class. Placing strong emphasis on communication as participation When we learn a foreign language. experimenting. ‘Herr Kurtz. we are not aware of the creative standards. message across.). or novel ideas. because she managed to get her referred to as ‘improvisations’. but nevertheless equally remarkable spontaneity to emerge in the EFL classroom is simply instances of creative thought. The activities are henceforth clever guess. This was a pretty target language. processes and acts in everyday life. foreign language teachers also extraordinary achievements. and partially learner-regulated and However. ‘Creativity is inventing. and proceed with a memorised recipe or written script we find in a cookery book. we also engage and on learning as transformation of participatory in multiple instances of little ‘c’ creativity. ‘In our house. referred to as little ‘c’ creativity in amount of class time and the number of learners in scholarly discussions (Sawyer. to change or add a few ingredients. in this upstairs’ in the target language. taking risks. literature. mainly because of its inherent potential flexibility and. expression. communicative creativity occurring in class and we commonly think of great pieces of art. attrib. But usually. coming up with way generating partly unexpected. and having fun’ (Mary Lou Cook. in order to enhance creativity as a special. we can also observe a lot of creative improvised target language use on a regular basis. Ultimately. Creativity is a fascinating phenomenon. flexible. flexible. unconventional. tasty meal (in the best education in the current age of competency-based case). aged ten. stretching her word knowledge to its limits. teachers should have the necessary know-how to design attractive learning Everyday cooking is a good example of creativity environments that can help nurture little ‘c’ oral with a little c. I remember competency and skill. who tried to ask for the rubbish task-driven. where is the dirty basket?’ increasingly self-regulated oral interaction in the she said in a shaky. So when we think of creativity as an and pay close attention to all kinds of little ‘c’ outstanding product or an expressive outcome. my grandparents live over me’. An equally remarkable example of little ‘c’ Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 73 . and and at potential threats to creativity in language this can result in a unique. making I would argue that this kind of improvised speaking mistakes. and not effective and efficient enough. creative. uncertain voice. very personal gift. or spontaneous communicative creativity in When we think of it in this way. breaking rules. underlining the pressing need for other things we do in daily life. However. In academia. 8 Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom Jürgen Kurtz Introduction communicative creativity and oral spontaneity in foreign language learning is this utterance by Lucy. this kind need to be able to create windows of opportunity for of creativity has been referred to as big ‘C’ creativity.

not as a co-operative endeavour. spontaneous seem to exacerbate this problem by placing primary interactional flexibility within a supportive. In ‘script-think’. often improvisational practice is by no means new. and their role many expectations on standards-based reforms. planning and improvisation. instruction in many EFL classrooms (SLA) and TEFL research. he spontaneously − from peripheral to central − in originally framed learning in schools in terms of an experimental. undesirable backwash effects. very mentality’ which in turn could contribute to a broad guidelines for orchestrating flexible. In sum. for successful learning attending to a particular approach or methodology. and ultimately. they have demonstration of knowledge and skills in centralised to be honest with themselves about their own level performance tests may eventually have some of English proficiency and. However. As a considerable body of In current international second language acquisition research shows. Berliner (2012) cautions against placing too question their individual beliefs about. Underhill and Maley (2012) and Underhill general. Imagination. little communicative space for learners to participate In his inaugural lecture at Göttingen University. Oral interaction in EFL classrooms learners. environment is a key to orchestrating lively and creativity and flexibility are chiefly viewed from fruitful EFL classroom interaction. discrete areas of language learning than on fostering mental agility. classroom learning atmosphere overshadowed instantaneous interaction in class. resourceful spontaneity and a commitment to lifelong foreign Fostering little ‘c’ oral creativity language learning. as already mentioned Johann Friedrich Herbart (1964) referred to this above. foreign predictability and unpredictability appears to be language instruction is all too often viewed in terms highly important for promoting creative and flexible of implementing a carefully structured curriculum. By analogy to the English word ‘suicide’. teacher-led ways. placing strong manner (Legutke and Thomas. through improvisational practice In order to avoid educational ‘script-think’ and. developing oral proficiency in the EFL classroom. that thinking of classroom instruction and interaction predominantly organised in terms of (teacher) in terms of a dynamic interplay of routine and initiation. on thinning down school curricula. language use and. More generally speaking. if they feel it is necessary. Sooner or later. measurable outcome primarily. actuating a fixed of learning and teaching in terms of disciplined lesson plan. current reform initiatives focus much more (2014) address this issue in terms of ‘expecting the on accelerating measurable individual progress in unexpected’ in class. (learner) response and (teacher) feedback novelty. 1999). and sequences (IRF). there is growing evidence is usually largely pre-planned and scripted. Looking at recent education reforms in the United ultimately. in contexts like these there is usually very fundamental issue as pedagogical tact or tactfulness. Moreover. it appears this restrictive perspective. experiential and improvised cultivating the voice of the learner. conceiving following a specific procedure. but not entirely scripted learning standards of competency and skill. and interacting in pre-arranged. around the globe Berliner (2012) warns against ‘creaticide by design’ in this context. However. in. on It is essential that they reflect upon their personal conceptualising education in terms of testing and repertoire of teaching strategies and techniques. reducing including the ways they use EFL or ESL textbooks education to competency-based instruction and the and materials in class. and teaching (van Lier. ultimately. they need to invest extra time to improve it. In many foreign language classrooms worldwide. by fear of failure and speaking inhibitions among 74 |  Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom . there is often very little room for learners to voice their own thoughts and ideas and. Last but not least. ‘creaticide by design’. communicative flexibility. teachers need to States. 2007). implemented in many countries in recent years promoting learner-centred. In his view. instructors might adopt a ‘teaching to the test They should then consider the following. emphasis on the ability to perform to fine-graded thoroughly planned. emphasis on teaching as theory-informed. creativity to be important that teachers distance themselves is typically thought of as an individual process from what Sawyer (2001) refers to as educational or product. Avoiding ‘creaticide by design’ experiment with the target language in meaningful in the EFL classroom contexts and ways. furthermore. quick- witted professional decision-making in the here-and- Current education reforms initiated and now of the classroom. Viewed from this perspective.

it is mistakes very hesitant to respond to questions related to which fuel learning. severely hinder learning because they undermine partly self-regulated classroom interaction within learners’ willingness to take risks and speak an error-tolerant. because simply because learners do not always learn what teaching a foreign language encompasses paying they are taught. including simple display questions. 2012. they should be welcomed of language or on the messages learners are as valuable learning opportunities. The overall focus is on promoting which are just within their reach (Underhill and experimental oral practice in carefully planned. In this way. Tolerance of error is usually low. attention to meaning (what do learners want to say?) Viewed from this perspective. In sometimes erroneous learner utterances are not to addition. specific goals and objectives to be attained they are intended to bring together two fundamental (Kirchhoff and Klippel. Rather. that is. Ultimately. setting. learners are from getting things right all the time. Viewing learners as deficient communicators who produce lots of errors when given the opportunity to speak freely is a highly Improvisations in the EFL classroom questionable instructional approach. Listening carefully to what learners say is of utmost conditions for learning to happen. obvious. and – in the actual importance to fostering learning. certainly not exclusively. and As communicative journeys into the unknown. but is complex and demanding. ■■ the predictability of everyday communicative Teaching needs to be approached in terms of a events and social scripts as well as behavioural ‘more-or-less logic’. disregarding the content of the message. it does not make sense to think of successful instruction in terms of an ‘either-or logic’. In consequence. unanticipated and vocabulary. as this Being tactful means acting mindfully with learners publication shows. After all. partially unpredictable situations in which learners are allowed and encouraged to get their individual Nevertheless. teachers can only set communicative framework. increasingly complex. goals and learners. the traditional improvisations offer EFL learners a carefully IRF pattern of interaction remains as an important designed communicative framework for context- part of promoting learning. primarily designed to promote productively in many different ways in the classroom. in order to promote oral proficiency in produce. tasks and activities between learners. teachers seem It is perfectly clear that teachers cannot and should to focus overmuch on forms. teachers frequently do not make it clear be viewed as an undesirable result of poor planning whether their focus of attention is on formal aspects in the first place. Thus. Rather. and respecting their dignity. aspects of natural face-to-face exchanges outside of the classroom: In general. Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 75 . stretching their entire communicative repertoire. This may sound teaching process – modify these settings flexibly. depending on the specific patterns and routines instructional contexts. if teachers react only to the linguistic mistakes and errors they In sum. 2014). but Scrivener. but not error-insensitive classroom spontaneously and freely. cues. with accurate and contextually appropriate language use meaningful questions. activating and questions and cues are those that facilitate learning. 2013). depending on the and culture-sensitive talk-in-interaction. but these should only be used when appropriate and necessary. Scrivener. This calls ■■ the unpredictability of spontaneous ideas for tact or intuitive tactfulness which cannot be and thematic shifts within a given socio- planned in advance. Making good use of improvisations is of course only one of many teaching options. especially on formal not be expected to fully anticipate what is going mistakes or errors in pronunciation. We do not learn trying to convey. the target language. Good both verbally and non-verbally. grammar and to happen in a lesson. what they did over the weekend. is not to be underestimated in this context. many classrooms around the globe. it is essential to create In the long run. In and improvisation are equally central to instruction. learners Improvisations are task-driven opportunities should be seen as increasingly successful and for flexible communicative interaction in the effective communicators who can participate classroom. spontaneous. the importance of IRF sequences ideas and messages across in many different ways. if confronted with ‘do-able demands’. fluent. lesson planning and form (how do they say it?) simultaneously. interactional routines like these can attractive environments for more adventurous.

improvisations are complex learning primarily on learners’ communicative problems activities that seek to combine experientially and target language deficits. If. it can serve as a fruitful basis for subsequent teacher-guided or teacher-supported whole-class or enactments. systematic error treatment and language work if necessary) Improvised action (focus on partly scripted and unscripted. and only if. Since nothing succeeds grounded learner action with teacher-guided like success. but it needs to be integrated in a way learning and learning awareness systematically. ultimately. However. rather communicative contributions have to go hand than a linear way. The following diagram sums in hand. in order to enhance target language neglected. enhancing and adjusting learners’ communicative reflection in a cyclical. conducted in the target language empowerment in the target language. complexity. followed by way. participatory group reflection. improvisation is approached and conducted this directed peer-to-peer communication. Here. that is not threatening the learners’ willingness improvisations consist of two parts: an to speak. spontaneous meaning-making and intention-reading in the target language) 76 |  Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom . accuracy and appropriateness) Reflection (focus on enriching and/or adjusting language and necessary world knowledge in terms of promoting culture-sensitive learning. teachers ought to avoid focusing All in all. reflections and. the reflective part of an improvisational framework for increasingly self. This does not mean that explicit error up the underlying instructional concept: treatment (attention to language form) is to be Form Form Form Meaning Meaning Meaning Meaning Next improvised action (focus on communicative interaction on a slightly higher level of target language fluency. as well.

situated dialogical framework that consists of: ■■ a brief opening sequence (a scripted opening part or lead-in intended to break the ice and to reduce speaking inhibitions among learners) ■■ an unscripted middle part with a few communicative cues or incentives that leave enough space for a wide range of spontaneous ideas. but. they Geared towards intermediate. they should be seen as flexible instructional frameworks or classroom scenarios that need to be ‘brought to life’ by adapting them to the specific social and cultural contexts in which teachers wish to use them. Rather. they should not be approached and misinterpreted as rigid procedural scripts or recipes for instruction. (imagined) location. number of participants involved. in principle. last throughout the whole instructional process. They vary in terms of on the stage’) to facilitator (‘the guide on the side’). range from A1/A2 (beginning) to B2/C1 (upper- and more advanced learners. based on prior knowledge and skill ■■ in contrast to the traditional role plays of the early 1970s. Roughly arranged in terms of required/targeted proficiency level A few sample improvisations (as outlined in the Common European Framework for Languages. In general. upper-intermediate. a communicative ‘emergency exit’ sequence (a scripted final part with which the improvised dialogue can be brought to an end once the participants feel that they cannot or do not want to go any further). but not least. see: Council of Europe 2011). but due to the highly contextualised as well as to the special communicative goals and nature of the research project in which they were objectives sought to be attained. creative demand. Each of the exemplary improvisations outlined below is designed to provide learners with a flexible. developed and evaluated in Germany. ranging from role model (‘the sage communicative encounters. Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 77 . The complex architecture of an improvisation The suggested situational contexts bear requires teachers to adopt different roles in the resemblance to real-world settings and EFL classroom. good communicative timing is essential level of thematic and linguistic challenge. and. the interactional intermediate and advanced). interpretations and learner-learner exchanges. formats presented in the following were examined teachers can adapt each of the suggested activities thoroughly in terms of goal-specific design and to the specific needs and interests of their learners potential effects.

Take care. 78 |  Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom . memorised through repeated practice). contextualised and practised in advance). L2: Me too! I bet there’s a lot to see and learn. Materials ■■ You can download materials about London Zoo from: www. The learners’ roles need to be defined or negotiated beforehand. L2: I hope they have lions and tigers. London Zoo. UK Level ■■ Beginning EFL learners. What do they eat? I’d like to be a junior zoo keeper for a day. London. L1: I’m so excited about our school visit to the London Zoo next week. L1: Well. What animals do you hope to see there? Do you think we can touch and stroke the tiger cubs? I’d love to feed the [monkeys] and [giraffes]. L1: My mum says the zoo has over 700 different kinds of animals. proficiency levels A1/A2. I’m late already. Preparation This is for a group of two Procedure ■■ Opening sequence (scripted and needs to be introduced. See you tomorrow? L2: See you tomorrow. too. but I don’t have a camera … ■■ Exit sequence (scripted. I’ve got to go home now. based on communicative cues drawn from a box). My favourite animals are [elephants] … What do you think the Friendly Spider Programme is all about? I would like to take some pictures. ■■ Middle sequence (unscripted and spontaneous. OK then.zsl. Regent’s Park.

L4: Too many surfers. Materials Recommended internet search for: ‘dog sitters San Diego’. She’s just coming back from walking Pluto. Dogs are definitely not permitted. California. there’s Mrs Miller from next door. La Jolla Shores. Murphy jumps up on every person he meets. Nice waves over there. What about La Jolla Shores? L1: Cool. memorised through repeated practice). L3: That’s not necessary. L2: Great idea! Where to? L3: Del Mar beach is nice. proficiency levels A2/B1. Let’s ask her if she can take Murphy tomorrow. USA Level ■■ Intermediate EFL learners. clean ears. ■■ Middle sequence (unscripted and spontaneous. while we are on the beach. He is such a nice dog. Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 79 . air-conditioning on. but lots of tourists. Arrange for a dog sitter (quite expensive).). based on communicative cues drawn from a box). Let’s ask Mom or Dad if we can take him with us. Preparation This is a group activity for up to four learners. Drop Murphy off for dog day-care (trim nails. Oh look. The weather report says it’s going to be very sunny and warm. ‘The Original Dog Beach San Diego’. The learners’ roles need to be defined or negotiated beforehand. one-day dog training. L2: Can I take Murphy with me? L4: I don’t know. etc. I love it. San Diego. L2: So what do I do with Murphy? I can’t leave him alone at home all day. Why not? Give him a bone and leave him in the dog kennel in the garden. ■■ Exit sequence (scripted. L1: Let’s go to the beach tomorrow. needs to be contextualised and practised in advance). shampoo fur. ‘dog day-care centers San Diego’. ‘dog training San Diego’. We were there a few weeks ago. Procedure ■■ Opening sequence (scripted. Leave Murphy in the car. If we get up early we should find plenty of space for all of us. Find a nice dog beach in the area.

You just missed it. V: Thank you. Does Worldwide Bank still have an office on Flemington? 80 |  Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom . proficiency levels B1/B2. I have only just arrived and … V: I’m a travel writer and I’m looking for some genuine Aussie food … V: I’m just visiting family. to be contextualised and practised in advance. and www. Glen Huntly Road. V: Where do they go from? R: Well. what about the other one you mentioned? R: The 64? It doesn’t stop here. R: OK. V = visitor. Flinders Street you want a 19 or a 64. I’m trying to find [a job. Are you new in town or just visiting? ■■ Middle sequence (unscripted and spontaneous. Do you know if I can use cash to pay for the tram? V: I won’t be staying long. I’m new here.vic. The 19 runs every ten minutes. Walk up to Bourke Street right around the corner. Preparation This is a pair-work activity for two learners in role. Victoria. but for Flemington you must change to the 59 at Elizabeth Street.vic. V: Excuse me – is this the tram to catch to Flemington Road? R: Procedure ■■ Opening sequence (scripted. love …] V: I’m a professional photographer travelling around the world … V: I’m just staying a few days. based on communicative cues drawn from a box). the 19 stops right here. R = resident). V: I’m a backpacker from but I think I better wait for the 19 right here. Materials ■■ You can find visuals and other context-related materials at: http://ptv. but they don’t know I’m coming … V: Yes. Australia Level ■■ Intermediate to upper-intermediate EFL learners. The learners’ roles need to be defined or negotiated beforehand. V: OK.

Nova Scotia. These must have been very difficult times. Preparation This is a pair work activity for two learners in role. forcing people to leave their country. and a home they might never see again. memorised through repeated practice). R: No worries. L2 [name. Pier 21 National Immigration Museum. Bye. Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 81 . this woman writes. Take a look at this poster. Materials ■■ You can download context related materials from: www. ■■ Middle sequence (unscripted and spontaneous. Canada Level ■■ Upper-intermediate to advanced. V: Many thanks again. the tram behind this one is a 37. hands and arms gesturing wildly as they tried to make themselves understood’.ca Procedure ■■ Opening sequence (scripted. everything they knew. their loved ones. to be contextualised and practised in advance). Either: R: This is my tram. Nice talking to you. The learners’ roles need to be defined or negotiated beforehand. Sorry. but it was impossible to stay’. real or imaginary]. ■■ Exit sequence (scripted. L1: What a great exhibit. R: No worries.pier21. It says ‘It was hard to leave our friends. Halifax. Enjoy your stay. I got to hop on now. Or: V: Look. based on communicative cues drawn from a box). Thank you very much again. Nice talking to you. L2: Waiting here to be let in must have been equally difficult: ‘People were talking in different languages.

What about Germany today? ■■ Exit sequence (scripted. you could go. Where would you go to live? In one of the big cities. What would make you leave Germany forever? [push and pull factors?] Canada is a huge country. 82 |  Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom . if you really wanted to. speaking our language. Let’s find out more about immigration to Canada today and talk about all this later again.’ What languages do you speak? Just imagine we were forced to emigrate. but the good thing is. perhaps? How do you think immigration has shaped Canada? Many people say that Canada is a nation of immigrants. or food for chickens. were on hand to ease complete strangers through the formalities of officialdom. What do you think of this? This poster is about language problems: ‘How grateful we were for those kind souls who. memorised through repeated practice). Because of this. some felt unwelcome. This person says they were given cornflakes to eat when they came here. L2: Yes. They believed the idea of eating corn was ridiculous – to them it was cattle feed. L1: I’m so glad that I’m not forced to emigrate and leave everything behind.

A (eds) Classroom-Oriented Research: Achievements and Challenges. focuses on the role of improvisation and creativity Teaching. His current research Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning. unpredictability as essential parts of everyday classroom interaction. Council of Europe. A and Scrivener. As case-study research carried out in various EFL classrooms in Germany indicates (Kurtz. Structure and Empowering foreign language learners to Improvisation in Creative Teaching. patience. L van (2007) Action-based teaching. University (JLU) Giessen. Scrivener. [Lectures on Pedagogy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. creativity will only flourish if teachers Underhill. Halifax. on online at: www.coe. Legutke.wordpress. Available in enhancing oral proficiency in EFL EFL textbook analysis.J. and Framework_EN. explicitly correcting learners while they are trying to N. if teachers offer York: Longman. in this chapter are intended to function as stepping stones towards establishing a learning culture in Underhill. Kirchhoff. taught at the University of Dortmund (TU). and. learners are more likely to participate actively. A Discussion about re-inventing our profession. as it emerges. and Conceptions of What It Means to Be Smart in the US Schools: Creaticide by Design’. London/New creatively and autonomously. J (2014) Demand-high Teaching. Cambridge: communicate increasingly freely takes time and Cambridge University Press. P and Klippel. He previously New York: Routledge.pdf on culture-sensitive foreign language education. get a message across will almost certainly reduce Sawyer. tactfully.: Hampton. TEFL 3/2. communicative risks. com/ Berliner. Jürgen Kurtz is Professor of English/Teaching in Ambrose D and Sternberg. Cresskill. Interrupting and Improvisation in Everyday Discourse. Ultimately. at Karlsruhe University of Education. Conclusion Kurtz. JK]. Assessment. English Teaching Professional 82: 4–7. RJ (eds) How Dogmatic English as a Foreign Language at Justus Liebig Beliefs Harm Creativity and Higher-Level Thinking. Innovation in Language Learning and furthermore. Berlin: Springer. appealing communicative scenarios or frameworks Lier. Assessments. less The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and scripted and less teacher-dominated. Fostering and building upon oral creativity in the EFL classroom  | 83 . D (2012) ‘Narrowing Curriculum. part of the overall learning process. The The exemplary improvisational activities presented European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL 3/2. RK (ed). J (1964) Vorlesungen über Pädagogik. J (2011) ‘Breaking through the communicative cocoon’. in Pawlak. Bielak. M and Thomas. R (2012) Explaining Creativity: The Science their willingness to improvise and take of Human Innovation. however. A (2014) Training for the unpredictable. J and Mystkowska-Wiertelak. J (2012) Demand high ELT. use and development. M. References Available online at: http://demandhighelt. H (1999) Process and 2011). R (2001) Creating Conversations. orchestrate oral classroom interaction Teaching 1: 46–65. and at Saint Mary’s Council of Europe (2011) Common European University. Experience in the Language Classroom. A (2012) Expect the break old patterns and embrace spontaneity and unexpected. Underhill. and identity. Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer. Germany. F (2013) ‘On the role of teacher questions in EFL classrooms: Analyzing lesson videos’. This entails being prepared for and accepting errors and mistakes as a natural Sawyer. the EFL classroom which is less mechanical. A and Maley. in Sawyer. Herbart. Canada. autonomy for partly self-directed target language use.

g. Armstrong. In fact. Gardner.’ e. creativity of learners. 84 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . Multiple intelligence or device. solve problems From our perspective. 1999). understanding features of We begin by summarising some information the natural world about Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. working Being in tune with nature. to think in musical patterns. we do not think that creativity ■■ visual-spatial intelligence should be limited to ‘a new method or device. creativity can also involve ■■ musical-rhythmic intelligence using existing materials in novel ways to address The ability to perform musically or to compose problems in language teaching. 2000. 9 Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively Kathleen M Bailey and Anita Krishnan Introduction Brief background The editors of this volume shared with us the The concept of multiple intelligences has been following definition of creativity: ‘the ability to used widely in general education. the ability to work strategies that English language teachers use to well with other people.’ Indeed. generate creative new solutions to problems. with teachers working in several different countries and exhibiting logical reasoning skills around the world. We describe creative activities and ■■ naturalist intelligence tools that these teachers have developed. ■■ interpersonal intelligence We use that framework to explore several low-cost Sensitivity towards others.’ They theory. it has been applied in language education as well whether a new solution to a problem. 1983. and in recent years produce something new from imaginative skill. and the developing of their skills in developing the The theory posits eight types of intelligence (see. 2005). in living things. understand others. and that these broadly as the developing of creativity in teachers. We ■■ logical-mathematical intelligence gathered these ideas from email correspondence Using numbers.’ ■■ verbal-linguistic intelligence This chapter documents a number of creative uses The use of language. intelligences influence the ways in which we learn. understanding personal and users of English. the possibility or idea. we agree music. write. being interested entirely with free or very inexpensive materials. or a new artistic object or form. 1999. we may see this various kinds of intelligence. of images and objects by English language teachers or talk to others who have worked in under-resourced areas. and acting according to this knowledge (Gardner. understanding patterns. 1983. or a The ability to create visual images of a project new artistic object or form. and to act on such visualisation that creativity can be manifested in ‘a new solution ■■ bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence to a problem’ is the aspect of creativity which is Using one’s own body for expression or to most closely related to the daily work of teachers. wants and abilities. a new method (Puchta and Rinvolucri. We and assume leadership roles will provide examples of how teachers have helped ■■ intrapersonal intelligence to prepare their own students to be creative learners Being self-aware. or to see and with Andreasen (2014) that ‘the essence of creativity hear musical patterns and manipulate them is making connections and solving puzzles. 2011): But as teachers. the ability to read. in essence. is the idea that everyone has also note ‘as applied to education.

these kinds of intelligences can draw upon students’ existing strengths. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 85 . We believe that while learners may have varying levels of ability in the different intelligences. who claimed that people possess all of the multiple intelligences and that these intelligences can work together to promote learning. While it can be assumed that most activities in language classes involve verbal-linguistic intelligence. Teachers who are aware of. and intentionally work with. teachers can help learners develop their other intelligences as well. In this chapter. in order to enhance learning. most people have the potential to develop each one further. several of the creative ideas teachers shared with us exemplify activities or resources that cater to various intelligences. Driscoll and Nagel (2010) cite the work of Armstrong (2000).

and have students from the different classes exchange postcards like pen-pals. with elements of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligences. a group. you can adapt the activity so that students have to write their own original texts rather than copying them from brochures. Materials Paper. Variation If you are working with more proficient learners. Much of their creativity involved generating innovative solutions to problems. colour pencils/markers. 86 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . Procedure ■■ Have your students read the brochure information about the local area and copy down different parts of the text. Intelligence Visual-spatial. and tourism brochures (or other sources of information about the local area). lower-level learners. Name placards By Kait Decker Level Secondary school students. Creating postcards By Kait Decker Level Secondary school students. To give the activity a real-life context. ■■ Ask them to each create a postcard with the information by drawing a picture to accompany the written text. Practical suggestions from teachers In this section we will share several creative ideas we gathered from experienced English language teachers who have worked in under-resourced contexts around the world. particularly the problem of having limited materials. you can also match your class with another English class (either from your school or another school). The teachers gave us permission to share their ideas in this chapter. Materials Paper and colour pencils/markers. or with the whole class. Intelligences Visual-spatial and verbal-linguistic intelligences. ■■ Have students share their postcards either with a partner. verbal-linguistic and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligences.

paired students sit side-by-side facing opposite directions. two smaller squares for windows. In this seating arrangement. Variation Once students are creating and describing their own images in partners (steps four and five). pencil. a rectangle for the door. marker). the variation adds an interpersonal element. pen. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 87 . and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligences.g. you can vary this activity by using ‘tango seating’. and to listen closely to their partners’ descriptions. ■■ Have students present their placards to their classmates by describing their drawings and sharing information about themselves. ■■ Ask students to draw their own simple figure using similar geometric forms. ■■ Encourage students to be as creative as possible with both the writing and illustrating steps. Tango seating is a useful variation because when the two learners can neither see each other nor see the original drawing. ■■ Describe the image to your students and ask them to listen to your directions and to attempt to recreate the image. they are forced to express themselves verbally. Materials Paper and a writing instrument (e. Procedure ■■ Ask your students to make signs with their names on them. a house consisting of a large square. Variation Instead of drawing. Procedure ■■ Draw an image constructed of simple geometric shapes (e. to produce the target language. ■■ Instruct students to illustrate the signs with drawings that represent information about themselves. a triangle for the roof). Guided drawing By Kait Decker Level Secondary school students/adults. Intelligence Visual-spatial. students can cut out and paste images from magazines or brochures on their name placards. ■■ Show students the original drawing and ask them to compare the pictures they have created with it.g. so that their right shoulders are nearly touching. ■■ Put students into pairs and have them take turns describing to their classmate how to draw their particular image. verbal-linguistic.

g. colour pencils/markers and grocery store flyers. Grocery store flyers By Kait Decker Level Secondary school students. Procedure ■■ Ask your students to look through grocery store flyers and to cut out pictures of food items. Other kinds of two-dimensional images that can be used creatively in language teaching include maps. glue. mind maps. scissors. fruit). Guess the item By Keri-Ann Moore Level Beginner level. For instance. meat. dairy products. and to write the names decoratively on their flyers. to practise mathematical functions and numbers. for vocabulary practice (the names of foods). Variations Students can use these flyers to enact role plays in English in which some students play the role of shopkeeper while others act as customers. None of these activities require expensive materials. ■■ Ask your students to invent original names for their stores. grammar and pronunciation lessons. timelines. Household items or available school supplies (pencils. students can draw timelines representing important events in their own lives or the history of their country. ■■ Have them paste the cut-out pictures on a sheet of paper. scissors. Materials Paper (construction paper. as illustrated below. You can allow students to arrange the images into categories if they wish (e. etc. For example. to teach common phrases used while grocery shopping. 88 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . ■■ Instruct students to make up their own prices for each item. when available). Intelligence Bodily-kinaesthetic. paperclips. and interpersonal intelligences. students can create their own graphic organisers. mathematical-logical. The materials created from this activity help students engage in target language practice and can be used to focus on different features of English. Simple objects can also be used productively in language lessons to activate students’ various intelligences. you can use this activity to draw students’ attention to grammar points (e. These timelines can be illustrated with drawings or photographs or cut-outs from old magazines. In addition to working with existing resources like these.) can be used creatively to generate language practice for vocabulary. vegetables.g. count and non-count nouns). charts and graphs. including children. verbal-linguistic.

students can mark tongue placement on a vowel chart instead of describing the tongue movements verbally. keys or spoons. and visual-spatial intelligences. Intelligence Bodily-kinaesthetic and verbal-linguistic intelligences. Variation You can fill the box with rocks. Procedure ■■ Have the students say words with different vowel sounds while the lollipops are in their mouths. brushes. leaves. ■■ Show your students the contents of the box once again and ask them to guess the missing item. verbal-linguistic. ■■ Let the students lead the activity by giving each one a turn to remove an item and having the other students guess the missing item. For example. shells. This simple game focuses the students’ attention and provides an engaging way to reinforce vocabulary learning. If lollipops are not available. Items should be selected based on the target vocabulary aims you have for your students. these items could include familiar foods such as fruits or vegetables. Procedure ■■ Collect several items and place them in the box. Materials A box (or any kind of large container). ■■ Have the students describe the tongue movement involved in producing each vowel. the variation may activate naturalist intelligence. you can use spoons or tongue depressors. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 89 . or other common items like combs. Variations For lower-level learners. twigs. Show your students all of the items before turning away from them to remove one item from the box. Materials Flat lollipops. Intelligence Bodily-kinaesthetic. and several household items or school supplies that are available locally. one per student. Pronunciation awareness raising By Aya Matsuda Level This procedure is probably best used with teenagers and adults rather than children. pencils. feathers and other natural items from the surrounding environment. The use of lollipops in this activity helps learners understand the somewhat abstract concept of tongue placement in English production in a more concrete and physical way.

prepositions and directions. verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. Total physical response (TPR) with paper shapes By Kathi Bailey Level Any age. circles. Procedure ■■ Cut out basic geometric shapes (squares. teachers can use any materials that are locally available for this activity. from the silent way method. scissors. depending on the level of students. is also an option for teachers who have access to them. any level. Using Cuisenaire rods. bodily-kinaesthetic.’ These TPR activities provide good practice with numbers. Intelligence Visual-spatial. In addition. Put the large green triangle under the small red circle. such as leaves. Materials Colour paper. rectangles) of varying sizes from the colour paper. which can facilitate learning and memory of the target language. Put the two between the seven and the three. variations require building blocks or several sets of playing cards.) Variations You can do a similar activity using either a set of building blocks or by stacking playing cards in a particular sequence. you can use local objects. In fact. Put the seven to the right of the three. start by giving each student just one suit (such as clubs). students get listening practice while simultaneously handling objects. If colour paper is not readily available. If you use playing cards. promoting communicative language use and evoking a range of intelligences in language learners. The following games all use inexpensive or free items in a fun and engaging way. 90 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . ■■ Give your students instructions like these: ‘Put the small red circle on top of the large blue square. seedpods or shells. ■■ Distribute a set of shapes to each student. for example. you can substitute plain white paper by simply eliminating the colour from the commands. you can give commands such as ‘Put the three on the desk. Games are yet another creative way to engage learners in memorable and motivational activities in the language classroom.’ (You can make your instructions as simple or complicated as you would like. If there are desks or tables. If paper is not an available resource. triangles.

(You can hide it behind a book or cardboard folder. The first team to correctly recreate the teacher’s original structure wins the game. ■■ The communicators instruct the builders how to recreate the structures. the builder is charged with recreating the hidden structure from second-hand directions alone. noting down the language and communication strategies used by their teammates. interpersonal and logical- mathematical intelligences. verbal-linguistic. By adding in a co-operative-competitive element. Variations If the builder has questions for the communicator. ■■ Assign each team an observer. a communicator and a builder. ■■ Explain the roles to your students: the observer watches the entire process of the game and takes notes on the language being used. based on the varied nature of each role. without having seen the structure themselves. or if they only have one chance to deliver the information.) ■■ The watchers observe the original structure being built. bodily-kinaesthetic. Procedure ■■ Divide your students into groups of four. Fluency relay also requires learners to produce different kinds of language in the classroom. the teams get to see the original structure that you built and discuss why their structure may differ from the model. ■■ The watchers describe the structure to the communicators. while simultaneously increasing their language awareness. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 91 . but cannot speak until the game is over. the simple activity becomes more fun and challenging. or simply build it while facing away from your students. the builder must attempt to recreate the teacher’s structure from the information they have received. the communicator hears the watcher’s description of the structure and tells it to the builder. This game is a more complex variation of the previous TPR activity. (Note: throughout steps five to eight. it is up to the teacher to decide whether the students can speak to each other multiple times for clarification. the observers are watching and listening to the entire process. as their goal is to replicate what the teacher has built by communicating with each other about the structure. a watcher.) ■■ When the game is over. Materials This game is most effectively played with building blocks. ■■ Build a structure out of blocks or arrange the playing cards in a particular pattern and only allow the watchers to see the structure. The student teams must all have the same set of blocks as the teacher. ■■ Following the communicator’s instructions. Intelligence Visual-spatial. but playing cards can be used if blocks are not available. Fluency relay By Doug Brown Level Most effective with teenagers and adults. the watcher sees the teacher’s original structure as it is being built and relays the information to the communicator.

visual-spatial. ■■ Have each student select an individual marker (any small item that is locally available. ■■ In their groups. mathematical-logical intelligence. interpersonal intelligences. e. Personal event timeline By Christina Baldarelli Level Adults/teenagers. students must write two true statements and one false one. appropriate for all levels. or require the student who had the previous turn to ask a question to the student who’s just told a story. ■■ Divide the class into groups of three to five students each. Materials Strips of paper and pairs of dice. bodily-kinaesthetic. ask students to arrange the slips of paper chronologically on a flat surface.g. I still have yet to find a student who hasn’t been engaged by it. Variations Include a specific grammar focus (e. ■■ The student who wrote the chosen date and event is then required to speak for approximately one minute. and to a certain extent. and in repeating it for various classes in the years since. Christina felt that this added twist required the students to listen very carefully so they could decide which statement was false. Intelligence Verbal-linguistic. Christina shared the following comment: ‘This activity struck me as so fundamentally accessible for any student. instructing them to write the following two things on each one: a) the date of a significant event in their lives.g. b) a sentence describing the event. a shell or a rock) as their playing piece. These kinds of small group activities are very effective in large classroom settings because they allow for all students to be engaged at the same time. Procedure ■■ Give each learner three slips of paper. A creative variation of this game is based on the ice-breaker ‘two truths and a lie’. ■■ One person in every group rolls the dice and moves their marker to the corresponding slip of paper.’ 92 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . In this version. past tense). reading the date and event aloud. describing the event and why it is significant to them.

It often had several copies of National Geographic. suitable for all levels. ■■ In a relay style. Materials Cut-up bits of paper. This is particularly the case for students whose first language spelling system closely matches the sound system of that language. Christina wrote. ‘Since there were not many other resources available. Fortunately. ■■ Put the cut-up letters of each word into different cups (each word gets its own cup). as their ability to spell English words may be scaffolded by seeing the cut-up letters. I tried to make use of these in any way possible to break up the monotony of our mandated textbooks (or sometimes lack thereof!). spelling in English can be very challenging. paper or plastic cups. verbal-linguistic and interpersonal intelligences. Intelligence Visual-spatial. a long table or flat surface. They could even challenge the other team to make up sentences using particular vocabulary items. she had very limited access to teaching materials. ■■ Divide students into two teams. ■■ Once a student has correctly arranged the letters. The first team to finish wins the game.’ The following activity is based on this context. then arranging the letters to form the vocabulary word. (Note: Students flip cups by placing them on the edge of the table and using their fingers to toss the cup up so that it lands upside-down on the table). This game allows students who are not normally good at English spelling an opportunity to succeed. Procedure ■■ Write new vocabulary words on strips of paper. the US Embassy sponsored an ‘American corner’ in the local library with a shelf that offered simple free materials for teachers to use. the next student on the team can begin their turn. Vocabulary flip cup By Jeramie Heflin Level Teenagers/adults. ■■ Cut up the words into individual letters. the students compete against each other by trying to flip the cup over. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 93 . ■■ Line up the cups on opposite sides of the table. As English does not always have a strong phoneme-grapheme correspondence. When Christina Baldarelli was teaching in Kazakhstan. Variations This spelling game could also be expanded to having the students use the vocabulary in sentences. bodily-kinaesthetic.

she commented.) ■■ Ask students to write three sentences describing the physical appearance of the person in the photo.’ Christina’s lack of materials is a situation commonly faced by teachers working in under-resourced areas. variations make the activity suitable for any level. Regarding the creative variations. which they believed to be the source 94 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . ■■ Have students return to the photo that they started with and read the description to confirm whether it was the one they had written originally. paper. depending on whether the matches were correct or incorrect. by asking students to: –– generate three sentences describing the people in the pictures without using any colours –– make predictions about the photos –– write a haiku poem from the perspective of the person in the photo –– speculate about the people in the photo. ‘As the task became more abstract. Christina found that her students engaged in interesting discussions after matching the photos with their descriptions. Variations For higher-level learners. global or personal. ■■ Instruct students to post the description alongside the appropriate photo on the wall. scissors. some of the people in the photos evolved into characters in the students’ creative writing projects. the students showed creativity and stretched the assignment to connect with the issues that meant something to them. Intelligence Visual-spatial. For example. you can creatively adapt this activity in a number of ways. Procedure ■■ Give each student a photo of a single person performing some kind of action. verbal-linguistic and interpersonal intelligences. whether political. redistribute them and ask students to read the description they were given and to identify which photo matches the description. Christina shared that the reaction of teachers in her department was rather surprising: ‘My local colleagues were always keen to borrow the books I had lent their students. (You can either cut these out ahead of time or instruct students to find their own photos and cut them out during class. asking them what challenges the person may face and what might contribute to these challenges. Her use of photographs from old magazines influenced the culture of her school and attracted the attention of other teachers. Narrating photos By Christina Baldarelli Level Low-level learners. In the original activity. ■■ Collect all of the photos and post them in the front of the room. tape. Materials Old magazines with photos (National Geographic works well). ■■ Collect all of the students’ descriptions. The students began to use what they had done in her course in their other classes.

Procedure ■■ To create their whiteboards. By enabling students to respond individually. damp cloth/paper towel or whiteboard erasers. verbal-linguistic. Teachers in under-resourced areas have also come up with numerous creative ways to solve problems. Materials White paper. In addition. For instance. They were always disappointed that the only materials I had to share were my tattered photos. Sarah Hoch asked students to respond to a listening prompt by drawing a picture or writing a word or a sentence. the use of mini- whiteboards allows each student to engage with the task at hand to the best of their abilities. visual-spatial and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligences.’ Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 95 . Keri-Ann commented. Intelligence Intrapersonal. ‘Sometimes I ask a question and have each student write it and display their board so that I can know that each student is understanding. Some of these solutions have resulted in inexpensive tools that can be used and re-used in language lessons. instruct your students to insert a plain piece of paper into a plastic page-protector. teachers can also use mini-whiteboards for assessment purposes by monitoring students’ answers in class and using them to gauge the individual progress of many students at once. who co-operate better in class if they are engaged in activities that involve competition rather than grammar exercises. and illustrates how visual images can be used in a variety of ways to promote language learning and target language use. washable markers. of the characters that were surfacing in assignments or stories in their own classes.’ Christina’s story demonstrates both her own and her students’ creativity. Mini-whiteboards By Sarah Hoch and Keri-Ann Moore Level Any age/any level. plastic page-protectors.’ There is no limit to how teachers can use these mini-whiteboards in their classrooms. They may have been a bit suspicious that I had a cache of special literature somewhere that I was keeping secret and lending out to my favourite students. She noted that these mini-whiteboards ‘are especially useful for teenagers. Variations Mini-whiteboards are creative. It also helps me as a teacher because I’m easily able to see when a majority of the class is not understanding something. ■■ Students can write on the whiteboards with the washable markers and use a damp towel or whiteboard eraser to erase the writing. inexpensive and versatile learning tools that are particularly effective in large classes.

As many of these activities encourage group work. and in the experience of the teachers of creative activities that teachers in under- who so graciously shared their ideas with us. Innsbruck. Austria: Helbling Languages. NY: Basic Books. In the words of Mary Ann solve problems creatively. activities activate and may even develop students’ only provide a glimpse into the many ways teachers various intelligences. Other creative writing activities for com/reference/article/eight-intelligences/ language learners include writing autobiographies. Countless activities. multiple intelligences (second edition). For example. Christina Baldarelli’s use of haiku poems illustrates. second language learners. limited materials. goal. Learners who are more dramatically inclined can be Christison. New York. ‘Intelligences environment. H (1983) Frames of mind: The theory of poetry. N (2010) The eight and assess their students’ production of the target intelligences. M (1995–96) Multiple intelligences and asked to create skits. biographies. language learning which allows students to tap into several kinds activities may be successful because they actively of intelligence at once. H (1999) Intelligence reframed. and Nagel. using simple images or Christison.theatlantic. H and Rinvolucri. New York. NY: Basic Books. However. as the activities and creates contexts that facilitate language clearly show. NY: Penguin. N (2014) Secrets of the creative brain. wine into old bottles. Gardner. Puchta. music can be introduced into the The Atlantic. Conclusion Some readers may feel that the activities described above are simply ‘fun and games’. because doing so would break We believe that engaging learners in language the bottles. We have flipped the saying around in our practice that is simultaneously challenging and title to suggest that old or commonplace materials rewarding leads to communicative interaction can indeed be used in novel ways. there resourced areas have shared with us. television shows. M (2005) Multiple Intelligences in EFL. draw pictures to illustrate songs or act creative-brain/372299/ out different songs. we have described several examples experience. within a realistic social context. T (2000) In their own way: Discovering stimulate musical-rhythmic intelligence as well as and encouraging your child’s multiple intelligences. Available online at: www. several of the other intelligences discussed above. short stories. improvisations and role plays. As Imagination in Language Learning 3: 8–13. acquisition. A. These activities would obviously Armstrong. large classes) which we have not discussed in this chapter. There are many creative solutions to ongoing problems (e. Available online at: www. and radio or multiple intelligences. language. 96 |  Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively . develop their communication and language skills NY: Basic Books. H (2011) Frames of mind: The theory of interpersonal intelligence. classroom by having students write and sing their com/features/archive/2014/06/secrets-of-the- own songs. thus engaging their Gardner. tools and games work together in complex ways. New York. Crafting References activities around the arts is one way to achieve this they allow students to Gardner. Because no can be adapted to promote language learning. The Journal of the or to write and perform their own original plays. encourage the use of several intelligences’ (1995–96: 10). objects and interactive the New Testament advises people not to put new games creatively in the language classroom. A parable in is a point to using images. intelligence exists by itself. a recognised expert on multiple objects that are readily available in their local intelligences and language learning. however. we believe that these The suggestions we have described here. in our In this chapter. creative writing is another way for teachers to elicit Driscoll. In addition. New York.

from New York University. where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years. She holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications. She now works at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. The International Research Foundation for English Language Education. pursuing a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). language assessment. In 2008. and in rural Paraguay. California. where she teaches graduate courses in language assessment. Dr Kathleen M Bailey received her MA in TESL and her PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of California at Los Angeles. Her research interests include teacher development and supervision. She has since taught English in various contexts in New York City. Anita earned an ESL teaching certificate through a year-long programme at The New School. research methods and language teacher education. and the Vice President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. with a minor in Linguistics. Old wine in new bottles: solving language teaching problems creatively  | 97 . classroom research and the teaching of speaking. She served as the President of TESOL from 1998 to 1999 and is the President of TIRF. Anita Krishnan is currently a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

developed. Increasingly. Every single sentence. management. flexibility and we always have to be aware of the point of view and advanced communication skills in the current we take in defining creativity. creativity. every expressed or communicated idea can provoke many different Such significant changes in roles require higher reactions. build their lessons on topics types of schools for all levels of language learners. universities and their This approach focuses on the idea that we all can language centres across the world adopt new enjoy the potential to be creative under certain pedagogies. First. that we all abound with many different styles. learners’ contributions to language classes. Czech Republic. Language also be used by teachers and teacher trainers in all teachers can. and these areas we say or write is created in a unique moment of have become the focus of recent research at communication and can be recreated. which from many different perspectives. These social to language teaching is an approach that presents and cultural changes influence all sectors of society creativity as one of our many innate skills. Similarly. encourage and appreciate students’ contributions to language classes Libor Stepanek Introduction Theoretical background This chapter offers a practical insight into a Creativity is a complex field studied and discussed creative approach to language teaching. can be more easily established. 98 |  A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions . a talent and have an enormous impact on the area of that every person and every language learner has. This is one of the has been developed as a reaction to recent changes reasons why there is no generally accepted definition in. advisers and facilitators of can express or communicate one idea in many those learning processes. language teachers tend to be less and less seen as authoritative ‘truth-tellers’. Increasingly. where students and teachers share language learners bring with them. language is creative by its very nature. can help stimulate creativity in students. We they become guides. methodologies and educational conditions. A creative approach knowledge and communication society. Furthermore. Language learners tend teacher’s task to stimulate the creative potential to be less and less seen as mere objects of teaching. related to sport. the roles of both teachers and learners forms and levels of creativity and that it is the are beginning to change. This paraphrased or changed according to the goals of chapter presents an approach which has been the speaker or writer. This is why a community-of- value the existing knowledge and the diverse skills practice setting. law or philosophy and Its main aim is to invite teachers to recognise and still focus on language. Masaryk University in Brno. and to encourage their individual types of expertise and knowledge. language classes are not limited by any is primarily used by university teachers but it could specialised subject or knowledge. phrase or word levels of flexibility and creativity. tested and successfully implemented at Masaryk University Language Centre. As schools. education. in students. different ways. they become active partners in Language teachers have three advantages that individualised and interactive learning processes. The approach Second. therefore. 10 A creative approach to language teaching: a way to recognise. reformulated. and the growing demand for.

even the setting of a situation It also allows teachers to show students some or instructions can require a certain level of possible barriers to creativity. surprised when students are not satisfied with their which is based on the idea that any student can choice. In creative situations. a creative approach to language teaching. we can use strategies of the language by exposing them to close-to-real-life negotiated syllabus method and ask them to find situations in a safe. while a peer- students have to produce one or more answers to review writing activity illustrates strategies that can a series of inter-connected problems. texts and activities for students. a series of activities and some individual online space assignments. for example. correct/incorrect situations in writing and give them they may not be sure if the problem has one solution. This activity can community of practice. And finally. Practical suggestions and activities We can show the principles by using the example The range of creative activities that have some of reading skills. some writing activities are applied almost automatically in order to achieve one presented. In order to minimise the danger of spending be creative when they are engaged in creative too much time on preparing materials our students situations. A ‘song’ task suggests how to introduce correct solution to a problem. search-based activities that focus on creative A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions  | 99 . shows students the complexity of a do not find engaging. The following section presents five examples consider both interesting and of high quality of successfully used practical tasks relevant to whole ■■ send samples of such texts to the course courses. Similarly. Then. rather they presented in order to show how learning can build face unclear situations with unclear and tentative on students’ existing knowledge and language skills. They do not help learners recognise the absence of absolutely know what steps can be used to solve a problem. and are sometimes To sum up. First. ‘incorrect’ solutions. make decisions. Since language usage represents a form of communication that can be used in near. look for close-to-reality situations in which students do not solutions and respond to authentic reactions from use well-known and practised steps that can be their peers. Student-generated sources reality situations can be created more easily than Teachers often believe it is their duty to choose in classes of chemistry or history. a vocabulary task is fail’ or ‘correct-incorrect’ solutions. ■■ read the text samples before the following session. solutions. We can ask students to: potential to enhance language learning is relatively ■■ explore their fields of interest and find texts they broad. flexible and dynamic environment useful materials and decide which activities they by means of a class of learners constituted as a would like to try on their own. an example of student-generated sources is given in order to offer a range of internet. improve students’ autonomy and cater for individual learning styles. interpretation. Students simply do not encounter do not expose students to situations with ‘wrong’ or clear-cut situations that can result only in ‘succeed. By creative situations we mean have to form opinions. language classes can easily engage students situations outside of the class in which students in creative situations. more confidence as authors. Third. a grammar a wide range of possible solutions or if it has any activity is put forward in order to illustrate cases that solution at all. writing from a different perspective. Sometimes.

In other words. on the other hand. This example combines of paper. most useful or funniest song (depending they have to create their own criteria for quality. webquests and music. issues. A ‘writing song’ activity Procedure Writing is a specific skill that some students ■■ Write a short piece of text (three to five sentences) enjoy and others do not. on the collected texts. we can choose to take control and writing. weird and ■■ compare their own texts with those of their embarrassing songs. In order to help them identify or to any other online space the group shares. Teachers do not have The activity can finish in class with a short discussion. who are afraid of it. or any other feature the class any search. they bring into class materials that are not appealing This style of work offers several advantages for to their students. make decisions. 100 |  A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions . a text with the highest can also bring diverse benefits to teachers who may level of past tense use. Each student different areas. to look for the ‘best’ material that would suit a When students have not found any material the particular group. or of what we have point in it. At this point. for the best. we have In this activity we ask students to: saved our time when looking for texts that could be interesting for the group. of a topic who hate writing. ■■ vote for the most interesting text. Both types are equally useful classmates and see what differences or for our purposes. the least Thanks to the flexibility of its outcomes. Teachers can also for example. or see no we have discussed in class. are instructions for more home activities. based a song about writing (e. In order to invite those on a given topic (a summary of a story. we can discuss briefly.and non-language- and spend more time being exposed to the topic of related skills at the same time. students previously unaware of English ■■ choose one text and paraphrase it in their writing style can get to know some basic rules and own words principles outside of the class in a way that allows ■■ identify the main ideas in each text them to accept writing more naturally. we can prepare activities that offer learned in the session. are engaged in situations with unclear solutions: they do not know whether they can find a suitable text. so they can make sure students watch/listen to most of the songs develop both their language. this activity understandable text. or they may avoid situations in which would like to focus on. how to write an essay rap). providers of ‘one ultimate truth’ and can become such as listening for the main idea or for details of facilitators of complex processes that form part of a particular song. What is more. and its goal is to find decide what activities we are going to do. Thanks to the song material they similarities they find have found. both teachers and students. Students. with widest range of obtain a database of interesting materials without vocabulary. more humorous and enjoyable ■■ discuss their internet search strategies perspective. This voting task can also serve just to also works in their own area of interest. of texts from their students. such as voting more actively engaged in the search for the texts. Songs sourced by other students allow students to see the world of ■■ identify the author’s position writing from a new.g. students writing in this way. for example) on a sheet different perspectives. and our task then ■■ go to the internet and look for songs that are is to find the appropriate sections of the collected related to writing in general or to any specific samples that can suit our teaching purposes best. area we want them to focus on Alternatively. we may proceed in different ways and ask The internet offers some great songs and an them to: enormous number of terrible. Instead they obtain a database teacher would like to use. they have to form their opinions. Peer review present their results to classmates and be ready This peer-review activity may help students practise to respond to their reactions. It can generate some in-class activities. and on what collection of songs we have compiled) or for they practise reading and critical thinking individually a song that offers the most relevant information in and intensively outside of the class. search skills or the quality of the songs move away from their traditional positions of collected. we can ask students to identify ■■ choose one or two songs and share them with the problematic issues or issues ‘of interest’ and follow others. writing in many different situations. Students can post links to a discussion forum their particular needs. or it can also continue with more language learning.

students situations and where they can apply only one normally do not watch their favourite films and strategy to solve the problem. They succeed or them that even videos and films of their choice fail. of their peers have showed them some new point This activity is also beneficial to teachers. They can of view. in the case of carefully (theoretically six to eight of them) and reported speech. autonomously. books or audio materials if they cannot come up with any improvements. They also learn However. book. videos. book and audio collections at home for similar repeatable and easily adaptable activities that can be examples of the grammar feature they have just presented as a simple exercise or a competition of seen or heard in your example. and at other Examples: The Hours film trailer for reported times we present it in relevant contexts. They are invited to work something which is correct and clear already. incorrect answer to this task – they can find exactly ■■ Return papers to the authors of the original texts. in tasks with instructions of the ‘choose the best sentence using the third conditional’ type) but to Real-life grammar make students spend some time thinking about and Grammar is too often related to rules and drill focusing on a particular grammar feature in their own exercises where students work in uncreative real-life preferred contexts. but a second conditional one.g. ‘will-would’ change but ‘do-did’ or ‘was-had been’. For example. we present it in class with no use in a film. relation to students’ existing knowledge. Moreover. of our students’ active vocabulary. which students send their papers in the same direction texts to choose or which audio materials to listen two or three more times doing the same activity to. The sometimes their classmates can find different points reason for the success of everybody is the fact that of view. and preferably in the area of their or they can correct a mistake if they spot one. and which they have not. similarly to speaking. pairs or groups. Similarly. or their film. and their answers videos focusing on grammar. or a section from The Curious Case of are not sure what students already know or how they Benjamin Button for third conditionals. work with materials generated by students. Then. They do with only one new rule – they cannot repeat the not know whether they can find such an example changes their classmates have already come up or not. use their vocabulary and we want to see the range ■■ Ask students to search the internet. and decide which films or videos to watch. possibility to engage students in creative situations in which they can always succeed. texts and ■■ Read their classmate’s text and suggest two audio materials by posting them (or their links) changes (we have to clearly explain that a ‘change’ to the course online space. the same example or a variation of a particular The original authors read the suggested changes grammar feature. they have to suggest new ones. there is no clear solution.) own interest. those who do not find any examples but that asking a classmate makes sense. in other words. They are also asked to think critically Students get some minutes for this step. they have worked with are equally successful. they may not find an example of decide whether they accept them or not. individuals. thanks to which the original authors can its actual goal is not to produce several sentences improve their texts on their own. When we speech. found in their favourite films. videos. ■■ Pass the papers with their texts to the person ■■ Ask students to share the samples they have sitting on their left (or right). or if the ideas conditional example. does not always mean ‘improvement’. because even show a list of films. This activity shows are either correct or incorrect. Sometimes. text or any audio material. In other words. which This activity makes students realise that writing is a saves their time and expands their database of part of language and. ■■ Discuss what types of changes they have in the case of conditionals they may not find a third accepted. Students This activity engages students in a situation that can write a synonym or different version of stimulates creativity. can (but do not have to) be correct. there is no absolute correct or with. there are materials for possible future use. we can use simple. A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions  | 101 . or phrases with a correctly used grammar feature (e. The following activity shows a can become effective language learning tools. They should realise that the same idea can be situations with ‘wrong’ or ‘incorrect’ solutions: written in many different ways and all those ways students who find some examples are successful. Vocabulary activities based on students’ existing knowledge Procedure New vocabulary can be taught in many different ■■ Show students some grammar feature in real-life ways. But what is more no ideas that cannot be expressed in more than one important is that they do not expose students to way.

It can make the task extremely beginning of a course. ■■ Ask students with the highest numbers of ■■ Discuss the differences between the synonyms. on the board.W. Later. Synonyms This activity may help students focus on synonyms at any moment during sessions. and similarly. new task is really difficult to solve or if it is difficult if we choose the L–D combination. ‘Did they say each word should be always ■■ Check the highest number of words produced. However. when we deal with more difficult or even inappropriate for teaching purposes. It can show the class that as a group. it is extremely difficult to form a word. if we choose any combination of letters with the letter ‘S’ at the end. ‘…it is not good to use informal words at school’. we often hear various types of reasons for not producing more sentences. ‘…my grammar is very bad’. It can influence the This type of discussion may be useful at the success of the activity. such as: ‘…. This activity may be used when some students tend In this activity. we can always remind our students of For example. choice of the letters is essential. say) ■■ Ask students to write as many different sentences as possible in two minutes.S. we can challenge ■■ Ask students (individually or divided into groups) students and ask questions. There are some who do not the time. we can expect a because they make it difficult in their own heads. in two minutes. ‘…it is not creative. we can expect a number of plurals. It was rather their own thinking.g. I wanted to have every word This activity may help students realise how many in each sentence completely different’. different?’ or even ‘Did the instructions say you should write the sentences in English?’ They did not. but not exactly the same. In this activity.g. The follow-up discussion can also help of sentences are usually those who choose a strategy students understand that synonyms have meanings of changing only one word in the sentence (e. students usually produce three to five to repeat one word in their speaking or writing all sentences on average. I started acting with Robert). as possible where given words start with the letters ‘I. the verbs. e.R’. Those who produce the highest numbers each other.g. Here are four examples. ■■ Share some examples students have produced Those questions should make the students realise with the class. ■■ Ask students to try to use the synonyms ■■ Discuss the reasons that have prevented others in sentences.g. they come up with any and others who write as many as 22 can always generate some synonyms and help sentences. adjectives). about spelling of some words’. ‘Did the instructions mention minutes. ■■ Divide the class into groups. (e. Procedure ■■ Ask students in groups to write as many synonyms for a particular word (e. I saw a that are similar. Letters and sentences This activity may show students barriers that might Procedure influence their learning. complicated. discussion. In the follow-up they can be used in different contexts is just a Letters and words game’. Procedure If we hear similar explanations. ■■ Write all the synonyms students have produced ■■ Check the highest number of sentences produced. of the class. ‘…I was not sure words of a certain kind they already know. spelling?’. complex tasks. such as ‘Did the to write as many different words as possible that instructions say the sentences should be start for example with L and end with D in two grammatically correct?’.g. barriers they had built for themselves in their heads. sentences to share their examples with the rest their meaning and use. number of past tense forms of verbs.A. from producing more sentences. that it was not the instructions that made the task ■■ Discuss different types of words (e. 102 |  A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions . lived. it is important to realise that our which prevented them from getting better results. if we choose the combination of letters this activity and ask them whether they believe the X–Y. nouns. and that wild rat/rabbit/Ralph/Rex/Richard…). I… S… A… W… R… ■■ Check the highest number of synonyms produced.

‘Groups of words’ idea that a creative approach to teaching allows students to notice and experience their own individual This activity may help students focus on categories learning processes and help them bring and share of never use in an academic article. for This activity can be used before we introduce specific language functions. name all the Clarke. And finally. ■■ Ask students in groups to divide words they have Available online at: www. their existing knowledge and skills to class.g. more varied by means of a combination of in-class and out-of-class activities. Procedure References ■■ Ask students to write all words that refer to some idea or concept in two minutes (e. We can ask students to Paragraph Song: Intro to Writing Paragraphs.pursuit-of-happiness.blogspot. His interests authors of their own learning. language teaching is based on a combination of his formal academic background (MA in English The examples illustrate the potential that creativity and American Studies. and creative teaching as an attempt to and author of teaching materials and publications. the necessity of any previous input from their teacher. Creativity-in-Modern-Language-Learning ■■ Ask students to form groups. presentations. strategies and tools. They also show include creativity. World History. Teaching and Learning. watch?v=mbxKUBsTWF8#t=38 Another illustration comes from the field of language styles. teaching-resources ■■ Let each group present their categories with examples of words that belong to each category. M (2010) Creativity in Modern Languages things that fly). engage students in close-to-real-life situations that His interdisciplinary and creative approach to cannot be solved by one clear-cut. Available online at: colloquialisms. C (1992) Learner-based Students who first think about ‘flying things’ and later Teaching.scribd. by dividing watch?v=ivAvsXeJAqM particular expressions into groups ( ■■ Discuss the criteria or systems students have created in order to group words into categories. Oxford: Oxford University produced into different groups and on the language function without the need to explain what classification is. Available online at: http://eapcreatively. critical thinking. all the words they would Available online at: www. Sir Ken Robinson. Available online at: www. write down. He is also a teacher Available online at: classification easier and teachers can later fully focus 5890/Perspectives-on- ■■ Check the highest number of words produced. Available online at: informal drama education (The styles in the areas of methods. Czech Republic. correct solution. Kryszewska. Available online at: www. classify them into groups may understand the idea of Lady Grammar Sings Bad Syntax. they emphasise the A creative approach to language teaching: students’ contributions  | 103 . How to Write an Essay Rap. PhD in can have to improve and broaden personal teaching Political Science).com fillers) students can find some rules or principles on their own without being told by the teacher. describes creativity as a natural skill all learners co-ordinator of language soft skills programmes have. M (2015) The Pursuit of Available online at: www. genres or registers. such as English for Academic Purposes Creatively. creative approach to language teaching that Brno. watch?v=gbc7jtmuOJM Conclusion Libor Stepanek is an Assistant Professor in This chapter has addressed some aspects of a English at Masaryk University Language A great advantage of all four examples is that students share their vocabulary and enrich one another without The Hours. local expressions or spoken language www. Available online at: www.sirkenrobinson. Bigy Theatre Workshop − San Remo GEF 2006 They introduce situations in which teachers can invite Special Committee Award Winner) and later intensive students to become active and enthusiastic co- training in ICT-enhanced teaching. possibilities as to how to make language learning academic writing and videoconferencing. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. vague words. H and Campbell.

project- via different forms of correspondence. It usually results in building students’ teachers will be able to create and elaborate their confidence. though based teaching with mascots are numerous: the teacher plays a major role in offering support ■■ thematically organised materials are easier to and guidance throughout the process.. 1993) project lies not only in the final product. 1994) from varied sources. and provides students with not forced. and also share some tips. and they can take place completely in the large number of language educators and is widely classroom or can be extended beyond its walls. ■■ Project-based learning focuses on content learning rather than on specific language targets. the value of the and Scardamalia. or as a whole Project-based learning has been described by a class. based learning shares some common features. or as a class to complete better learning (Anderson. or even a year. underlying principles of project-based learning within the examples shown. in small groups. I will conclude by identifying the but it also fulfils an educational aim. Teachers like using projects with children in language classes for good reasons. recall information integration of skills and processing of information and elaborate (Alexander et al. or even in other schools approach teachers choose to focus on. a full semester. and a student’s ability to ■■ Project-based learning leads to authentic process challenging materials. project-based learning has both a process and mascot-inspired projects it is developed and product orientation. Students can work on their information leads to deeper processing and own. ■■ expertise in a topic develops when learners ■■ Project-based learning culminates in an end reinvest their knowledge in a sequence of project that can be shared with others. I will outline some basic features of at different stages. 1990) ■■ Project-based learning is co-operative rather ■■ the presentation of coherent and meaningful than competitive. remember and learn (Singer. and stimulates the Bear and its friends. All the projects presented here can be carried out intensively over a short period of time or extended Project-based learning over some weeks. Whatever the other groups in the schools. boosting their creativity. project-based learning. and ■■ With project-based learning. with used in classrooms around the world. 104 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . sharing resources and expertise along the way. Based on these projects. learning and cognitive skills. wherever they are. groups. mirroring real-life skills. then show five examples of ■■ Project-based learning is potentially motivational. 1990) a project. 11 Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects Malu Sciamarelli Introduction Real-world subject matter and topics of interest to students can become central to projects. creativity. they can be completed in small groups. and with So. opportunities to focus on fluency and accuracy In this chapter. ■■ creativity is essential for learning. but also in the process of working towards the end point. students see work as all the activities can be adapted to small or large personally meaningful. giving the progressively more complex tasks (Bereiter project a real purpose. The benefits of project. ideas and suggestions that teachers can apply in their own Practical projects contexts. However. ■■ there is a relationship between student motivation and student interest. content of their choice. Inexpensive materials can be used. self-esteem and autonomy as well own original and creative projects with a mascot as enhancing students’ language skills. Finally. mascot-inspired projects with the fluffy toy Brownie empowering and challenging. ■■ Project-based learning is student-centred. such as cut-outs made from cardboard boxes.

with her lips all red from the berries. students have the opportunity to make connections with students of their own group. Students who read the books send the paper doll and written notes to students in other parts of the world by conventional mail or email. The short story or book may focus on any kind of good teaching activities at this stage: including geography. ants and all the varied insects she could see. In the Flat Stanley children’s books. contrasting with her pale skin and golden hair. you can write a story to use in the classroom. a third grade school teacher in London. and spending hours eating mulberries. flowers. Ontario. in distances and times. with journal entries and biographies. maths. and to develop their reading skills and facilitate writing. the mulberry was her favourite. Stanley travels the world in envelopes. and tell her dad she was full of blood. and narrative and writing. Preparation Choose a short story or book you want to use with a specific group of children. with locations of travels and destinations. The little girl and the golden bird Malu Sciamarelli Among the many treasured trees in the little girl’s garden. and laugh together! Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects  | 105 . Alternatively. birds. What a joy it was to come back. which was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert. make up horror stories just to get kisses and hugs. With Flat Brownie. I wrote the example below to use in this project. She loved climbing the tallest trees from which she had a view over the whole garden. Children exchange ideas. questions and their culture with students overseas. talking to the tree. and also in their school. Canada. You can focus on the following activities by using this story: ■■ plants ■■ fruits ■■ colours ■■ animals and insects ■■ comparisons. bees. Flat Brownie This project is a variation of ‘The Flat Stanley Project’. photographs.

in spite of talking to all living beings herself. To her surprise. she decided to climb higher and higher and higher. ask each student to write some notes or questions based on the activities of the characters they remember or like most about the short story or book they were reading. she could not contain herself and reached out her hand to touch him. –– The bees in the garden produce honey. heal all the hurt animals in the garden! As soon as she understood it. she has been walking in all the gardens in her beautiful world. The beak was the last part to vanish. Since then. select parts or chapters to read in each class. she decided to go back to the garden clutching the crystal beak tightly in her hand. Never having seen a talking bird before. it was a beautiful crystal dome. As it was open. To her amazement. she saw a little door among the branches. looking for wounded little creatures and healing them with the magic golden light from the crystal beak in her hands. he said: ‘Take my beak – it is magical and soon you will know what to do with it’. If it is a book. his eyes turned black and his tiny body started to disintegrate. it can be done in one class. she saw a bird with a broken wing lying on the grass. and that they would like Brownie to tell other students. ■■ If you are doing the project within your class. with its light. The little girl and the golden bird (continued) These lovely purple berries were her favourite fruit. to get his crystal beak and. not knowing exactly what to do. The wing had been healed by the light in her hands! And this was the secret the golden bird said the girl would find out. and then he was gone. As soon as she started to walk among the trees. and before he crumbled into grey dust. When he talked. The bird was astonishing! He was made of gold and moon dust. she was not sad any more. the crystal emitted the most beautiful and purest light. However. The golden bird had been waiting for someone to come. ■■ Ask students to draw the mascot Brownie (or a mascot of their choice) and make a paper doll. the bird that was lying almost dead flapped its wings tentatively at first then flew away. –– Does Brownie the Bear eat berries? –– Can Brownie the Bear climb high trees? 106 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . she stayed in her bedroom looking at the crystal beak in her hands. Example: –– Brownie is a bear and loves honey. the crystal opened up and a strong golden ray of light blinded her. The little girl was devastated. she decided to go in. The intense light seemed to flood her hands with a scorching energy and just as she thought she could bear it no longer. She could not stop crying as she was climbing down the tree. the moment she did this. and one day not finding any in the lower boughs. Then one day. and with a long thin beak of the clearest crystal. She immediately took it in her hands. When she finally found more berries. Procedure ■■ Read it to the group as a whole. If it is a short story. For several days. with tiny chairs all fringed with gold and when she touched one of them. a little bird came through the door and started to talk to her.

old newspaper. make sure you teach all the vocabulary that is Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects  | 107 . In turn. a restaurant. learning will flow naturally and in a motivational way. add a question and return to the original student or group. is involved. describe local traditions and scenery. or the mascot of your choice. ■■ Put the paper doll and the notes in individual envelopes with the child’s name. a cinema. cardboard cut-outs. in that children are inspired to write of their own passion and excitement about the project. a museum. and exchange the envelopes. exchange the envelopes with students of other groups. Procedure ■■ Divide the class into groups. flows naturally and tends to be more creative with this project. as most children are brought up playing with colourful building blocks during their early learning years. ■■ At the end of the project. use the same mascot for the whole group − it will live in this city. and add photos. Each group will be responsible for building one part of the city. for example a school. most of all. For this project. Model building Model building and construction foster spatial play and nurture a child’s dexterity. You can continue this process as long as you want to keep the project going. they also provide opportunities for fine motor development and for teaching interaction among peers and teachers. This is what teachers may call an ‘authentic’ literacy project. Preparation Create a name for an imaginary city. For younger children. what you want to teach your students. houses and shops. read all the stories for the whole group. While the groups are building. or even another country. Building blocks stimulate reasoning and creativity while teaching basic maths and literacy. problem-solving and logical thinking. ■■ Build the different parts of the city in groups using paper. polystyrene. Make sure it incorporates every amenity you would want in a city and. ■■ Each student or group should read the activities written on the notes. a poster in the classroom or a blog to document all the activities in which Brownie. Benefits ■■ Writing and learning becomes easier. A child’s interest in model building will inevitably originate from construction. as well as other cognitive skills such as planning. Combined with language teaching. a petrol station. a pharmacy. If you are doing it within your school. or ask students to get their parents’ permission to address an envelope and send the paper doll to a friend in another state. ■■ Keep a journal in the form of a notebook. Variation ■■ You can arrange exchanges with other classrooms in other schools. a park. they should then answer the question and add another activity. aluminium kitchen-wrap. ■■ You can publish the stories. or any other material. and given the freedom to write about many things through the catalyst of Brownie or a mascot of their choice. a hospital. and more than one class is involved.

‘Can I have a red crayon?’ ■■ When the models are ready. ■■ If you have a small group. and write the story they created. the park. and decided to leave his cave in search for more. tone. control. Brownie lives in a cave in the forest. ■■ It stimulates creativity and communication skills. ■■ Storytelling is highly social and each story told reminds students of their experience which they can recount at school and at home several times. and decided to follow them. space and measuring skills. you can build only one part of the city or farm. Benefits ■■ Model building provides opportunities to develop other skills by making use of English. They could not believe their eyes! Suddenly. ‘I was waiting for you! Come and have some honey. eat honey and have a good laugh together. a white bear came in. and I am hungry. ■■ When the presentation is done and documented. It was the happiest day in their lives. Brownie asked. each group has to create a story called ‘A happy day in my life’ using the mascot in their part of the model. he met a small bear called Dubi sitting under a tree. assemble all the parts together and make them use all the parts to create a single story. ■■ Film the presentation and document it on a class blog. pace and facial expressions for the groups. His name was Snow. ‘Could you pass the scissors?’. and focus on the relationship of the mascot with the animals. you can make a storybook. Brownie and Dubi visit Snow once a week. ■■ Students will learn how to follow instructions. ■■ Make them present their stories separately. ■■ Then.’ Snow was producing honey to give to all the bears who were hungry. and went into a small market. needed for each part to the group as a whole. model gestures. ‘Why are you crying?’. mechanisms. It may also be used as a resource for future activities such as storytelling and vocabulary learning. but could not find any honey. The bees were flying towards the village. Suddenly. Make students draw the parts of the city or farm. volume. Brownie and Dubi entered the market too and were amazed at what they saw: piles of honey jars in shelves from bottom to top on the walls. ‘Come with me and we will find it together. shapes. and the environment. Since then. He was crying. for example. ■■ Maths: numbers. you can build a farm and teach them animals. ■■ It is less stressful and more enjoyable. and designing and craftwork skills. When he saw Brownie and Dubi. they saw some bees flying away. and create a single story. Variation ■■ Instead of a city. increasing the language practice. he said. the church.’ They walked and walked all around the forest. They passed by the local school. he ran out of honey. ■■ Students will learn structures. On that day. 108 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . The example below was written by a group of nine-year-old students. On his way. the three friends ate all they could and enjoyed themselves. One day. but before the presentation. ‘I have no honey any more.’ Dubi answered.

Finally. ■■ Ask students why it is useful to have five senses. and which are far away? Ask them to open their eyes. ■■ In the garden. Do they smell flowers? Wet earth? Cut grass? When have they smelled these things before? Ask them to imagine what their mascots could smell − since a dog can smell things that we can only imagine. They will also learn the differences between the five senses and how they are useful tools for experiencing the world. taste and smell. Give them plenty of time to talk about each sense. and ask them to talk about what they experienced before. Have them close their eyes and smell the air. ■■ Explore the sense of touch next. ■■ Before going to the garden. and have them demonstrate each one. and helping us experience the beauty and wonder of the world around us. Have children find different colours in nature. and also describe the sound their mascots can make. or you know all the plants in the garden. Ask them why we want to pay attention to our senses when we are out in the garden. ask them to tell their stories out loud. using the vocabulary learned in the garden and from what is around them. draw pictures and write poems. Ask them to describe the texture of their mascots and what their favourite taste is. colour it and give it a name. ■■ The sense of taste is difficult to explore in nature. or are there different ones? Can they hear leaves rustling? Can they tell if the wind is blowing hard or soft by the sound of the leaves? What noises are near them. have the children explore their sense of smell. start with the sense of sight. Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects  | 109 . Tell children to close their eyes and ask them what they hear. each student should make a mascot with cardboard cut-outs. touch. unless you are with someone who knows how to identify plants well. This is a good time to explain this to the children. while some are smooth. ■■ Then sit on a nice spot. Procedure ■■ Ask students if they know their five senses. ask students to tell you the five different senses. ■■ Document all the stories in posters in the classroom. especially nature. ■■ Next. Then ask them to imagine what their mascot eats. helping to keep us safe. Also ask them if anything they see reminds them of something they usually find inside. Ask them to name one thing they discovered using each. is it just one kind of bird song. explore the sense of hearing. Are there birds singing? If so. or on a blog. Have them explore whether the objects that are the same colour are the same thing. ■■ Next. Ask students to find a few different objects with different textures. With this project. and name a situation in their day when it is important to make use of each of the five senses. and enhancing their creativity. hearing. ■■ Back in the classroom. using their mascots. students will use their five senses to experience the natural world around them. thus learning in a more efficient way. We make observations using our five senses: sight. Bring some fruits and remind the children that they come from nature. write and tell stories. have them compare how different flowers of plants feel − some are rough. on the grass or under a tree. with their mascots. and compare them with their mascots. because it can be dangerous to eat things in the wild. and help them write a story based on their experience. Our five senses are very important to us. and the use of a mascot. Storytelling and creative writing An observation is something that you notice about the world around you. If there are flowers or plants nearby.

■■ After that. 110 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . or they can be real fluffy toys. or the ‘flow’. but something that they noticed when studying each sense. and role in the story). so do comic books. make them draw an emotion-graph for each mascot: draw a line. But just as those genres have certain rules that arise from their forms. look and smell inside compared to when they were outside? Did they like exploring inside or outside more? Is a classroom a healthy place for animals and plants to live? Why/why not? ■■ Have students try to draw pictures of the five senses – not just a picture of an eye or a nose. combined with affective modes of thinking. You can create as many strips as you want later to form a whole comic book. create a plan for the beginning. close observation and imagination. intuition. The use of a mascot of their own will add a playful engagement to the project and with the language. a poem. you will teach them to think visually and then communicate those visuals in such a way that it will spark their imagination and enhance their creativity. When you practise comic book writing with your students. Alternatively. They can be made with paper or cardboard cut-outs. ■■ Start the project by creating one strip. Choose two or more mascots for each group and give them names. a novel or a film. Variation ■■ Have students repeat the ‘five senses’ activities inside the classroom. ■■ Next. emotion. Example: Blue sky Rough bark Orange scent Whistling wind Nice soft grass Itchy mosquito bite Eating sweet raspberries Benefits ■■ Writing a story (or poem) based on their personal experiences. Let students manipulate the mascots to let their imagination and creativity flow. ■■ Ask students to write an acrostic poem using the five senses or the name of their mascots. will flow naturally in this project. use a well-known mascot from your country or region. and the students will work in a fun-loving environment where risk is encouraged. Comic book writing Comic book writing is just as interesting and rewarding as a play. in an instant. depending on the length of the project. How do things feel. but instead use language to convey the immediacy of a moment. middle and end of the story. You will also teach them not to write the whole story. write their names and their features (their appearance. Procedure ■■ Divide the class in small groups of three or four children.

using the mascots. Variation ■■ There are many ways of creating comic Benefits ■■ Writing comic books in English is a medium of expression that can communicate a wealth of ideas and emotions. make them draw first (from three to five squares to form a strip). Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects  | 111 . small. ■■ Gather all the strips (or comic books). when you teach children to make a comic strip. ■■ If you decide to use technology. Also. including physical appearances. emotions and time. ask them to write sentences to create the story. ■■ On a separate sheet of paper. Choose what is best for your students. It is a way to channel children’s creativity. funny and happy anymore: sad and hungry 12. and to capture it in pictures and words. ■■ Finally. It is an engaging way of teaching concise writing. and what is available for you. It may also help children develop a love of reading and improving their www.00 No honey www.toondoo.bitstrips. Emotion Graph – Brownie 10 8 6 4 2 0 08. friendly. make students tell the story they created to the whole class. in which you can teach any subject. help them select what should be written in the strip. put them on the wall displays in the classroom and document them on a class blog. from pencil and ink. there are many tools available online for free. a medium where it is all right for their art to look silly or imperfect or childish.00 Brownie: Bear.stripgenerator.30 Met Snow and ■■ Before drawing and writing.00 Met Dubai: hungry and happy 14. for instance: www. ■■ Repeat the steps to create as many strips as you want. ■■ Then.00 They are now friends: the happiest day of his life 10. and an extraordinary form of storytelling. without even being aware they are practising. you will nurture their creativity and imagination before it gets stamped out. to digital pens and pads.00 Saw bees: happy and hopeful entered the market: afraid and surprised 17.

The other ones can be done with children only and the teacher facilitating the activity. including being scared. country or region: Cast: teacher and five students Teacher: Good morning. and he is always hungry for it! 112 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . ■■ Make sure you perform with them. You can use plays that were already written and include a mascot. He loves biscuits. for instance. ■■ At the end of the class. do not sit on the desk! (Student 5): Sorry I’m late. ■■ Teach them emotions in English. let go of (student 4). a friendly sheep. Teacher: Shawn the dog does not like paper. (Student 3). sit down. happy or lost and looking around. stop hitting (student 2). Children absolutely love it when they see their teachers performing! ■■ Each group must have the mascot that will be used in the play. and practise the emotions with it. ■■ Choose a mascot for the whole class. The play does not have to be long. ■■ This is an example of an initial mini-sketch. and decide with them what its main characteristic is. But the real joy of doing theatre both for the children as well as the teacher comes from performing the play in front of an audience made up of their students. in which the teacher will participate and help practising. teachers and/or parents. Theatre The basic idea of using theatre as an activity for students of English as a foreign language is simple: getting children to practise the language they already know or are learning in the classroom. in a real context. and put them all together at the end to form a play. The plays can be used as an exciting. Procedure ■■ Divide the class into small groups. a bear feeling lost. (Student 1). Teacher: Why are you late? (Student 5): I missed the bus and had to walk. and so on. where is your homework? (Student 1): Shawn the dog ate it. The real context here is amateur dramatics – short plays specially designed for young learners of English. if it is a happy dog. Teacher: Ok. varying from five to ten minutes. (Student 4). ■■ You can use as many classes and sketches as you want to practise language. Teacher: You live over there! Why are you late? (Student 5): I got lost. It is also easy to make it more personal by adding particular traits from your school. the groups perform the sketches for the whole class. or write a play for your class with the mascot of their choice. rewarding and challenging classroom resource in their own right. everyone! Everyone: Good morning! Teacher: (Student 1). ■■ Write mini-sketches (a short story that does not have many details) with them and have them try out simple emotions.

but it will boost their confidence and self-esteem. Even low-level students. When students are acting out the play. rewarding. there are other benefits that are more subtle. A great book with ideas for EFL teachers on how to deal with such areas is Drama Techniques in Language Learning – A Resource Book of Communication Activities for Language Teachers (Maley and Duff. you can use plays that are already written and add the mascot in the context. they have to follow the script to know when to say their lines. have to listen to and contend with a good volume of spoken English. and an event that the parents and children will not forget. in order to practise language. with scenery made from painted cardboard boxes. some chosen props and sound effects. the English is full on. If you have the chance to perform for another class or parents. However. Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects  | 113 . The scripts are not linguistically challenging. motivational and effective in boosting the speaking confidence of children. who only have a few lines to say. the final performance can be a wonderful activity for students to shine. Variation ■■ Instead of writing the sketches and play with the children. such as mime and improvisation. of course. written at a level of English with which the students will be familiar and comfortable. ■■ It is also fun. Benefits ■■ Involvement in theatre has an immensely positive effect on an English student. helping improve fluency. ■■ You can also practise other drama techniques in the foreign language. simply repeating a script they have learned by heart. build confidence and prepare students to act better. They are. The linguistic benefit lies in the increased confidence it gives students in their oral skills. 1982).

A (1982) Drama Techniques ■■ increase motivation because they will do in Language Learning – A Resource Book of something that is meaningful for them Communication Activities for Language Teachers. such as paper. third edition) Cognitive psychology They will also gain critical thinking and problem- and its implications. plans and actions. of their learning by making them lifelong learners. This transforms how they Creativity Channel: www. She believes that region. For some projects. ■■ stimulate socialisation and playfulness. ■■ increase engagement. imagination and creativity Maley. Also. materials designer. J and Conclusion References Project-based learning is an exciting way of teaching Alexander. ■■ allow them to write their own stories. A and Duff. 114 |  Teaching children with mascot-inspired projects . her main interests are reason to carry out the projects. Currently. materials. Anderson. creative writing in language teaching and creativity You can also use mascots from your city. teaching children with mascot-inspired initiate ideas. in many different ways. through exploring things and then making things and Website: www. express themselves. New York: WH Freeman. language institutes and children and the teacher to channel and create a in companies. J (1990.malusciamarelli. MaluSciamarelli because the experiences children have in their early childhood build the skills that make them able to deal with challenges in the future. teachers can affect how students perceive the world children might create their own mascot to follow around them. cardboard cut-outs or teacher trainer and consultant for publishers. environment approach language learning for the rest of their sharing them with others. country or in the English language classroom. C and Scardamalia. Teachers can also help students overcome fears. solving skills that they will need as soon as they walk out of the classroom into the real world. They can be made with inexpensive over 21 years as a teacher. You do not need to have a commercially made Malu Sciamarelli has been working in Brazil for mascot. and build a desire projects is teaching children through play. through being curious. With the projects described above. and develop their own creativity. them to the maximum Singer. or create a class mascot. Children for lifelong learning. polystyrene. learn better through play. Bereiter. Chicago: Open Court Press. you will The role of subject-matter knowledge and interest be able to reach all students and get them engaged in the processing of linear and nonlinear texts. M (1993) Surpassing ourselves: An inquiry into the nature and implications The use of mascots in the projects will also: of expertise. All you need is the enthusiasm of the She has taught in schools. help them ignite a spark of curiosity them through the term or year. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Kulikowich. T (1994) children. P. personalising UK: Cambridge University Press. thus giving them ownership Review of Educational Research 64/2: 201–252. M (1990) Psychology of language: An ■■ give them confidence to take risks in a fun-loving introduction to sentence and discourse processing.

action sequences based on blueprints. though it was not specifically addressed unpredictable and the unexpected. their own philosophy process involving higher-order thinking and cannot of education and. of someone who can trainee teachers. just as creativity trainees develop their creative thinking skills’ or. 12 Creating creative teachers Marisa Constantinides Introduction Memorable quotes from the colleagues who responded to my survey include: Creative thinking has been a recent concern among English language teaching professionals. the majority ■■ may be unable to develop flexibility in their responded that they felt creative thinking was thinking. teaching is not an exclusively creative input and ideas of others − proponents of different process but neither is it merely a set of repeated approaches and methods. teachers: trainers (Constantinides. professional understanding. think ‘on their feet’ and respond to the necessary. filtered. 2003). most of which are a category in their syllabus specifications. interdependent. It is based teacher educators. this attention has centred mostly on address knowledge of the content and the skills to learners. assuming perhaps that a trainee teacher is a mature In this chapter. any other thinking skills or cognitive abilities opportunities. decisions and solve problems in their own way Creating creative teachers  | 115 . syllabuses such as the Cambridge I would like to suggest that the lack of creative CELTA or the Cambridge DELTA. unable to make their own be ‘learned’. coursebook writers. thus. article writers. their learners but whose ability to be creative is taken for granted. The argument put forward is that the objectives However. novice or experienced. ■■ may become completely unable to develop their interpreted and translated into teaching is a complex own independent thinking. to develop produce original ideas. itself benefits from language use and L2 learning indeed. and still less anything related to the affective domain. artistic bent. do not include such attention for many reasons. In a recent survey among CELTA and DELTA In the absence of creative thinking. as of content. an over-reliance on methods and approaches as an we might as well be taught by robots!’ answer to effective learning (Kumaravadivelu. with the very good argument that language apply this knowledge in the classroom. If most of us agree with this. and the on knowledge. Yet teacher training courses do The second point involves our perceptions of the not usually include any objectives that would help creative person – that is. to mention two thinking skills in an educator needs immediate publicly available syllabuses. and possibly also has an this necessary aspect of their cognitive make-up. one might question and towards a focus on the mental processes that why developing teacher creativity is not already lead to more effective learning of languages as well an objective on teacher development programmes. to deal with in their syllabus specifications. Only one respondent learner difficulties as they arise and to think of felt it was neither needed nor the duty of trainers on good solutions quickly these courses to provide help to teachers to develop creative thinking abilities. 2014). How this knowledge is synthesised. ‘…creativity is all about responding to the learners This is very much in line with the move away from in the moment’ and …without developing creativity. I would like to focus on the teachers person who comes to a course and to the profession who are expected to generate creative activities for with all these abilities and strategies already in place. For example. technical authorities in general know-how and the personal qualities of the teacher. ■■ may be unable to do much more than follow a coursebook without appropriate changes to make the material more accessible to their learners Why do teachers need to be creative? ■■ tend to become more and more dependent on the For me. Syllabuses acquisition can benefit from activities developing this do not seem to include objectives such as ‘helping aspect of higher order thinking.

–– Perception blocks an approach. because appreciated than the ‘flights of fancy’ of people the teacher is not confident enough to try trying to be creative. it is viewed as a composite creates a negative mind-set that makes them of intellectual abilities. to which I have added some well as emotions and self-perception. This a single unifying ability. unless –– Strategy blocks work on the other factors is included as well. a teacher faced encouragement. knowledge as well as respect. For example. Rickards and Jones (1989) mention cognitive processes but with values and beliefs. is available. or as it is also The individual has certain beliefs and holds termed. Parents who frown upon any creative creative or innovative solutions to existing tendencies may be another cause for blocks to problems. as four. method. learn vocabulary falls back on an inappropriate strategy. 116 |  Creating creative teachers . –– Self-image blocks ■■ Blocks created by the social environment The individual is convinced they are too An educational system based on memorisation old or not clever enough to do certain things. preparation for games takes longer than most will reply in the negative. or even the use of a book. faced with a group of the creative thinking process. Here are the four main characteristics of ways are shown. is not on tightly to them to the point of rigidity. there is a valid reason to do so. these blocks are not only connected with generated. For example. for example: –– a teacher rejects adopting games not Why are we unable to think creatively? because they are unsuitable for the learners When trainees are asked in training sessions and or the aims of a lesson. This is a problem trainers often encounter on initial training courses ■■ producing ideas of various types (flexibility) when experienced colleagues find it difficult ■■ building on and embellishing existing ideas to abandon their ‘old ways’ and tend to stay (elaboration) with what they think is tried and tested. And in traditional educational settings. although it may be dormant or ‘blocked’. and exercise sequence is repeated. Yet psychologists and educators believe –– another teacher rejects the use of that some creative potential exists in all human educational technology because they beings. example creativity. outlined below. For example. giving the learners long lists of words Creative thinking skills training: and their definitions or translations to the basis of the practical ideas in memorise. divergent production (Guilford. Clearly. the same explanation. ■■ producing clever and original ideas (originality). professors and parents may stifle grammar point. is quite difficult for the individual to understand why. don’t want to learn how to use it. In the The wrong strategy is selected or no strategy training classroom. If the result is not successful. reflection and appreciation are all with the problem of helping their learners to of equal importance. analytical thinking is much more result may have proved inadequate. Even though new individuals. so working relevant examples: on creative thinking alone may not help. and rote learning does little to enhance creative therefore no attempt is made to find other potential. out any of the numerous other ways of ■■ Blocks created by the individual teaching grammar. Guilford further suggests that unable to accept a new set of values even if divergent production facilitates problem-solving. These blocks are of various kinds. as they do not fit into the ■■ producing lots of ideas (fluency) old values system. The attitudes of students who have difficulty understanding a employers. Blocks to creative thinking may also be self. it which personally affect him/her are ignored. the teacher is unable to use the creative process that he describes: them effectively. even if its logical. Solutions to problems other than those may be ‘bought wholesale’ and often be used relating to the teacher’s immediate reality or without reflection. something which language teachers are faced with a deeply rooted belief that learning a language on a daily basis in their classes – and that we know means a teacher explaining the rules is often enough about the creative process to be able to train seen on training courses. 1967). this article –– Values blocks It has been suggested that creativity. but because materials workshops whether they believe they are creative. few think they are following the coursebook creative. ■■ may adopt techniques and activities unthinkingly.

■■ materials can be put to new use in more effective and stimulating ways ■■ materials and lesson design becomes easier and more varied. some may even be original. then. seems to respond method but may be better able to evaluate. but answers that are also learners and teaching context varied. select positively to some of the issues mentioned earlier: and be eclectic in a principled way. as the teachers can come up with more than one solution to the problem of what to include at each stage Characteristics of creative people l Latera Flexible thinking g thinkin High orig inality ity High produc tiv n d e n ce Indepe Variety of solu tions of view Creating creative teachers  | 117 . ■■ teachers produce more ideas. and some of them can also be quite original ones Benefits to the teacher ■■ teachers are no longer ‘slaves’ to one or another Divergent production. same problem or tasks. These abilities enable the individual to produce ■■ it is easier for teachers to see new ways of not only a multiplicity of answers as solutions to the changing existing material to fit in with their aims.

is highly conducive accordance with the topic and focus of each session. Furthermore. For example.g. In addition. to this aspect of divergent production. This activity is much more self-help groups or as part of regular professional demanding and its main focus is fluency as well development meetings in the staff room. from the work of 20 (or five. In the training classroom. including creative thinking skills training. Helping teachers to develop their ability to think creatively. etc. compete to produce the longest list of unusual uses Creativity needs to be inspired by inspiring for a gap-fill. a text plus comprehension leadership that nurtures and appreciates questions. or video and are asked to brainstorm and some of his later publications. course input. work on team-building. The role of the trainer and/or I have listed the activities following Guilford’s the institution categories (1967) but clearly. song. 2002). 118 |  Creating creative teachers . The inspiration for the activities has come from a 20 activities variety of sources: from ideas suggested by Edward Trainees are given a single piece of material. image. Keep it going Practical suggestions and activities One of the trainees begins with a word or expression given on a card. or ten. evaluated and a relentless pursuit of fun and games but in the most suitable ones chosen.) activities that use it as a basis. we can take by Hadfield (1992). these activities and techniques can be seamlessly integrated within the content syllabus Variation without what some colleagues might consider time ■■ An alternative in the same vein involves being being wasted on brain training activities.’ as flexibility (see below) (Aoki. from the work of colleagues in creative writing workshops. possible to provide specific training activities that This also helps trainees practise different types of enhance divergent production in trainee teachers. and will be familiar to all who are involved in teacher Trainers need to model creative behaviours development programmes. or with social activities in a any coursebook activity and have teams or groups school setting or a self-help group. The value of getting themselves by using a variety of ways of handling teachers in groups to brainstorm lots of ideas. some could be listed under more than one category. and the effects of this Activities promoting fluency training may not be sustainable unless there is a Brainstorming positive culture encouraging and facilitating as This is perhaps the most frequently used activity well as demonstrating creativity. but can also work in teacher a negative sentence. when these ideas are discussed. given a question on a course topic. teachers who make the effort to be creative. de Bono in his famous book on lateral thinking (1985) text. from blogs as well as working with colleagues in the context of teacher development programmes and seeking ways to embed creative thinking skills training into our materials design. ‘Do you believe that your students enjoy listening ‘The ideas and techniques which follow work to songs?’ – each player must continue with a particularly well in the context of any teacher further question. teachers in primary classrooms. a chair. is not going to be enough. a role play. With a partner they must brainstorm Clearly. many unusual uses for an ordinary object. the practical activities and techniques as many questions as they can to elicit from their included here are based on the belief that it is partner the word or phrase they have on their card. never making a statement or training course. is essential from day one The original exercise involves brainstorming and needs to be followed through systematically. or other activity. either with activities such as those suggested e. generating Unusual uses trust among trainees. from training games to loop input – focusing on quantity at the initial stage and quality an idea suggested by Woodward (1991) – not in later. questioning for elicitation.

an ELT publisher. director of studies. etc. and actual coloured paper matched. students and even Variation minister of education! ■■ This can also be done as a playful mingling activity This activity is based on Edward de Bono’s Six in which some of the preoccupations can be Thinking Hats (1985). drilling. Creating creative teachers  | 119 . a sponsor. –– reading –– vocabulary Preoccupations –– pronunciation This is an activity in which each ‘player’ is assigned –– contexts. such as the ones listed students through a busy department store’. a syllabus designer. trainees can be asked out of troublesome situations to create a mind map with their assigned topic or a A number of strange situations related to specific piece of material (e. etc. such as the DELTA. such as role play.g. but deciding Variation whether this or that originator of a method or ■■ With higher-level courses.’ –– grammar Variation –– functional ■■ Trainees can write their own predicaments in –– listening teams and nominate and challenge members of –– speaking the opposing team to find a quick and plausible –– writing explanation for having used a specific activity in a lesson or after a particular stage. state a problem matter what other members of the group have to (e. a director of studies. a word or phrase to focus on. approach is the one who is chosen to be saved by the roles or the thinking hats could be well-known allowing them to stay in the balloon can generate ELT figures who represent an approach or a great discussions and promote both creative as well way of thinking. practice and production) and TBL trainer. drilling/rote learning. a researcher. PPP or attitudes to the problem can be created by the (presentation. a linguist. I have deliberately opted not to Scott Thornbury. information hats or badges representing different viewpoints gaps/communicative language teaching. Activities promoting flexibility and in a pair or group they must attempt to steer Role plays the conversation back to their own word or phrase. prompt their brainstorming. labelled branches to help themselves against specific accusations. or any other the trainer deems suited to the ‘A colleague overheard you telling your class to topic used as a focus: light the candles and switch off the lights. keeping it coherent and logically connected. These branches may ‘You were seen leading a group of blindfolded include ideas for practice. Henry Widdowson and mention any names as examples for this activity but Stephen Krashen. a teacher trainer. Such names might include as critical thinking. Trainees walk about the from among the many professional roles we are all room and change partners on a signal from their aware of. these viewpoints could be selected (task-based learning). or getting yourself ■■ Using large sheets of paper. For instance.g. My students don’t do their homework) and say about their own focus words or phrases! take on different roles to discuss the situation – parents.g. a parent. Balloon debates This may sound a trifle heartless. In ELT. e. have used it very successfully in ‘approaches and methods’ sessions on teacher development courses. or below. a text) at the centre teaching can be created and teachers must defend which includes specific.g. Variation Predicaments. e. tutor until they find their match. no With a group of colleagues. communicative language teaching.

a game at the end of the lesson on first conditionals’. ‘How would you Inserting activities go about connecting your class with another class Give trainees a coursebook page. but’ or contradictions be split into halves and used in a mingling activity. They then of learners in another country? Or ‘How would you start brainstorming as many activities as possible set up an extensive reading programme if you were that can be added between activities in the unit. Creating a new game from an existing one Desert island Trainees can be given a commercially produced Trainees are given a list of teaching supplies and a game. Imagine what the teacher said Given a lesson plan or some hand-outs used by a teacher on video. eight (or other suitable number) essentials they One such example produced by one of my trainee would take with them if they had to teach a class at teachers after I had introduced them to a DELTA a specified level of instruction with no other supplies Pursuits game was called ‘Proficiency Pursuits’ or facilities (see the image opposite for an example and involved questions covered in the C2 I have used with my trainees). Take opposing sides on a teaching problem. You can see its mirror activity below Ask the trainees to take an exercise from your for a contrast. This is a more demanding activity involving discussion and decision-making. e. Cambridge exam. coursebook and try to turn it into a game. The ‘sentences in a sentence’ completion exercise can ‘Yes. and the ‘Yes.g. or write similar sentences are very reluctant to use English in class. rather than in a negative way. ‘I think we should have (mistakes and all). such as Pictionary or Taboo. for and against using information gap activities. 120 |  Creating creative teachers .g. e. and’ or expanding statements trainees try to reconstruct the teacher’s language Start with a suggestion. who also commented that it builds a positive mind-set and Turning coursebook activities into games collaboration. Each subsequent player must begin their turn by Activities promoting originality saying ‘Yes. instead of Problem-solving activities completing the usual gap-fills. Activities promoting elaboration/ Variation embellishing ■■ The trainer can supply a group with a teaching practice report and the hand-outs used.g.g. a number of different solutions to the problem of persuading them to use English in class. the trainees watch an excerpt without sound and recreate the teacher’s words and student responses. Pairs Introducing an innovation into your teaching or small groups hold the argument for as long as programme they can. your beginning students into complete nonsense. the students can These are activities that again may focus on your be asked to change the sentences and turn them teaching situation. and…’. This is an activity I learned in a workshop by T Rickards.g. and asked to desert island brief and are asked to decide which think of ways of adapting it for use with a class. e. Suggest about classmates or famous people they know of. given ten sets of class readers?’ This may mean new activities or changing existing activities in some way. thus being forced to elaborate Design activities are generally excellent as ways and expand the previous person’s ideas in a positive of helping develop original ideas. For example. e. e.

these practice opportunities are leading: to enable Materials treasure hunts via Google teachers in training (and at work) to create more. However. and this is where. I consider these activities as practice coursebooks altogether for the duration of their opportunities focusing both on the content and on training programmes and report positively on the cognitive mind-set. © Marisa Constantinides Putting creativity to work Imagine you have no coursebook As previously suggested. This idea may not in itself be creative. Visualisations and metaphors Many trainers like to use this technique. Their suggestions. etc. choose a metaphor for a lesson (e. the activities are listed for your next lesson under one heading but some do more than just one Some colleagues have also reported abandoning thing. materials design based on authentic skills development. documents and introducing educational technology into the curriculum. but it fits with better and with more ease. a concert. trainees need to the benefits to their trainees (See also Tomlinson. Here are some of their ideas. I asked colleagues to describe some These may involve planning a series of lessons activities which they include in their sessions and or a set of materials. ultimately. materials evaluation included in any attempts to work with thinking and adaptation. e. Overall. a play.g. Ideas suggested by colleagues Group projects In my survey. fall mostly under the Sessions in which these ideas are typically used umbrella of holistic practice that must also be are assisted lesson preparation. draw an image representing your coursebook.g. draw an image to show how you visualise teaching.). apply the skill to their designated planning. which they believe develop creativity in their trainee teachers. design in this volume). Creating creative teachers  | 121 . and teaching tasks. the concept of curating content before producing one’s own.

and online on a variety of teacher courses. Conclusion Woodward. problems in a novel and more effective way. New York: McGraw-Hill. using literary texts. to teachers have themselves become great sources Kumaravadivelu. most of these tools are Publications. Summer and preservation of digital assets. is a new way of 2002: 10–11. and Scoop. Learning is. M. of new content for teachers and teacher educators. after all. new artefacts. but that is not the usual way we create. New ideas may sometimes originate 9yQYSYtQw/viewanalytics in a flash of inspiration without previous knowledge or information. She has published books classroom. new tools. Hill. including As teacher educators. ELT writer and conference more exciting and stimulating and the tasks of speaker for more than 20 years. indeed. which can be defined as the archiving to develop. J (1992) Classroom Dynamics. and sustain them in their own development long after numerous articles on She is the Director planning and lesson and materials design easier of CELT Athens and trains teachers face-to-face and more effective. programmes to equip teachers in training not only moderates #ELTchat every week and blogs on TEFL with the techniques and knowledge needed for the Matters. Oxford: Facebook timelines and Twitter streams belonging Oxford University Press. de Bono. write new material. There are many great tools on the web to help Brown and Company. Unpublished Survey. B (2003) Beyond Methods. Hadfield. new appliances. Furst. UK: Little. T and Jones. Constantinides. She also regularly volunteers make a point of including such activities in our on TESOL Electronic Village Online (EVO) workshops. her main blog. learning and a course has ended. N (2002) An alternative way for teachers Curation. We learn best in groups and creativity is often sparked off in the presence Rickards. new technology. teachers collect and curate digital assets which in turn may inspire them to blog. Management Decision 27/1. educational technology. T (1991) Models and Metaphors in This chapter is based on the firm belief that by Language Teacher Training: Loop Input and Other undergoing some focused training in developing Strategies. J (1968) Intelligence. art. Creating objectives: The classification of educational goals. Creativity and their Social networking has a significant role to play Educational Implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. new content. our own creative thinking skills. 122 |  Creating creative teachers . E (2009) Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of design new lessons. L (1989) Creativity Audit: and company of others. D (1956) Taxonomy of educational ideas is not the only expression of creativity. de Bono. social. New Haven. also social networking tools. W and binders in the past. describing what teachers used to do in boxes and Bloom. CT: Yale University Press. Pinterest. by others can be key in supporting the creation of 1huDMEZBjmURpBrdo2jc9gMxm0XxR3FpTu- original content. Creating original and ‘clever’ Krathwohl. those of us involved in the teaching profession will enhance our potential Marisa Constantinides studied Applied Linguistics for dealing with the problems of daily teaching and at the University of Reading and has been a TEFL find new ways of making our approach to teaching teacher educator. Some of the most popular include Diigo. encouraging users to share learning and collaborate and learn together. New York: David an existing idea has also given us many new works of McKay Company. J (1967) The Nature of Human Intelligence. Guilford. and deal with classroom Creativity. E. San Diego: Robert R. Curating online and offline content References as a stepping stone to creativity Aoki. Knapp in such quests. The Teacher Trainer 16/2. Guilford. Penguin UK. I believe we need to the CELTA and DELTA. new inventions. but also with a set of skills which will for young learners. E (1985) Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management. M (2014) Creativity in Teacher Education Courses. results Curating and organising teaching resources created available online at: https://docs. a Diagnostic Approach to Overcoming Blocks. something new as a result of changing or building on Handbook I: Cognitive domain.

The learner as a creativity resource   | 123 . ideas and possibilities to ‘think outside language learning. control and create what happens most important part of the classroom is the people in in the classroom’ (Deller. and a positive atmosphere was felt freedom to come up with new and unusual ways in the classroom. classroom. experiences. a very different type of learning begins to artwork. were engaged innovative. words. or simply having the and motivated. when this happens it generally creates an atmosphere in which true learning begins to take Giving the learners space place. and process. do not think of our learners as empty vessels to By maintaining a non-threatening atmosphere be filled with knowledge. etc. the teacher can encourage can be cultivated and harvested. initiate. realise. Those looking in from the outside may to ‘learn about the language’ but to discover what notice not much more than a board to write on. two factors which can help learners to discover their own strategies to learn a language and enjoy the process. made progress. This is when creative ideas can spring and allow learners to verbalise feelings and emotions forth and learners begin to experiment with the which they might instead have left outside the language (which is actually how we learn our first classroom. Simply memorising vocabulary or learning Sometimes it is simply a matter of giving the learners grammar rules is not necessarily a sign that learners the space they need to express their ideas and have internalised language or even dealt with ‘how creativity by setting tasks which enable them to to learn’. but as fertile fields which in the classroom. For this from our learners is a valuable lesson for all of us. it went well. risk-taking and the joy of play. along they can do with it. 1990). Bringing in songs. having a vision. something not normally expected in innovation. Keeping this in mind it. Each of our learners comes to class with a unique can also help us to become partners in the learning set of values. ideas and thoughts. perhaps overlooking the fact that the contribute. and the realisation that we can learn a lot a wealth of knowledge waiting to be tapped. can serve as a springboard to creativity take place. a lecture. Our learners have much more power than we may as creativity comes in so many different forms. Learners also bring knowledge of language). being unique. Therefore it is necessary for us with some tables and chairs. it is most likely because we felt that the changing existing ideas. A lesson which is primarily ‘teacher to carry out tasks. However. But when we step back and give them the contribute their own thoughts and experiences opportunity to access the language they need in while experimenting and expanding on the language order to express what they would like to put into they need to do this. music. Classrooms around the world focused’ stops being an interaction and becomes are filled with wonderful resources for creativity. It is also vital that we demonstrating both creativity and innovation. and wonder where the to ‘create more situations in which the learners can resources are. When we walk out of a lesson feeling that Creativity can involve using one’s imagination. 13 The learner as a creativity resource Marjorie Rosenberg Introduction The power of the learner A simple definition of creativity is not possible. original and learners enjoyed it. It is then that an element of fun comes other cultures and languages to class which into the classroom – an important element in the can be exploited with a variety of activities creative learning process. Our learners are not usually there the box’. reason making use of the learner as ‘a creativity resource’ not only makes sense but also provides The teacher as facilitator teachers with an unending source of material to Sometimes it is difficult for teachers to ‘let go’ and develop and nurture both inside and outside the give the learners the chance to take over for a time.

at the university level and in ideas. music and art language is something we do naturally – but learning were easy to do and came naturally to me. Being creative is a wonderful thing but if we keep it inside us as a well-guarded secret. preparation). regardless of age. the activities described here can be done anywhere and with any group with a minimum of preparation. In addition. One of the main factors of these activities is the creativity is encouraged when we provide input but fact that they fit into the concept of ‘NTP’ (no teacher allow for a wide variety of output from our learners. as we were as children. thoughts and feelings in a new language – the teacher training sessions. we have a better chance of developing this creative talent. exactly what learners need to go on. thoughts and ideas. my learners providing the chance to remember what it was like joined in and took part in the activities. and this becomes a ‘virtuous circle’ as success breeds more success. most need just the everyday articles we can find in the classroom. Having fun in used in a variety of settings. and they all rely on minimal input from the teacher and aim for maximum output from the learners. As I was a second generally involves hard work. Therefore these activities are done in pairs. These have to be creative. enthusiastic about what we were doing. some I just tried out because they seemed like fun and my learners seemed to enjoy them. no one will ever realise the potential we have for innovation and creativity. can help practise particular areas of grammar or vocabulary learners of all ages to discover not only new words and have since been used in courses for government and grammar structures. Some of them I have learned from other trainers and adapted. Creativity can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: if we think we are creative. and providing then been refined and developed to be used to a safe atmosphere in order to do this. add their own personal experiences. Therefore. and communicate these to others. The activities The activities also make use of the concept of playfulness. 124 |  The learner as a creativity resource . In adult education the classroom. In addition. being engaged and overcoming classes held in the evening or on weekends it very inhibitions are ways to increase motivation. but how to communicate officials. Coming from the performing arts myself. goal of language learners everywhere. and quickly became apparent to me that learners needed this motivation can encourage learners to try things to be engaged and be able to put aside their daily out and take chances. in companies. Success breeds success persona in order to fully participate in an English and therefore this type of encouragement may be class. While I fully appreciate the value of prepared and laminated cards and board games and worksheets. groups or even with the whole class. The majority of them can be expanded into writing activities which could be done in class or as homework. Learning a first I found that incorporating drama. which I like to encourage in all of The activities described in this chapter have been my learners. All in all. they encourage learners to think for themselves.

Creating a story Aims ■■ Inspire emotions and feelings with music and images. They can write it down if they like. ■■ Ask each group to tell the others their story. Each group can have different sets or you can use the same set for each of them. they can either begin to put the pictures into order or they can wait until the music is finished and then decide on the story. Materials A short excerpt (three to four minutes) of a piece of dramatic-sounding orchestral music. Examples include: ■■ Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide. ■■ Give them enough time to finish their story. they are to create a story of their own. ■■ Ask them to discuss the pictures briefly and to ask if they have any questions about vocabulary. ■■ Give learners freedom to create their own story. feel and people. objects. ■■ Encourage self-access of vocabulary and grammar structures. ■■ Tell them that they are going to hear a piece of music. ■■ Anton Dvořák: Slavonic Dance No. ■■ Instruct the learners to spread the pictures in front of them so that everyone can see them. These can come from travel brochures. advertisements. clip art or Eltpics: www. just make notes or remember it. Pictures of places. Based on what they hear. ■■ Play the music again and have them look through the pictures and rehearse the story in their minds. etc. ■■ Puccini: Overture to 2 in E minor. Students can write up the story in groups or individually for homework. etc. The learner as a creativity resource   | 125 . ■■ Play the piece of music for the learners. Procedure ■■ Put learners into small groups and give each group a set of eight to ten pictures. ■■ While listening.

■■ Begin by drawing a line on the paper and encourage the learners to do the same. ■■ Speak about the finished drawing using sentences such as: ‘What could this be?’ ‘This reminds me of…’ and ‘I think this looks like…’. Materials Different reproductions of works by famous artists. ■■ Instruct them to look carefully at the pictures they have chosen and to imagine themselves in the scene. have the learners colour it in using different colours to create a piece of modern art. or making a prediction about what will happen in the future. Making use of the masters Aims ■■ Give learners the chance to imagine themselves in a picture which they use to elicit emotions and feelings. Procedure ■■ Lay the pictures out on the tables or have learners come to the front of the room and choose a picture. Creating modern art Aims ■■ Use a type of modern art drawing created by the learners as a springboard for ‘language drills’ and moving on to freer speaking. Then ask each learner to express the feelings they experienced by imagining themselves in the picture and have the others guess which one it was. They should then try to experience for themselves the emotions or feelings that the picture elicits. Materials A large piece of paper for each ten learners. ■■ When they have finished. ■■ Once a line drawing is finished. 126 |  The learner as a creativity resource . they hold a discussion about the pictures in their groups and compare the feelings and emotions they experienced when looking at them. Students can write up the story in groups or individually for homework. Procedure ■■ Put the paper in front of the learners and make the pens available. ■■ Put the learners in small groups and have them lay out all their pictures together. ■■ Learners can write a story about the picture describing what happened before the picture was painted. and coloured pens or crayons. The best types to use are those which show scenes and people rather than just landscapes or single portraits. ensuring that there are enough for each learner to have one.

4) dancing.g. Co-operative chain Aims ■■ Give learners freedom to complete sentences and work together to create a metaphor (the chain) of the classroom. Building a machine Aims ■■ Have learners work together to think of an unusual machine. ■■ Get to know each other with an inclusive and creative activity. The learner as a creativity resource   | 127 . Example: 1. I am good at… -ing 4. Procedure ■■ Give each learner a strip of paper and tell them to choose three of the sentences to complete. ■■ Encourage them to use their bodies to create movement and a process. ■■ Learners write their name on the strip. Materials A photo or drawing of a machine. ■■ Put the learners into small groups and tell them to think of an unusual machine and what it is for (or what it can do). Procedure ■■ Teach vocabulary of sequences (e. ■■ To reinforce language. The machine has to have a purpose. You will also need some strips of paper and sticky tape.g. ■■ They then work out who does what and present their machine to the class. I like to… 3. after that). first. ■■ Transfer from first person singular to third person singular using the correct form of the verb. They can use sounds but no words. The machine should have a part for each member of the group to act out. My favourite food is… 2. ■■ The others watch and then guess the purpose of the machine. Students can write about their machine in groups or individually for homework. I am bad at… -ing 5. etc. they act out their machine again and narrate what exactly is taking place. then. ■■ Show a photo or drawing of a machine to learners and elicit ideas from them of its purpose. Materials A list of ten numbered stem sentences on the board. the numbers of the sentences they have chosen and their short answers. e.

and with charts they can be asked to explain them. Give each of these groups a letter (A.). so they have to get the information from the person who is the expert. They then tell the other groups what they decided and in the case of a cheer they can act it out for the others. B. charts. ■■ If you have given them a short text. Using ‘home’ and ‘expert’ groups Aims ■■ Learn to set up an atmosphere of interdependence in group work. ■■ Encourage a feeling of belonging and peer encouragement. they should try to solve it and discuss how they did this. they can be asked to talk about travelling or terrain. e. If they have a logic puzzle. ■■ Make a chain out of the strips by making a loop out of one strip and then adding the others until a connected chain is formed. rather than the teacher. ■■ Ask one learner to begin by saying whose link they are is holding and introducing the person to the group by saying their name and then reading out the completed stem sentences. ■■ Have the learners stand up and take hold of one of the links of the chain which belongs to another student. ■■ The teacher then leads the activity by asking someone in a home group to give a short summary of the text. etc. maps. The answers are then confirmed by the other experts in the room. etc. logic puzzles. explain a puzzle. instruct them to read it and then write short summaries of it or answer questions about it.’ ■■ As each person is introduced they then take their turn to introduce the next person until everyone in the group has been spoken about. The important part here is that the person asked is not the ‘expert’ on that particular text. If they have a map. Procedure ■■ Put the learners into so-called ‘home groups’ of four to six learners. ■■ Number each of the students within their group and ask them to remember their numbers. She is bad at dancing.g. Materials ■■ Several short texts – enough so that each ‘expert group’ has one to work with (these can be on the same topic or different ones). talk about a map or chart etc. ■■ Form new groups (the so-called ‘expert groups’). ask the learners to return to their home groups. Each expert group will contain four to six learners drawn from the different home groups. ■■ When they have finished. ■■ Hang up the chain in the room and explain that the group is linked together as they are in the chain. C. ‘This is Carol. 128 |  The learner as a creativity resource . ■■ Make use of combined creativity within a group. etc. These expert groups can then be used to carry out a number of tasks. ■■ Give them some time to choose a name for their group and either a logo or a group cheer. an answer to a question.

■■ The learners then pass their papers to the right and the next group is asked to draw a nose. come up with a story about how they met the ‘person’. ■■ A coloured pen or pencil. ■■ This continues until the face is completed. ■■ They then present ‘their friend’ to the class and answer any questions the others may have. what they are good or bad at doing and add something that most people do not know about the ‘person’. ■■ The drawings are then passed on one more time and the pair or group who gets the final drawing creates a persona for the face. They should think of a name. The learner as a creativity resource   | 129 . They can be reminded to be creative with their drawing. Students can write up the story in groups or individually for homework. ■■ The papers are passed again and the next group draws the eyes. Procedure ■■ Tell the pairs or groups to draw a circle filling at least three-quarters of the page on the paper. what the ‘person’ likes and dislikes. ■■ The last groups to get the drawing can add anything they feel it needs. Circle faces Aims ■■ Come up with a creative story about a fictional character based on a drawing created co-operatively. such as jewellery or freckles. Materials ■■ A piece of paper for each pair or group of three.

abbreviations. ■■ Awaken interest in the stories by others in the class. Materials ■■ A piece of paper and a pen for each learner. ■■ When they have finished they exchange their mind maps with their neighbours who then ask questions about the meaning of the information in the circles. etc. Personal mind maps Aims ■■ Encourage learners to be creative with their own personal information. ■■ They fill in these circles with dates. Example: Important year An Name of pet abbreviation Name Favourite Important activity number Activity person does not like doing 130 |  The learner as a creativity resource . they then introduce their partners to the rest of the class. They first draw a circle in the middle of the page and write their name in it and then add six to eight lines which connect the circle to other circles. numbers. that mean something to them personally. Procedure ■■ Ask each learner to draw a personal mind map. words. names. ■■ After ‘interviewing’ each other.

The learner as a creativity resource   | 131 . They can draw floor plans or pictures. ■■ Make use of storytelling. an old farmhouse in the country or a bungalow at the beach. ■■ Pens. They need to work together and each of the people in the group has to contribute to the final result. ■■ Glue or tape. Creating an ideal home Aims ■■ Work together to create an ideal living environment. or paste on the pictures they have. ■■ Catalogues or advertisements from furniture stores or homes. Procedure ■■ Put the learners into small groups. age. ■■ Tell them that they are going to think up a new identity for themselves. ■■ Ask them to talk first about their ideal home and its location. Materials ■■ A large piece of paper. (Name. job. ■■ The groups can use the pictures they have to create their ideal home. ■■ Pens. Materials ■■ A4 paper cut in half. Soap opera – creating a family I learned this game from Andrew Wright Aims ■■ Create an alternative identity for oneself. interests. outdoor facilities. and the home must be designed for the whole group to live in. it can be a large loft in a city. ■■ They then have to create the perfect home for the group. etc. etc. etc. ■■ Work together to join the identities into a family unit. travel brochures. hobbies. they present their posters to the class and answer questions about it. label rooms. ■■ When the groups have finished. traditions. Procedure ■■ Give each of the learners a piece of paper and some pens. ■■ They then draw a picture of the person they would like to be and make some notes about the details they will need. ■■ Use creative ideas to produce a poster.) ■■ When they have finished creating their new personas they introduce themselves to the group.

■■ Tell them to think of a small thing that went wrong for them in the last couple of days. Once they guess. the only rule is that they cannot tell the story to the person who started it. This can be done with six to ten students. larger classes can form more than one family. The class listens and people try to guess if it is their story. ■■ They can attach the drawings they have to a larger poster and then present the information to the class and answer any questions the others may have. ■■ Explain that they are going to exchange their story with another person. deleted. Then ask one of them to tell the story they just heard without mentioning the name of the person who told it. ■■ Continue until all the stories have been told along with the originals. they tell the original story so the class can see what has been added. They then look for new partners and the game continues for ten minutes or so. Materials A small piece of paper for each learner. ■■ Stop the game and ask the learners to return to their seats. ■■ The next step is to form a family. Changing a story This too is a game I learned from Andrew Wright Aims ■■ Add creative details to an everyday event. They also exchange the pieces of paper with the names on them. ■■ Remember details and gist by listening. As they tell their first partner what happened they exchange the piece of paper with their name on it. The groups work together to decide on the relationships of the fantasy identities and the dynamics within the family. Remind learners that they can be as creative as they like when changing the stories. This can be something like forgetting to buy milk for coffee or forgetting to set their alarm clock. Procedure ■■ Give each of the learners a small piece of paper and ask them to write their name on it. etc. making one or two small changes in the stories. ■■ The learners take their slip of paper with a name on it and find a new partner to exchange stories with. etc. 132 |  The learner as a creativity resource .

Conclusion This is one of the factors that keeps us fresh and
helps us to truly enjoy what we are doing. Realising
The ideas and activities suggested in this chapter
that our learners are people who can contribute
are taken from current methodologies and
significantly to what goes on in the classroom may be
approaches such as Suggestopedia, communicative
the first step to opening the floodgates to creativity.
language teaching and co-operative learning.
Finding ways to encourage them and support them
Suggestopedia takes advantage of learners’
can be the way to optimise the impact of both the
fantasy and imaginations by having them create
learning and the teaching, a goal that those on
new identities which they use throughout the class.
‘both sides of the desk’ are aiming for.
The game about making a family was used in several
courses taught using this method. The learners are
encouraged to take chances, and as they are able References
to disassociate from their everyday identities and Deller, S (1990) Lessons from the learner.
act as another persona, they do not have to worry Harlow: Longman.
about mistakes. Music is used to relax students
Grundy, P, Bokiek, H and Parker, K (2011) English
and create an atmosphere which is different to
through Art. Innsbruck: Helbling.
traditional classrooms.
Keddie, J (2009) Images. Oxford: Oxford
In the communicative approach learners become
University Press.
acquainted with the functions of language and are
encouraged to use it to get their message across. Kryszewska, H and Campbell, C (1992) Learner-based
They can also talk about feelings and emotions when Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
presented with pictures and other materials, and
Larsen-Freeman, D (2002) Techniques and principles
the teacher works as a facilitator who sets up the
in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
activities to promote communication. The social
aspect is regarded as an important factor and Rosenberg, M (2013) Spotlight on learning styles.
speakers have the freedom about what to say and Peaslake: Delta Publishing.
how to say it. As authentic language (at least as much
as possible) is the goal with this approach, all the
Marjorie Rosenberg has a Master of Fine Arts in
activities suggested would fit into this method
Music Performance and makes use of music, art and
and have been used in classrooms in which English
creativity in the English classroom. Originally from
is taught communicatively.
the US, she has taught English in Austria, trained
Co-operative learning is explained in the activities teachers and presented at conferences for over
and is a method which teaches social skills along 30 years on topics such as music in the classroom,
with language or other subjects. Students learn co-operative learning, personalising teaching
to develop ‘positive interdependence’ in group materials, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and
work and the groups are structured in such a way activities designed for a wide range of learner types.
that everyone has to take part. In addition, learners Publications include coursebooks, photocopiable
help each other to reach a common goal and activities, and articles and books on methodology.
learn from each other. As learners interact in the Marjorie was the IATEFL BESIG (Business English
target language and take on responsibilities, they Special Interest Group) Co-ordinator and a member
also develop respect for each other and their of the IATEFL Membership Committee. She is
capabilities, making it easier to use learners currently the Acting Vice-President of IATEFL. She
as resources in the classroom. blogs at

Once teachers have experienced the freedom of
giving learners space to try things out, it becomes
easier to do it. We may be afraid to let go of control
at the beginning but seeing the enthusiasm of
learners and feeling the atmosphere of growth and
trust can help us to continue on this path. One of
the joys of teaching is suddenly coming up with a
new way to present a concept and realising that our
learners have now gained a new perspective on it.

The learner as a creativity resource   | 133

Practising creative writing in high
school foreign language classes
Peter Lutzker

Introduction Creative and artistic processes
In this chapter it will be argued that it is in the in adolescence
deeply human need to listen to and tell stories that In ‘entering into’ a foreign language, young people
the finest potentials of creative writing lie. Stories not only have continual chances to perceive
not only shape the imaginative and emotional life of the world from a new standpoint, but also of
a child, but also the acquisition of language and the experiencing their own language, culture and ‘self’
development of thought and self. In her seminal work from another perspective. It is within this larger
on the role of stories in childhood Susan Engel writes: context that creative writing can play a crucial role;
…stories are not merely a nice or fun decoration not as the occasional ‘fun and games on Friday
added to the real stuff of mental development. afternoons’ but as an essential dimension of what
They are, in many respects, the real stuff of can be learned in and through a foreign language.
mental development. The construction, telling
Learning to express oneself creatively is a highly
and retelling of stories allow children to learn
individual process deeply rooted in one’s inner
about their world and reflect on their knowledge.
imaginative and emotional life. At the same time,
The making of stories also allows them to know
it also calls for a heightened perception and
themselves; through stories children construct
awareness of the world outside of oneself. When
a self and communicate that self to others. (…)
adolescents are given opportunities to become is an essential aspect of what it means to
engaged in such artistic processes, what they can
be a human being. (Engel, 1999: 206).
learn both about themselves and the world goes
It is these same formative dimensions which listening far past what most traditional schooling generally
to and telling stories call upon that also lead her to offers. Maxine Greene writes:
emphasise the importance of later encouraging I believe that the learning provoked by what we
children and young people to write them: call aesthetic education is paradigmatic for the
The purpose of encouraging kids to write is not learning many of us would like to see. Learning
just to get them to write more happily or to become stimulated by the desire to explore, to find out, to
better writers. These experiences have a profound go in search. This is the learning that goes beyond
and formative effect on the child’s developing teaching – the only significant learning, I believe.
narrative voice, and through this, his developing It is self-initiated at some point, permeated by
sense of self. The narratives created in writing have wonder, studded by moments of questioning,
a deep connection with the ones created in play always with the sense that there is something
and in conversation... (…) They all contribute to the out there, something worthwhile beyond.
development of the self and to the development of (Greene, 2001: 46–47).
the second world – the one that allows us to live in
Viewed from this perspective, the task of the teacher
the past, the future, the impossible, the world of
is transformed from primarily imparting knowledge
narrative that allows us to share ourselves with
into creating opportunities for pupils to be able to
others. (Engel, 1999: 221).
take their own initiatives as part of their broader
One of the precepts underlying the use of creative search for meaning and orientation. It is this
writing in foreign language learning is that these connection between artistic experience and
processes of storytelling and ‘story encouraging’ personal development that lies at the heart of
can also have wide-ranging implications in learning Greene’s understanding of a meaningful education:
a foreign language.

134 |  Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes

Most significantly, I think we too often forget that Traditional language learning relies heavily on the
the primary purpose of education is to free persons training of language skills, particularly with respect
to make sense of their actual lived situations – not to vocabulary and grammar. Coursebooks are
only cognitively, but perceptually, imaginatively, carefully designed to train specific skills within
affectively – to attend mindfully to their own lives, clearly defined frameworks. Such training also
to take their own initiatives in interpreting them and implies focusing on clearly defined, short-term,
finding out where the deficiencies are and trying to testable goals. Practising is fundamentally different
transform them. (ibid. 206). and involves a longer and subtler process. The
carpenter and violinist have in common that they
At the core of this vision lies a belief in the individual
have practised for years and through their practice
and biographical will of the pupils to grasp such
have been gradually transformed. Their practice sits
opportunities of growth when they are presented
deeply in their bodies and movements and also
to them:
shapes the way they feel and think. It is not reaching
Surely you recognize that this kind of thing seldom the goal that transforms a practitioner – they may not
happens naturally. Situations have to be created even reach a goal – but the nature of the practice
that release the energies required, that provoke itself. It is this crucial distinction between training
interest, that move persons to reach beyond and practising in language learning that is highly
themselves. (…) With this in mind, we can somehow significant in this context.
trust that, if we have taught how to search and let
them catch some gleam of the untraveled, they When creative writing is considered as a long-term
will find their own ways, as we have done, and process of developing perceptual, imaginative and
begin teaching themselves, pursuing their own expressive capabilities, then this calls for practising
possibilities. (ibid. 47). in the sense that all creative artists continually
practise. And it is within this larger and richer
In pursuing their own possibilities, young people will context that heightened and transformative learning
need both encouragement and feedback from their experiences in a foreign language become most
teachers. What they will also need are opportunities possible. In the context of viewing the practice of
to practise. creative writing in conjunction with the specific
demands of foreign language learning, Alan Maley
The practice of the arts argues that the challenges and constraints implied
Developing the skills called for in creative writing in developing one’s creative writing skills require
invariably depends on having enough possibilities disciplined engagement on different levels:
to practise them. The word ‘practice’ is often used Contrary to what many believe, creative writing
interchangeably with the word ‘training’, but they is not about licence. It is a highly disciplined
have very different meanings, and the distinction activity. However, the discipline is self-imposed:
in this context between practising and training is “the fascination of what’s difficult”. In this it stands
crucial. When training for something, one has clear in contrast to expository writing, which imposes
goals and attaining those goals becomes the focus constraints from without. (…) Creative writing is a
of the work; the way one reaches them becomes, at personal activity, involving feeling. This does not
most, a secondary consideration. A typical example mean that thought is absent – far from it. The
would be muscle building in a fitness studio. ingenuity of a plot or the intricate structure of a
poem are not the products of unthinking minds.
(Maley, 2006: 35).

Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes  | 135

my translation). appropriacy and originality of lexical is very helpful to place individual creative writing choice. It will mean searching for that same year. The classes someone else. Although the different exercises which will be capabilities: presented in the following section were offered Creative writing aids language development at within a specific context. It would certainly be possible to For language teachers to facilitate such creative also do this project a year later and. they necessarily engage with Short story projects in EFL the language at a deeper level of processing than high school classes with expository texts. vocabulary.a language that not preparatory unit consisting of ten 45 minute lessons only opened a new world. At the same learn French in school (‘I am a victim – a victim of time. (…) . instead I am allowed to play. it will how a creative writing project can help to serve such also foster significant improvement in language goals. I don’t have to be someone in this in which I taught these units were mixed-ability language. In stark and appreciated by others is a strong motivational contrast to his traumatic experiences in having to factor throughout the entire process. a faint are given at least six weeks to work on their stories remembering of the human dream of becoming as a long-term homework assignment. to express uniquely personal meanings (as they do in creative writing). Learning English was for me the realisation The following section details a three-week of a boy’s dreams. a focus on what the Swiss writer Peter Bichsel refers to when he working towards a final text which will be read describes his experiences in learning English. perhaps in some learning processes. I have (Bichsel 1985: 54. which are designed to prepare pupils to write their gave me the possibility to take on a new role. generally chosen to do this in 11th grade where the average age is 17. stress assignments within the broader framework of a and intonation are significant. At this point in the 11th grade look for possibilities to go beyond the constraints they will have already read. a year earlier. he describes and highly challenging goal gives a structure and his later learning of English: direction to all the activities and lessons which follow. As learners manipulate the language also be considered as representative of those kinds in interesting and demanding ways in their attempt of exercises which I believe to be most valuable. discussed and written which standardised curricula. 1985: 52). it will be necessary for them to classes. establishing from the very beginning a clear French lessons’) (Bichsel. He argues further that precisely because the degree The argument that I am making is that creative of affective and cognitive engagement in aesthetic writing offers manifold possibilities of doing this and creation is so much higher than in those activities the following section offers a concrete example of driven by specific language-learning goals. large-scale writing project. rhyme. EFL classes in Steiner schools in Germany. they could also easily be all levels: grammar. but as a potential source of freedom. They will also have read a number ways to encourage and support the individual of short stories in both 9th and 10th grades. 136 |  Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes . a own short stories. The gains in grammatical It has consistently been my experience that it accuracy. The fact that they are being asked or short stories. They can discourse. a faint breath of change. Exercises done over The deeper level of language processing that a period of weeks are thus viewed as a form of Maley refers to can be understood in conjunction practising designed to enable pupils. phonology and used or adapted for use in other situations. but music student practises not only for herself.. for instance. (ibid). but far more than that. with a pupil’s desire to express themselves to write their own collection of poems. and sensitivity to rhythm. screenplays meaningfully. Working towards such a goal is to do this in a foreign language should not be particularly important in artistic work: just as a considered as an insurmountable hindrance. This is exactly for a performance for an audience.. development of each of their pupils. After this introductory unit they form of acting. coursebooks and essays about two or three modern short stories in testing often impose. not only with respect to language learning but also in their broader search for meaning in their lives.

What’s wrong with your voice? (1990: 24–26). what kind of man do you prefer? context. Now what is the matter? are encouraged to look for one or more possibilities 4. as well as to the type of assignment. different possibilities. I had imagined it was later. it’s nothing. I’m sorry I was late. I wanted to ask you something. I’m not so sure. Ten lessons as preparation for A. same time. I was not going to. Why. but 5. either by describing the general outlines of 13. The wide range of choices which are thus offered both with respect to the combination of lines they choose. writing a short story B. they are asked to choose one of their entering the mosque. how am I to judge? which will end with the pupils having written their E. any sense and if a pupil proposes one. May I sit up? I will not struggle against or by writing lines preceding and/or following the you again. pupils 3. belonged together. 9. Someone will go for her with a bread completely different situations and possible stories. Don’t you? often chosen to either use or adapt the following exercise taken from Maley and Duff’s book Literature K. Go away. N. My wife has left me. disbelief and panic. that some pupils are already feeling and. I specifically make the point that it is not a question of getting it ‘right’. You don’t think much of Australia then? Working either on their own or with partners. I already have. faculties in a playful way. Why can’t you talk properly? L. Did you? What was it? of curiosity. I want to talk to you about this letter that you sent me. I do not use the answer key and 7. at the H. Procedure 2. Oh. Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes  | 137 . knife one day – and he won’t miss her. That? Oh. Feel free to list O. Has anything happened? of combining these lines. and let him rise. is crucial and can also be seen as a thread going through all the following creative writing assignments. I say. own short stories is generally met with a mixture F.. In this situation I have J. nothing. I’m not so sure. Tell me. leave the question open as to what lines originally 8. pairs and for homework to put this into a larger 12. no need to call anyone.. In the first lesson I am thus aiming to alleviate the feeling of dismay G. Speaking out may get you into trouble. You should take off your shoes before of the lesson. It’s often done so in the past. Materials M. rather realising that different combinations lead to 6. I gently suggest they should consider another. given exchange. Match the following first lines with the responses given in the next section. For that reason. to awaken their imaginative and creative I. I’ve never thought of it. Split lines C. At the end 11. Why are you going to marry him? a situation that could have led to this brief exchange 14. The announcement that we are beginning a project D. Oh. It was unavoidable. there are pairs of lines that don’t make 10. They consulted. Can’t you see that I’m not dressed? 1. Twenty-five minutes past five. Naturally.

Achieving this quality of listening to and generally finishing at home what was begun in the lesson. ■■ How old might the person be? Although theoretically such assignments could also ■■ What might their occupation be (or have been)? be done entirely as homework. The following exercise. However. that you would most want to save in case as ‘workshop’ pieces. in this case. This means. Whether I choose to do this or not will often with that person. Over the years. since you already In the third lesson I like to offer a complete shift of have that in your pocket!) modes. The atmosphere in the class is highly pupils know. ■■ Life story.)? fruitful to have much of this kind of activity done ■■ What kind of a personality? together in class. 138 |  Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes . children to me that it is generally far more enjoyable and or not. In this exercise. both the presence and support of the teacher. texts to correct language errors and possibly to having to rewrite the entire assignment so as to have 1. Each group will receive a large photograph of a that although dictionaries are provided. as well as the atmosphere generated by the creative energy of the other pupils. in the context memories which this object triggers. it has become clear ■■ Family circumstances (married or not. The pupils are invariably grateful to have someone who can immediately help them ■■ Likes and dislikes? in expressing something that is important to them. I have read Procedure loving and detailed descriptions of cars. Possessions quality of results than when such assignments are only done as homework. stuffed animals. Then choose one of those depend on the amount of work that they had put into objects. others will require a further lesson would be to listen to some of the homework ‘finishing up’ at home. An exercise like this will lead to an extraordinary range of answers. (Do not write about your mobile phone. is the task which usually generates both the most active discussions and the Procedure most laughter in the entire unit. it is evident been my experience that the interest in finding out that one will often need more than one class hour to what other pupils did with the same assignment is complete an assignment. Each group will have 15–20 minutes to concentrated and the pupils are very absorbed in answer the following questions about the person. the teacher person. Particularly. trying to be as amounts of time. if one also takes generated by the first assignment. This will then lead to either very pronounced and thus the quality of listening a further extension of the work to be done at home. none and providing help with the necessary vocabulary of whom should be recognisable as someone the and phrases. It has consistently the time to listen to each other’s work. I feel that it is necessary to respond precise in your description of that object as likewise by taking the time to correct and comment possible. Feel free to bring in any personal appreciatively on their work. there was a fire in your house. walking through the classroom distinctive and striking photographs of people. It is helpful to choose an interesting range of is in constant action. the one that seems most resonant to it: if a number of them had invested significant you and write more about it. personal diaries and a spectacular array of The class is divided into an even number of groups of keepsakes. The students write in class. Describe it precisely and explain to your reader why this Working with photographs of people object is so important to you. An assignment such as this one I might collect afterwards and then correct and comment on. Think of someone you know well and list it in a corrected form to be put into their language different possessions which you associate portfolio. as was the case with ‘split lines’ or. etc. Write about a personal possession/object following that I will choose to leave uncorrected. which then occurs in the classroom is unusually high. four. and then have at least one person write them down. pupils are given two possible tasks This would then lead to them having to rewrite their and are asked to choose one of them. appreciating each other’s work is a significant element of the entire project. of this unit there are also assignments such as the 2. generally lead to a higher Discuss your answers. ■■ Where does the person come from? Thus. remembering and describing what they’re visualising. Some exercises can be One highly worthwhile way of beginning the second finished in class time. which I have adapted from Maley and Duff’s Drama Techniques in Language Learning (1982: 128–129).

A few pupils fit that particular class and then read them with the may not be willing to do this since what they wrote class. Procedure Losses You can either show the picture and hand out the After the last humorous lesson it can be appropriate instructions for students to work on. The following four extracts from articles were will provide fewer problems. their answers and then the ‘experts’ tell the others for example in Rembrandt’s ‘Jacob and his Sons’. devised by Rolaine Hochstein (1995: 44–49) and can generate very moving pieces of writing. or the story about the woman who bought a vase at a flea market for £20 that This is an example of a writing assignment that I turned out to be a rare antiquity worth tens of might let the pupils work on for perhaps 30 minutes thousands of pounds. through closely observing assignment calls for can help prepare pupils to later and considering all the details that can be seen? more clearly visualise and develop characters in their own stories. Out of this collection I choose in class and then ask if some of them would be willing extracts from four articles which I think would best to read what they have written so far. are described. You are not drafting something you with pictures in language classes. or the man who spent 30 years in jail wrongly accused of a crime Procedure he didn’t commit. The students in pairs or groups to brainstorm ideas following assignment is adapted from an exercise before they start to write. for someone that you lost in your life that was instance. The following exercise was adapted or film would be told from and what possible from Paul Matthews’ collection Sing Me the Creation beginnings. most of which fit into What can be lost? Write about something/ the category of ‘fact being stranger than fiction’. the loss of a family member. ranging from wallets to guinea pigs. What potential highpoint could you LCD projector. The mixture of perception and imagination which this their relationships. a chance to shine. For some learners then have to follow up on. and text in a literary or cinematic manner. build towards? Feel free to think of different There is a particular value in working intensively alternatives. First the ‘non. what they ‘know’. the story about the missing canoeist who meaningful to you. middles and ends could be (1994: 30) and requires the use of an overhead or developed. Each of them could provide the potential ‘seed’ for a short story or film. taken from newspapers. and after only five minutes the two groups meet and exchange their answers. Think of whose perspective the story satisfying. Write a descriptive piece in which the different experts’ (the group that only had five minutes) give relationships between the figures in a painting. was assumed to have drowned and then five years later walked into a police station. may be highly personal. Working with newspaper articles Materials Over the years I have accumulated a collection of unusual newspaper articles. What conclusions can you draw about each of the characters and. for instance. or start with to offer something completely different. in conjunction with the following assignment. but rather considering whose visual sensibilities are more highly developed different possibilities for treating a non-fiction than their verbal skills it is both more stimulating. in particular. Other losses that I have heard about over the years. After 15 minutes exchange pictures with another Materials group. Choose one of them and draft the Working with paintings outline and/or storyboard for a short story Once again a complete shift of modes can be or a film. Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes  | 139 .

amazement. one page. It is crucial that excitement. Stands watchful and etc. helplessness. embarrassment. hysteria. In class we will be doing something different: a unit So Jamie began to think of Death. Materials including possible camera shots and choices of music. fear. usually taken up by more than half of the class. Death. the commentary presents a full recognition and discussion of what has been written and that the tone of the commentary not be that of a teacher ‘correcting’ her pupils but of an interested reader responding to a writer with constructive and respectful feedback. The scenarios that are generated are often quite detailed. Procedure With an average of 38 pupils I have generally needed Ask students to write a paragraph in this manner up to six weeks to complete this work. What need has I’m interested in knowing where they are in their Death for a cover. overlooks the world. A dialogue between the ‘writer’ and the teacher motionless all day with his sword drawn back. teacher’s work begins. jealousy. detailed commentary on their work. the Watching God. It has been adapted from an exercise designed by Meredith Sue Willis (1995: 44–49). as an interested ‘encourager’ of the work begins waiting for the messenger to bid him come. and/or Depending on how intensively the class take up this develop different possible plots of different task and whether I ask them to continue working stories that could be generated from this on it at home.) for at least another paragraph or two. Their Eyes Were After receiving the short stories of each pupil. sides to it. At the end using one of the following words: depression. The great one who lived them to bring their unfinished manuscripts to class in the straight house like a platform without at the end of each week so that I can see their work. against him? He stands in his high house that whether they have an idea of how the story will end. Beginning their own short stories At the end of this preparatory phase the pupils Materials will begin working at home on their own stories. and what winds can blow story. it often takes up a third lesson as well. Depending on the size of the class. love. beginning. 140 |  Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes . what form of narration they have chosen. It is an assignment that can also be done fruitfully as partner work – particularly in the context of the draft of a screenplay or storyboard. Procedure Story openings The possibility to turn one of these articles into This might be the final exercise before they begin a film scenario and/or a visualised storyboard is their own stories. (It takes a while just to go through the continue writing the story from this point on four stories and for the pupils to make their choice. Six weeks later: handing in their stories Zora Neale Huston. here and will continue and intensify in the course Been standing there before there was a where or of the project. greed. joy. Procedure The first lines or opening paragraphs from about Mr Death ten different modern short stories are copied onto This exercise once again provides a shift of pace. pupils receive both a fully corrected version and a satisfaction. This is an assignment that I carry over into the Choose one of these beginnings and either next lesson. They strange being with the huge square toes who have at least six weeks to finish their stories. that that requires little or no additional homework. and without a roof. She was liable to find a feather from his wings lying in her yard any day now. a when or a then. I ask lived way in the West. correcting and commenting on all these stories will require a substantial investment of time.

In the course of these Mukundan. as well as periods of creative inspiration and flow. R (eds). This means that at the W. rooted in the a complete and corrected version of their stories. R (1995). in writing their stories: imaginatively. cognitively. write are. Classrooms II. They become deeply involved Oxford University Press. in Edgar. P (1994) Sing Me the Creation. A (1990) Literature. If we Practising creative writing in high school foreign language classes  | 141 . directors. New York: in which the story is enclosed. the finest and most extensive work that each pupil has ever done Maley. other’s stories sensing. M (1995) in Edgar. as personally meaningful and it is exactly this sense Old Faithful: 18 Writers Present Their Favorite of purpose that they most deeply seek. New York: Teachers and Writers same stories. The reason Matthews. clowns and experienced as a creative assignment. Darmstadt: ‘author’. For the teacher such hours usually involve just sitting New York: Teachers College Press. Freeman. J (ed) Creative Writing in EFL/ESL six weeks. This is a them in light of the corrections and. almost without exception. Malaysia: Pearson Longman. M (2001) Variations on a Blue Guitar. the possibility ‘to attend mindfully to their own lives. energy in this project is that the work is experienced Willis. P (1985) Schulmeistereien. it is throughout Europe. If they don’t References understand something. New York: Teachers and and aesthetic satisfaction which is thus gained by Writers Collaborative. A (1982) Drama Techniques in Language Learning. At this point a further highly satisfying phase begins. quietly and observing pupils appreciating the work Hochstein. Greene. in emotionally and volitionally. we have a wide range of possibilities to Learning (Tübingen: 2007). A (2006) ‘Creative Writing/Reading’. end of each class all the authors rush to their own folders to see what their classmates have written. C and Padgett. The personal Writing Assignments. Collaborative. he has focus nor mine. they can easily ask the Bichsel. not as a storytellers with the aim of enhancing the artistry language-learning task. to take their own After getting back their stories the pupils rework initiatives in interpreting them’ (op. This work was described in his book The Art both in terms of their relation to the foreign language of Foreign Language Teaching: Improvisation and and in their perception of themselves. and only they. potentials that they. they will seize them. They are generally quite astounded at the originality and quality of their classmates’ (corrected) work. A and Duff. resistance and unmotivated phases. In 2010 he became a offer pupils such creative challenges and thus a Professor at the Freie Hochschule.). chance to develop through meeting them. in the end. I have often seen this as a deserved Old Faithful: 18 Writers Present Their Favorite Writing reward for the untold hours I spent correcting those Assignments. Conclusions Maley. Maley. At the Luchterhand. have ‘learning that goes beyond teaching’. Stuttgart. end of reading a story they are asked to write a Engel. In the context of designing essential to realise that this was neither their main different programmes for language teachers. Peter Lutzker taught English in Steiner schools The pupils naturally also make significant steps in in Germany for 25 years. Such artistic projects can of teachers throughout different forms of dramatic have long-term transformative effects on pupils. A and Duff. However. Cambridge: Cambridge It has been my experience that the stories the pupils University Press. as Greene writes. C and Padgett R (eds) of other pupils. cit. who is sitting in the same classroom. each other’s stories during class. as well as teaching a wide range of language skills. training. Oxford: up until that point. can develop – provided they are given Over a period of one or two weeks the pupils read chances to do so. particularly with pre-service and in-service courses for teachers respect to vocabulary and grammar. Stroud: they are so willing to invest so much of their time and Hawthorne Press. creative potentials of our pupils. The project is both intended and worked closely with actors. Two months later: reading each offer them such opportunities. pupils invariably encounter difficulties.H. S (1999) The Stories Children Tell: Making personal response to it and to put this into the folder Sense of the Narratives of Childhood. accomplishing a task of this order must be seen as a decisive factor in evaluating its value. As language Drama in Teacher Development and Language teachers.

and some key authors whose poetry and short stories students had little aspiration to engage with were more relevant to students’ language levels. On the basis of this. students’ own voices are clearly underestimated Aims and ultimately unheard in literature classes. 2000. In this way. The course was expected to achieve the In an attempt to reverse this situation. this chapter following aims: aims to share practical experiences in making ■■ to motivate students to read literary texts literature more inspiring to students and in fostering their contribution and creativity in literature classes. In our context. teaching literature in the lecturing this was to drive away students’ fear of literature due mode often turns students into passive receivers to the many challenges they face in the initial stages of knowledge. worse. students were asked advocated for its undoubted advantages both for about their expectations of it. materials selection. 2011). In particular. and assessment were made and cultural values are also unfamiliar to their clear to them. literature in English. methods of teaching usually beyond their ability but because the literary and learning. to achieve this. Khatib et al. In order for extensive reading. interests and maturity levels in mind. the teacher could point out the match of the course many EFL students still find literature an inhibiting and the students’ expectations. materials. it concentrated on (three credits) in a three-year curriculum. 2010). 15 Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context Phuong thi Anh Le Introduction Practical suggestions and activities Teaching literature in EFL/ESL classrooms is widely At the start of the course. the following texts were chosen to be atmosphere where students could play an active studied in class. it can lead to rote learning and plagiarism in methods of teaching and assessment. ■■ to enrich their love of literature ■■ to enhance their thinking skills. The aim in doing As well as this. language and for personal development. Specific details about subject. Therefore. allotted time.. rather than active readers who can of their learning. it was essential maturity and interest. Even covers four main aspects: aims. in addition to other texts provided and meaningful role in learning literature. 142 |  Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context . 2013). Special attention was paid to ongoing experience (Baurain. students’ assessments (Nguyen. the course focused on 20th century the literature course occupied a very small part American literature. assessment which was aimed at supporting rather than evaluating students’ learning. The description of the course below contribute their own ideas (Dagnew. Brief background The activities described in this chapter have been Materials used in American literature courses for Vietnamese To make the contents more manageable within the college students majoring in English. the course was designed specifically for them with their language. not only because the literary language is the course aims. However. for the teacher to create a motivational learning Specifically. organisation.

‘Acquainted with the where the focus was on students’ exploration and Night’.. they were encouraged to think about what they read and how it was relevant to their own life and experience. Too. Sing America’ teacher was able to motivate students to further (Langston Hughes) exploit what they had learned. Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context  | 143 . cited in Khatib lesson’. the method of exemplifies and illustrates a lesson on a famous teaching was based on a reader-response approach poem written by Robert Frost. In this way. students were not expected to spend time figuring out exactly what was meant by the authors by their works. ‘while- response to the texts (Amer. As a principle. the pictures were chosen on the Short stories basis of key themes and images in a poem or a story. ■■ ‘A Lamp in the Window’ (Truman Capote) These pictures were accompanied by questions ■■ ‘The Cop and the Anthem’ and to orient students into thinking and finding the ‘The Gift of the Magi’ (O Henry) meanings of the texts. the questions fell into four main categories: lead-in. et al. Poems Realising that literary language was often challenging ■■ ‘This Is Just To Say’ (William Carlos Williams) for students. critical thinking Methods of teaching and creative thinking skills. By doing this. Ultimately. The following section Guided by the course objectives. Thus. Rather. such as analytical. the ■■ ‘Dreams’ and ‘I. As a type of scaffolding and ■■ ‘Love of Life’ (Jack London) guidance (Liang. ■■ ‘In Another Country’ (Ernest Hemingway) The teacher made it clear to students that it was ■■ ‘Going Home’ (William Saroyan) more important for them to justify their opinions ■■ ‘Sorrow for a Midget’ (Langston Hughes) than to worry about whether they were right or ■■ ‘The Magic Barrel’ (Bernard Malamud) wrong. 2003. and ‘post-lesson’. Differences in students’ opinions were used ■■ ‘The Snow Goose’ (Paul Gallico) as the basis for their discussion. analytical/ ■■ ‘The Story of an Hour’ (Kate Chopin) interpretation and evaluation. 2011). these ■■ ‘The Road Not Taken’ and ‘Acquainted with devices were aimed to set students thinking about the Night’ (Robert Frost) what they read and to arouse their emotions as ■■ ‘My Brother Lives Too Far Away’ (Mark Van Doren) triggered by the poem or story. the teacher was able to promote students’ higher order thinking skills. the teacher made considerable use of pictures and guided questions to help them in the ■■ ‘Grass’ (Carl Sandburg) initial stage of exploring the texts. comprehension. 2011). Specifically. in three main stages of ‘pre-lesson’. they were expected to recreate the meanings of the works based on what they understood and felt.

via a PowerPoint presentation. ■■ Does the rain influence young people and old Example: people differently? ■■ What was the poem about? ■■ What do you think about a person walking in the street alone after midnight? ■■ What was/were the main theme(s) of the poem? ■■ Could this person be happy or sad? Why? ■■ Do you like the poem? Why/why not? ■■ Do you have/know any similar experience? The third set of questions made them relate the situation to their personal experiences ■■ What do you gain from this poem? and perceptions. All students were expected to express their opinions first in pairs and then with to share their opinions. ■■ Have you ever been in the rain when you were sad? While-lesson stage ■■ What was your experience? At the start of the class. It began with setting the tone of the poem. students were asked individual responses. mentally and affectively ready to explore the text Then. for the lesson by reading the poem and showing their initial understanding of it by writing their answers to ■■ In what way does the rain influence a person? some general questions set by the teacher. which was analysed in detail. Pre-lesson stage The second set of questions asked about different impacts that the rain could have on Prior to the class. ■■ Why are they feeling that way? lonely ambience of the text. This lead-in have more opportunities to share their perspectives stage was followed by text exploration. Text exploration The first set of questions was aimed at drawing out their feelings and thinking about a person walking This was the step when students were formally in the rain without a raincoat. students were asked to prepare old or young people. towards the main theme of the poem. students had more preparation and directed to less able students so that they could chances to show their perspectives. exposed to the poem. The pictures also aimed to set a suitable showed several pictures of different kinds of people atmosphere for this exploration and orient the class walking alone in the rain in different situations. which was accompanied by lead-in questions which invited loneliness. Thus. Via these questions. the teacher further. ■■ What do you find hard to understand? ■■ Have you ever been out in the rain? Students were encouraged to write as many ■■ How did you feel? questions as possible about what they did not understand or would like to know about the poem. and develop their self-esteem and confidence. individuals were asked to ■■ How might you feel if you had to walk in the write down their questions about the poem on the street alone after midnight? board. ■■ What is the person doing? ■■ Setting the tone: this was done by reading the ■■ Where are they going? poem aloud. ■■ Why aren’t they wearing a raincoat or holding ■■ Overall understanding: students worked in pairs an umbrella? to discuss their initial understanding of the poem ■■ What do you think about a person walking by answering the following questions: in the rain without a raincoat? –– What was the poem about? –– What was/were the main theme(s) of the poem? –– Do you share similar or different opinions with your friend? 144 |  Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context . These questions would be answered by the These questions were supposed to get students class during the lesson. first by the teacher and then by the ■■ How are they feeling? students so that they could feel and show the sad. Easy questions were often their class.

And dropped my eyes. unwilling to explain. to settle conflicts between their understanding of the poem even more through ideas. ■■ Do you like the poem? Why/why not? ■■ What do you particularly like or dislike about the poem? –– What had he seen on those lonely walks? ■■ Have you ever been in a similar mood or situation –– Did the surroundings look happy or sad as the poet? to him? How? ■■ Do you know of anyone who has had a similar –– Why did he drop his eyes when he saw experience as the poet? the watchman? –– What do the surroundings tell you about his mood? Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context  | 145 . –– How did that cry sound to him? –– Was that cry meant to call him? –– Was the poet an old or young person? How can you know? –– How did the poet feel when the cry was not meant for him? –– Had the poet been out at night many times? –– What did he see in the sky? –– Was he out alone or with someone else? –– What does this thing signify? –– Is it normal for an old person to walk a long way in the rain alone at night? Why? –– Why did the poet say ‘The time was neither wrong nor right?’ –– Why did he walk a long way in the rain alone at night? What could be the problems? –– What is the tone of the poem? –– What do all these details tell you about this –– What are the possible themes of the poem? old person? At the end of this stage. The same procedure was adopted for the other Evaluation parts of the poem until the whole poem was studied. the poem was conducted part by part. several students were asked to read discussion when necessary to explain language the poem aloud again as this helped them to show problems that arose. –– What did he do when he heard that cry? I have outwalked the furthest city light. I have been one acquainted with the night. I have passed by the watchman on his beat. the teacher identified the differences in students’ opinions if any. a set of questions was posed for each part of the And further still at an unearthly height. and experience related to the poem by answering the questions below. But not to call me back or say good-bye. each with a different Proclaimed the time was neither wrong set of questions: nor right. The poem was One luminary clock against the sky divided into three parts. each group was responsible for facilitating the by students about the poem were answered by discussion using the guided questions and the class the class with or without the teacher’s interference. and to clarify ideas or to share comments. When far away an interrupted cry ■■ Deep analysis: in this part. I have stood still and stopped the sound and used these differences for further guidance for of feet the text exploration. While students shared their opinions. responded individually. all the questions raised Then. students shared their personal evaluation I have looked down the saddest city lane. –– What did he hear in those nights out? I have walked out in rain – and back in rain. their voices. a deeper analysis of Came over houses from another street. The teacher joined in the By this time. ‘Acquainted with the night’ by Robert Frost I have been one acquainted with the night. In this step. To do this. poem and students worked first in pairs and then groups to discuss the answers.

do the tasks for each lesson. questions about the text before the lesson. vehicle for students to reflect on their inner life To feel happy and to have something to show. the teacher exposed them to poems written in simple English taken from Life in Words That I’ll pass the next graduation exam. main things: a) initial answers to the teacher’s ‘My baby’. no money. and c) a record of their extensive reading In disappointment I woke up too soon. This stage was done at home. Another option was for them to write a poem about a related experience. in encouragement. were required to write their journals and practised or shared with the class. students by the teacher through feedback in their journals. and many more. Journal writing has been widely promoted in teaching literature (Khatib et al. I have dreamt of my skinny Mom. 100 words. she called out to me. class. them to their personal experience (Knoeller. I have hoped that in my learning of English ■■ Creative writing As creative writing can be a highly beneficial I can have good scores for writing and listening. This was important as creative writing. In our context. using the questions writing after learning the poem by Robert Frost. after they had learned the poem in But the dream was far too short. My eyes were buried in full tears then. no friends.. The poems written by the students For these tasks. no relatives. Post-lesson stage 2009). Evidence of this task was recorded in Or in the darkness of the night. ‘Acquainted with the Difficulties’ In addition. 2003). 2003). These included the And no best wishes for me. creatively (Knoeller. encouraged to write their own poems. These journals were expected to include three Her smiling face and gentle voice. journals were used to record students’ perceptions of the texts they had read. Only profound sadness and many tears ■■ Journal writing For me and my terrible Tet here. and valued. 2011). following activities. Specifically. the process. experience. Assessment Various forms of assessment were used. Poems for Young Readers (Maley and Mukundan. in the evaluation part as a guide. their journals.. 2009) and Asian And come back home to see her again. so students knew that they were always expected to No rice. students were I have made promises with my dear Mom. Any poems or ‘creative’ responses of the students were acknowledged and encouraged After exploring the poem in depth. with their refined responses to the poem. It is thought I have lived through those sad rainy nights to be a beneficial way for students to express their When I missed my parents and siblings at home personal responses to literary works or to relate Whom I haven’t met for four years or more. including I have gone through Tet holidays alone. they were asked to find two other poems by Cao Thi Nhan either in English or Vietnamese related to the themes I have been acquainted with the difficulties of the poem and to identify how they were relevant to each other. in addition to doing extensive students knew that their efforts were appreciated reading. I have experienced endless nights When I found it impossible to sleep. aiming to cater for students’ No family. class participation. b) about 100 words to relate it to their own Looking at me with those loving eyes. students were asked to write down were often edited by the teacher. To facilitate That I’ll always live honestly and study well. I have lived through such long days. which were read by the teacher a few times without giving prior notice during the course. diverse abilities and interests. of further poems or short stories. and Words in Life (Maley et al. 146 |  Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context . they had to write about their thoughts or The following is an example of students’ creative experiences related to the poem. Those who could not find such poems I have walked those long roads to schools were allowed to find and copy down two other poems I have ridden my old bicycle that they liked and state why and what they liked In the boiling heat of the day about them.

were able to share their related experience or rather than to judge their work. promoted an open. write them down in their journals. the teacher was available for guidance what they liked or disliked about the poem and to and advice. writing scripts and (Knoeller.000 words each. It can develop their happy with this discovery. A summary of making up dialogue for them and preparing props 100 to 150 words was expected for each story. one story they liked. At the end of the course. identified as new or interesting to them. setting and poems that they liked. Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context  | 147 . rather than their voices in different ways. confidence (Maley and Duff. Prior to this and made them more comfortable with the subject. The storytelling task of the author in teaching literature in a way that required students to work in pairs to tell a story was not only enjoyable to the students but also of their choice. using fun − and working in bigger groups.. acting ability (the and developing their creativity. students had to show their response to the stories This chapter has shared some personal experience they had read or studied. facial expression. the misunderstanding that only highly intellectual ■■ Storytelling people can appreciate and produce literary texts Storytelling was one of the two alternatives that like poetry or stories. In addition.000 and 4.000 to 5. followed by about 100 words of their comments There was a lot of discussion. It can enhance their terms of motivation. Each performance The student journals show that each of them read was done with their best efforts and harmonious from eight to 14 additional stories of between co-operation among the team. 1993). students were often preparing their own props for a performance expected to find other poems in English or in which lasted from 15 to 30 minutes. One reason their self-esteem. 2010). self-esteem and confidence motivation by fostering their self-esteem and enhancement.000 words in the Graded Readers series creativity in building an image for a character. casting. students in addition to helping their English improvement worked on selecting scenes. students found that the different way of reading Dramatisation is a useful activity for students both could lend the poems some novelty and they were intellectually and emotionally. activity. stories. ■■ Extensive reading Those students who decided on dramatisation This activity aimed to nurture reading habits and were expected to give a performance based on thinking skills among students (Rashid et al. During this Vietnamese on the same themes and to identify process. Frequent feedback from the teacher It is crucial to instil in EFL students the love and the turned this into a dialogue between students and desire to learn literature in English so as to combat teacher about literature and personal experience. gestures) and the to be effective in changing the students’ thinking settings (props. The course seemed use of voice. In doing ■■ Dramatisation this. 2005). negotiation and on any aspects of the stories of their choice. The story delivery was assessed beneficial in enhancing their literary appreciation on the basis of their language. pairs. for setting up the scenes for their mini-drama. enabled them to get more help from others. available in the college library. they were encouraged to read stories from dressing up and experimenting with their 1. Even those who chose thinking skills and creativity by means of their not to read their works were allowed to read other experiences of scripting. the teacher created dramatisation activity and only those students opportunities for students to share their creative who did not have much time to prepare for the works with other students and teachers to boost mini dramas chose to do storytelling. For poetry. 2003). the teacher held one introductory session The students did not seem to feel intimidated by on storytelling techniques with video illustrations the lessons. pictures and music). They also jotted down questions about things that were not Conclusion clear to them. This was a great success in dialogue (Smith. Peer feedback and 2. the voice volumes and adding gestures. In reciting their poems. students was that students found dramatisation much more were encouraged to vary the ways they read. These literary appreciation by pointing out what they performances were a highlight of the course. exploratory and motivational Many fewer students chose storytelling than the style of learning. they teacher feedback was carried out to support. In preparation. varying the speeds. decision-making in the process. as our teaching and assessment to clarify the expectations of storytelling activity. Regarding short Students were found to really enjoy acting.

M. English Journal (High school edition) 92/5: 42–53. through guided discovery and informal classroom drama. H (2010) Literature teaching and learning at Another recommendation is to help students to the department of English Linguistics and Literature contribute their opinions to the course and increase at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Khatib. 148 |  Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context . literary works selected for EFL/ESL teaching a passion for their learning (Rashid et al. C (2003) Imaginative response: Teaching I adore it. V (eds) (2009) aims of the course. In addition.. students’ language levels. interest and maturity Maley. Mukundan. replicate any aspects of this course need to take Cambridge University Press. Malaysia: Pearson. S and Derakhshan. society. that the course could be relevant to students’ levels. they should be introduced to the students in themselves. English Journal (High school edition) 95/1: Literature is society 29–33. their life experience – and to unlock their own creativity. Literature in EFL/ESL classroom. suitable tasks for them to do. G (2005) Teaching literature and language that I’ve never come before. University of Social Sciences and rather than inhibit learning. Knoeller. that is in miniature. for students to choose the most Vietnam. to relate them by one of the students in the course. especially benefits of creative activities such as dramatisation their creativity. can be discovered and nurtured. English Language Teaching 4/1: 201–209. The course actually enriched students’ such a way that they can feel inspired to explore the lives (Cope. Perspectives. the course seemed to reinforce the As a result. J and Rai. Teacher’s Edition 3: 15–20. Therefore. promote. A (2011) I like literature. A and Duff. L (2011) Scaffolding middle school students’ an essential part of the teaching job in modern comprehension and response to short stories. literature through creative writing. should be offered. Furthermore. 4/2: 21–33. B (2000) Learning and enjoying literature in English. their autonomy in learning. and in this way they can maximise their abilities in fulfilling the tasks. and interesting Cope. it is crucial British Culture and Literature from Vietnamese to remember that assessment is there to support. and love Literature is a teacher adolescent literature: Confessions of a college who teaches me life skills. 2005) – and such. J (1998) Why I teach. Literature leads to places DeBlase. J (eds) (2009) Asian Poems levels into consideration. and creative writing as they provided students with In short. Nguyen. to appreciate them. ‘I like literature’ by Hoang thi Thuy Duong I like literature References It’s beautiful Baurain. decides the success of the course. Specifically. A. as these are part of the Paper presented at the Seminar on American and long-term goals in teaching. and to enrich. students should be put at the centre in setting the Maley. I love it. Voices from the Middle 5/2: 7–9. 1998) as in the following poem produced texts themselves. A (2005) Drama Techniques. Therefore. Rezaei. November 2010. The EFL Journal That’s necessary for my life. Kathmandu: for materials selection and methods of teaching so Bhundipuran Prakashan. A and Mukundan. English professor. Bagbazar. Literature brings experience Dagnew. creativity for a specific group for a specific subject in a specific context. any attempt to Maley. Ho Chi Minh City. to. which would serve as the basis Life in Words and Words in Life. this was just one way to enhance students’ RMLE Online 34/8: 1–16. students’ different abilities. diverse tasks Humanities. T (2013) A model for integrating literature and language teaching in Ethiopia. As developing students’ creativity is considered Liang. As a desire to discover literature (DeBlase. 2010) and and learning are valuable works of creativity. because it is this which for Young Readers.

She also received some training in teaching about British culture and literature in England. S (2010) Approaches employed by teachers in teaching literature to less proficient students in Form 1 and Form 2. Besides working as a TESOL Teacher Educator for over 35 years in Vietnam. M and Rahman. P (1993) Interpreters theatre: A tool for teaching literature. she has published and presented on various issues in teacher education and applied linguistics in many different countries. syllabus design and assessment. Smith. Rashid. She has been in the USA as a Fulbright Scholar doing research on teacher educators’ feedback. MA in Applied Linguistics and Diploma in TESOL). English Language Teaching 3/4: 87–99. Phuong thi Anh Le was educated mainly in Australia (Doctor of Education. English Journal (High school edition) 82/7: 71–72. Vethamani. Her current research interests include teacher training. R. She joined the Asian Teacher-Writer Group in 2010. Fostering learners’ voices in literature classes in an Asian context  | 149 .

our ■■ spontaneity friends and family. people such as Ella Fitzgerald with her fabulous ‘A creative lesson is one that involves one or more vocal improvisation skills.’ ways that we language teachers can become more creative in our own work with learners. We don’t even have to try. the environment. 150 |  A framework for learning creativity . We don’t have to do ■■ variety anything. developing of original ideas. in a new way. The rest must have come easy ‘Creativity is the bringing into existence. painting.’ in the mind of an individual person. to them. And it ignores the everyday of the following: creativity we see in our children. we can walk along. It ignores too the work of those in the more popular from ‘inside’ their own experience. This way. In fact we may ■■ fun be afraid to try. We can give ourselves permission to learn. whether they are within To define a word we can go to outside or inside the field of music. And if we ask fellow language teachers what they and any creative collaboration between people. we start a path ■■ a balance between challenge and security. So that’s it. It can involve a change in the condition of something. It ignores the heart and emotions. names of some basic questions. the body. sometimes with ■■ personal meaning others. with clever minds and destined for amazing accomplishments. would regard as a creative lesson. Here is a definition of creativity from we imagine they were quite simply born that ‘outside’. ■■ humour My own view is different. a well-known elite like Leonardo da Vinci. You will want to add ingredients of your own to the list. We call these and others First. mathematics or science. it lets us off the hook. spliced together from several dictionaries: way. After all. In this chapter then. I believe that we can ■■ movement redefine what it means to be creative. what does it mean to create? like them ‘geniuses’ and. we must therefore not ■■ colour be creative geniuses. say… arts. they might. we need to consider men in the Western high arts and sciences. ■■ music creative men in the high arts. and ourselves. or a novel combination of the known It encourages us to concentrate on what happens that produces interesting and useful results. to be even more creative in our everyday ■■ unpredictability lives than we are already. Worse yet. our students. sources. Beethoven and Vincent van Gogh. we have a To break away from the unfortunate thought tendency perhaps to call to mind solitary. the use of something This way of thinking has a number of disadvantages. causing. I will suggest relaxation and tension. 16 A framework for learning creativity Tessa Woodward Introduction Brief background questions When we think of creative individuals. if we are not ourselves lone. we may think. eminent pattern mentioned above.

who were. necessarily. singing together or known as X-rays. pebble by pebble. Röentgen. who ■■ Listening to a recording of birdsong. we might say without too much thought new at all (Woodward. film makers and How can we and our students become choreographers about how they felt when working more creative? creatively. so as variety. Once they can do that. (The Tusa interviews can be found at: How can we go about it? There follow some practical http://www. a little more concretely. painters. Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician what activities in our everyday lives make us feel who suggested the outrageous practice of doctors creative. though it may be hard Others said they felt lonely. creative too. or felt they were building more creative and to help our students become something painstakingly slowly. We can speed up this persecuted for their ideas. a nor. when John principles widely agreed upon by many of those interested in creativity. we can all come up with an extremely wide washing their hands before delivering babies. making. that it felt very. some said they felt worried. that the act of creating feels wonderful. the four modes of: doing. ostracised or that is useful can happen. playwrights. at least initially. the product of creativity is always welcomed. does it feel good to create? is even possible. readying process by doing unusual things such as: The German physicist. adapting and So there are many different possible reactions to creating (Sanders. 2002). feels easy. And if any of us is asked. late. isn’t it? Practical principles Not really! We may as well assume that all babies are welcomed. challenge them to miss out saying two numbers (three and five). very risky. a new idea. sculptors. to denial that the new idea By the way. it will bring interesting and useful results. ‘cooking to avoid the spread of purple fever. or coming too early or too At the start of class we all need to come together. to dismissing the idea for not being If asked. believing that. subject of conversation. clap eight times again but miss out actually saying the number three. 2005). for example. musicians. doing some first produced and detected in the lab the rays now gentle physical exercises. being Wake up! unexpected. It takes concentration! A framework for learning creativity  | 151 .co. So we need not expect to feel great while we create free as a breeze. The reaction of dinner’. showed her an X-ray of her hand! And his whole ■■ Asking students to count from one to eight and to endeavour was initially declared by the scientific clap as they say each number out loud. when we know that some are not. to immediately embracing or taking against an idea. such as ‘cleaning out cupboards’. interviewed our creations! over 50 established actors. I once identified some twenty different All this gives us a refreshing and optimistic view kinds of reactions. ‘singing a new harmony to an old song on the the medical community to his idea was so hostile radio’ or ‘making a new pump for the central heating that he had a nervous breakdown and died in an boiler’! These concrete examples usually fall within insane asylum. unwanted. freaked his wife out when he enjoying the scent of pine oil. The world too has always been full of creative settle and become mentally alert before much people. to be lauded by our colleagues for BBC radio and television journalist. architects. Then three numbers (two and six and eight) while still clapping the eight times. others that But let’s suppose that we are still keen to become they couldn’t sleep. work. Next. they community to be an elaborate hoax. However. These range from changing the of what we are aiming at.

emotion. to switch metaphors. they usually stop complaining! 152 |  A framework for learning creativity . Although at first glance quota of ideas. An example is ‘Think of minutes to check their environment and to list as the English alphabet written in capital letters. ■■ Giving the students a puzzle that is easily solvable ■■ Invite students to choose a colour. ‘If you ask a normal conceptually blending two or more apparently person to find a needle in a haystack. used to add a new angle. in class. to go for quantity and not this. it causes for all the possible needles!’ mental sparks! So. then you can start to sort them out and decide weak or weird but which can later be improved or which ones you want to keep. Ask students to come So. you might: We don’t know how Einstein felt about the implication ■■ Invite students to discuss how a text that they that he was not normal but he certainly shared an have got to know quite well can be compared and immense productivity with all kinds of creative people! contrasted to an apparently unrelated picture you have chosen to show them. when going for greater productivity like large number of ideas. Or. the physicist and philosopher. we need to produce a Naturally. Once the pool of contributions ideas and also to include ideas that may at first seem is in. the ■■ Invite students to consider an everyday object mind. put it up to 15. number. okay then. I. will search for some kind such as a sock and to dream up 20 things they of connection. apart from protecting a foot. Juxtaposition of the would stop when they found the needle. judgement until later and refrain from too much self- This enables us to note down even the most obvious and other correction. the person unrelated ideas or things. letter B? Eight hobbies beginning with P? Twelve things that make them happy? Be prolific! Once we are all awake. When they complain about the number. are allowed to use pencil and paper to solve this ■■ Can students think of ten words beginning with the puzzle. Some ideas follow on how to do this. (See Woodward 2011: 61). could use it for. the text and the picture will seem unrelated. Then share the lists. would tear the haystack apart looking thinking ruts. on the normally separated helps to jolt us out of our other hand. It just gets them thinking (and visualising). Give them five by just doing a little work. Twenty!’ When students realise that every time they complain the number goes up. was once Make unusual connections and combinations asked: ‘What’s the difference between you and a A classic creativity principle is the idea of normal person?’ He said in reply. being what it is. topic or meaning. the principle is to go for abundance ourselves up with as many ways as they can in which the text and to encourage our students to produce a full and the picture are alike. be it in terms of colour. shape. Anecdote reports that Einstein. you and the students will need to defer to worry at first about judging the ideas for quality. ■■ Ask students to write ten true sentences about what they did at the weekend. How many things they can see (and think of) that have many letters have curved lines in them?’ Students that colour. –– ‘What? Fifteen!’ –– ‘Oh.

The comparisons can be expressed in the form of a Venn diagram as below: I brush my teeth goes barefoot We’re both mammals. ■■ Each group of students then selects one possibility from beneath each main heading and sets to work to create a story combining. For example. though very simple and easy to use. with a cat. or ‘I prefer bananas’ yesterday. underneath variations.’ brainstorm and write up different possible Students write this sentence down. a skateboard or a tablet computer. carrying out a robbery. to your board. An example might be. 2011: 89–90) ■■ Remind students of the main ingredients of any Here’s another simple generative framework for story. in the ice age. Beijing. of them not you. they have to rewrite it so that it is true could offer: the moon. And that is just for starters! A framework for learning creativity  | 153 . ‘I like apples. true about yourself. characters. actions. a dinosaur. or ‘I only like sweet apples’. my dad’s garage. you could go to work via a different route and a different form of transport every day. etc. a princess. Write these up on the a simple sentence. for example. Thus they might write ‘I like apples or an armpit. in 3015. Take the maxim ‘Find out what you usually do and then do something different!’ If you followed it. theme. wearing unusual colours and with your watch on upside down and your jumper back to front. a teenage girl. time. It’s called an ‘alteration dictation’. in the Ice Age. are incredibly productive. such as a tiger. and so on. place. students. Under each of these main headings. like Me sleeping and A tiger swimming and can make a lot of noise! I wear trainers doesn’t brush its teeth (See Woodward. Use simple generative frameworks Some frameworks. Under ‘Time’ you might get: too’. important class. Dictate objects. Next. under ‘Place’ students that sentence. Share the results.g. ■■ Ask students to come up with the similarities and differences between themselves and something they are interested in. in her dad’s garage. e.

posters. to put it into to be creative will encourage us to engage in the practice. for example. the street ourselves physically too. ask students to team Dictionary A doormat up with a partner and explore three things they have in common with each other and three things Students choose one object from the list on the left that are different. school. smells and sounds. In pairs. myth of the lone genius! being prolific. So here are a few ideas designed to work on these important areas. you can give students two lists of work. Something like these: environment is conducive to our doing. such help them to extend and refine the idea with them in as ‘Raise your left arm’. can you import flip charts or cork boards? Can you Chair A T-shirt get a view from a window to somewhere or Sun cream A camera something natural? ■■ To break down feelings of isolation and Pencil A bottle of perfume competition among students. Computer Hammock ■■ To improve the environment. It is true. and the body. If people collaborated with Michelangelo on the Sistine we and our students feel comfortable. ‘Neither of do. invention and put it in a class sales catalogue if you like! (See Woodward 2011: 146–7). These six things must not be and one from the list on the right and combine them visible! So. clean the where they are. more and broader Laurentian Library in Florence. to give out handouts. ■■ The whole idea of novel combinations is itself a A positive state of mind and the permission and time simple generative framework. So a wearer might be able to change the colour us…’. I suggested that our traditional view of a Don’t forget the heart. Or they could type different slogans onto the front and back of the ■■ Give students a good reason to get up from T-shirt in different font styles. ‘Turn around once’. It helps if we can move around and express everyday objects from home. So. creative person as a lone genius ignores the role of and the environment the conversation and collaboration that undoubtedly We have started off by looking at principles that takes place between them and their colleagues. whether we are waking up. making. order to make it even better. Fridge Picture adapting and creating. of a computerised T-shirt depending on what else 2011: 178). that 13 creativity is also profoundly affected by emotion. ‘One of us… but the other…’ (See Woodward. and so on. or their desks and move around by asking them. however. making unusual connections or using simple generative frameworks. and it helps if our work and so on. display a street view to a companion so they know for example. each student board. If they wish. can you adjust the Bedroom Music temperature. lighting and air flow in your class Window Bar of chocolate room so it is more pleasant? Use coloured paper sometimes? Bring in plants. that Historians have discovered. Chapel and that 200 people assisted him with the and are having an enjoyable time. noting your partner’s hair in any order. ‘A computerised T-shirt’. colours and sizes. 154 |  A framework for learning creativity . encourage mental creativity. They can even draw the ‘Tickle your chin’. a student might come up with a colour and whether they wear glasses or not ‘Computer T-shirt’. Collaborate and share At the start. So. Next. for example. and secure. they were wearing that day. and physical Garden A cup of coffee objects? Can you use the walls for display? If not. they can change it to doesn’t count! Once the interviews are under way. open a window or do total physical explains their new invention to a partner who has to response exercises to learn vocabulary. and so on. So there goes our ideas will tend to flow. they think what this students write sentences about their pair using new invention of theirs might look like and be able to starter phrases such as. ‘Both of us…’. calming or Ticket Pillow inspiring colours.

but it is an especially Allow yourself and students to work together. so Don’t interrupt. physical tableaux. or simply stopping trying so hard. work together to gain a bigger and bigger total together as well as to learn more about what These flexible and adaptable means enable you makes a city a capital. means doing it! mess-making. e. in a different. But you anybody to see ideas emerge. ■■ The final phase is relax. etc. Creativity takes time. This last idea is sometimes individual offerings. can be moved around so associations triggered multiplies. create. can also add incentives for those who come up and then see them shot down or ignored. When people come together. to question. They might come up with ideas such as: say what you think honestly and also why you think The three-phase creativity cycle it.g. especially their own. fishbone reward the student who comes up with a city that diagrams. taking a break or doing something pieces of paper used to record their ideas. Once we have practised. clay models. thus on all the ideas that come up. So what tips are there for this aspect of creativity? Make our thinking physical and visible ■■ Foster a culture of participation in your classes. priorities. stimulating. you can to end up with lots of ideas. So. We can practise being necessary for good collaboration. ■■ The second phase is reflect. A framework for learning creativity  | 155 . consider ‘Athens’). classifications. Refrain from arguing or trying to change students to feel and be more creative. extend the ideas finally I would like to offer the well-known idea of of others. Lego blocks. ‘Accra’ and As well as your normal note-taking methods. for example. recording devices to capture. Accept that the other person has different These seven principles will certainly help us and our views. game where students try to come up with names This is because. fail and learn from this. the student then reflected. we need to relax or ‘switch off’ by. access to creative by trying out the ideas above. It is demotivating for rewarding the usual speed and accuracy. allow thinking time and silent time also in groups or teams. You therefore need reward the first person to come up with. especially if your room is cramped. lists. collective that groups can see and comment on what other creativity often gives us more than the sum of our groups have produced. and together. The solving of problems –– time to review. wikis and spelled. You can also the use of Venn diagrams. mind maps. some privacy and quiet reflection. even if they are not capitals or well photos. Here we need: ■■ Try different arrangements of people and space depending on what you are doing. sticky or nobody else thinks of (say ‘Asmara’) and magnetic notes that can be moved around and encourage the student who comes up with other clustered. students. to consider what you have produced together. Practice shared content. using these principles. organise and capitalise ‘Amsterdam’ as long as they can spell it. support for a range of moods such as playful. and where these countries are. Reflection means thinking about what we have done. You can encourage the whole class to columns in good old-fashioned notebooks. known as a ‘pass the paper’ or ‘carousel’ activity. take important one if your class has been working risks. unusual cities. take notes and can be done by having different problems at talk things over so that we can decide on different tables and asking groups of students to selection. the number of discussion for example. say. refinements work on one problem at one table for a while and applications of the ideas we have all come before moving to a new table and a new problem. up with. so rewarding the prolific. however. steps. both alone their mind even if they are very different from you. So. scales. collages. Instead of moving groups of students about. ■■ You can also discuss the social conditions ■■ The first phase is practice. So in a board collaboratively on any of the other principles above. groups can stay in the same places but the large for example. This is our last principle. listen carefully. you are likely of capital cities starting with the letter ‘A’. serious. which countries the cities and the group to make your thinking visible and are in. ■■ Encourage good conversations by discussing the You can then collaborate further to prioritise. –– to allow wait-time after questions and after brainstorming can be done as a whole class but answers. refine ground rules for a good conversation with or extend ideas. a three-phase creativity cycle. posters displayed on walls. with more than one example (say. formal and informal.

we can create. Paper presented at the Proceedings P for physical movement of the 6th International Conference of the European E for environment and emotions Academy of Design. Bremen. For many W for wake up of the principles and insights within the chapter. At the start of this chapter. 13–14. and that we need not even try. Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! No. we redefine creativity to include the by having a snooze. work out then relax. One way of relaxing after a creative session then is If. the new and different. reflect on what we have done.maketools. So maybe a mnemonic Thanks to the editors of this collection for inviting would help. R (ed) Enhancing the Army’s Strategic Thinking Capability: I came up with this one: Insights to Assess. H. Germany. 156 |  A framework for learning creativity . Gnome. we probably won’t their ideas for walks’. C for collaborate References S for share Michalko. so ‘taking on our feet in the classroom. P for prolific however. In order to be more creative. I am most grateful to Michael Michalko and Elizabeth Sanders. you can always murmur that you are merely and then relax. shared over the last twenty years with language teachers and students all over the world. So. London: Methuen. accomplished report of a study in fact). Chapter 9 in Welters. memorable sentence. The three phases of Practice. first from the outside (a newspaper somehow only ‘belonged’ to lone. allowing people to find solutions to puzzles we humble teachers nor our students can be creative that had eluded them before they slept. Then we can make words that start with these letters and then move the words around to make a Sanders. and classic principles of creativity above. E (2012) ‘Creativity in Strategic Thinking’. Inspiration and Co-creation. This gave me the Let’s play! We can take the first letter of some ‘permission’ and incentive to represent work I have of the ideas in this chapter. T (2002) Carrot ice cream: reactions to Relax are easy. e. taking the time to complete your three-phase If we remember to include collective creativity too creativity cycle! by working with other staff and by encouraging our When we are planning our lessons and thinking students to collaborate with each other. however. for we do advise anybody trying to that is part of all of our lives – if we give ourselves make a difficult decision to ‘Sleep on it!’. Develop. J (2004) On creativity: Interviews exploring the with some better ones! process. I suggested that to define Conclusion a word or concept we can turn to ‘outside’ or ‘inside’ The old way of thinking about creativity was that it resources. we may surprise ourselves at have this chapter with us to remind us of some how creative we all are and become! classic creativity techniques. making. USA: Ten Speed Press. University of Arts. Available online at: www. The Teacher Trainer Vol. a nap. our internal wisdom knew everyday doing. A and Hinds. and Retain Strategic We Produce More New Useful Cool Stuff if we Vary Thinkers. We can get to know the in this chapter. I learned that researchers geniuses in the high status arts and pure sciences. there we have it. M (1998) Cracking Creativity Berkeley. And if a colleague happens to find you our own adaptations of them to our work. Well. have found that sleeping helps to stimulate creative This may perhaps have led us to think that neither thinking. adapting and creating that anyway. N for novel combinations California. E (2005) Information.g. me to contribute a chapter. articles-papers/Sanders2012Creativity. Reflect and Rest or Woodward. V for visible Sanders. reflect on what we have done. They make us purr like a cat. They have collaborated with M for make unusual combinations us all by sharing their thoughts in the published U for use simple generative frameworks works referred to below. So. Canterbury: Pilgrims. don’t we? time and space and permission to play with this. to work on this.pdf But I’ll keep working on it and see if I can come up Positions in English Exercises. A possible path to we can practise the seven principles described greater creativity exists.16. practise in the staffroom with your head on your desk having these adaptations.

org A framework for learning creativity  | 157 . She also edits The Teacher Trainer Journal for Pilgrims. was short-listed for an English Speaking Union prize. on creative thinking). Tessa is also the founder of The Fair List: www. She is a Past President and International Ambassador of IATEFL and founded the IATEFL Special Interest Group for Teacher Trainers (now the SIG TT/Ed). Woodward. UK. Her latest book. Helbling Languages). Canterbury. Innsbruck. Kent. She is the author of many books and articles for language teachers and for teacher trainers. with Seth Lindstromberg. Austria: Helbling Languages. T (2011) Thinking in the EFL Class (pp 149–189. and the Professional Development Co-ordinator at Hilderstone College. Tessa Woodward is a teacher. Something to Say (2014.thefairlist. teacher trainer. Broadstairs. UK.

Used wisely. For the first two years. doing. the it can naturally bring a lot of benefits to today’s British Council and Peace Corps started training schools but unfortunately. years. workshops. Both drama and creative writing. Similar to other central and eastern European A brief background to the development of countries. above all. which order to lead to both the linguistic and personal and has since worked to promote free. original thinking. this is not always available and/or the teachers was the main focus of the training courses. and still is. Its latest project is the creativity contest receptive and productive skills as well as their ‘Speak Out’. Its work together? Drama is basically action. drama have access to it. more available alternative) in (Educational Drama Association in Romania). and so is creative writing. thus blending a deeper understanding of or reflection on the drama and creative writing. They can also offer monologues and short stories. festivals. before 2001 Romania had basically educational drama (and creative writing) in Romania witnessed drama work only as the result of individual might prove useful in understanding how these two initiatives. increases the Sometimes modern technology can be incorporated opportunities of Romanian students to participate as well. activities students are involved in. Why drama and creative writing. which has two sections: dramatic creativity and critical thinking. contests. 17 Drama and creative writing: a blended tool Victoria Hlenschi-Stroie Introduction low-resourced environment. but we compensate without Tears’ (Călimăneşti. 2002) and ‘Creative Writing and It is clear that educational drama and creative Drama Advanced Practicum Summer School’ (Braşov. in developing countries teachers of English from Romania and neighbouring like Romania. drama techniques are frequently used 158 |  Drama and creative writing: A blended tool . drama and creative writing give interested in using drama and creative writing in ample tools to teachers to develop their students’ schools. but it has also triggered an ongoing year 2001 marked a real breakthrough in this area. ‘Exploring through with a lot of energy. educational drama years. drama camps. As last year brought in the creative writing component a result. creative ideas and enthusiasm. At present. These courses – ‘Drama few materials or little equipment. Drama and creative writing techniques and activities had already been The digital age has brought state-of-the-art devices a component of many teacher training courses and gadgets which are supposed to improve the and seminars in post-communist Romania. who want to create an effective network of those Used together. debate as to whether this technology is killing or In a joint project which spanned three consecutive boosting the creativity of our students. but without excluding those who may not in drama and creative writing activities. teachers of English country that was. social development of the students. but the learning process. 2001). while the are not fully prepared to make the best use of it. of Education. Drama’ (Năvodari. necessarily replacing the use of technology but The year 2001 also marked the foundation of EDAR offering a cheaper. where I have been a teacher for 17 countries. struggling to introduce have been using drama in a more confident way. The Ministry of Education in Romania. days. EDAR is a non-governmental to the English class and the main sources of all this organisation officially recognised by the Ministry are the teacher’s and the students’ creative ideas. modern and innovative ideas in an ex-communist. community pro-active attitudes creative writing bring a lot of resources and energy and performing arts. we sometimes have to make do with very as a welcome addition. and how do they creative writing publications and much more. members are teachers of English from Romania engaging and improvising. But since the start of the 2001–03 project approaches have developed and taken shape in a and the foundation of EDAR. writing can be applied in the educational systems 2003) – were followed by local training offered by of developing and low-resourced countries (not the participants in these courses. which.

which are the writing activities is no easy task. Having the suggestions for drama activities with creative writing opportunity to participate in all three courses of the follow-ups should be regarded as just one resource above-mentioned project. translating them into their endeavour to standardise their work and find their native language if necessary (but not too often). They also help enrich vocabulary. especially Dr Peter Harrop and Senior These can be used at the beginning of the lesson Lecturer Jane Loudon from the University of Chester. the students activities that are guaranteed to work any time with introduce themselves. in Romania. of a friend/desk-mate. In either case. careful planning in order to be successful. This is one of the beauties of drama and creative writing: continuous Name game reinvention and personalisation. and dedicating a lot of my teaching and prove useful for both beginner and more research time to drama and creative writing. drama Example: and creative writing require a very clear purpose and –– I’m victorious Victoria and I like victories. on the one hand. Some activities the same letter. level and name and also something they like beginning with needs of a specific group of students. adding to their name an any group of students. while others need minimal material resources. or school year or when the class starts to lose or discovered through my reading of books and concentration. teachers of English interested in drama With lower level students I tried to simplify the activities still have a long way to go. need practically no materials. especially in instructions for the activities. tips and resources which have either been offered by our Warm-ups and games trainers. seeing what pronunciation. I have reinvented myself as a teacher and I have personalised the This is a name/’getting to know each other’ and activities to suit the groups of students I was vocabulary game. I hope they will of EDAR. However. any individual teacher to select whatever activities they think might work with their students and adapt ■■ This could be a good beginning for a description them in any way they think fit. Drama and creative writing: A blended tool   | 159 . a place for drama in the curriculum. while with more advanced students I tried to empower them and even allow them to run drama Readers of this book will mostly be interested and creative writing activities themselves. works and improving what doesn’t. workshops or festivals (drama as an event). and there are others that adjective beginning with the same letter as their need to be adapted according to the age. whose level of English basically and teachers employ drama in organising clubs. so this will be the main rationale Trying to select and organise drama and creative behind the activities proposed here. Using them together with my practise grammar structures and improve students. with the occasional elementary or advanced student. It is up to –– I’m ambitious Alice and I like apples. ranged from pre-intermediate to upper-intermediate. collected a number of useful activities. there are ■■ Standing or sitting in a circle. The following result of ongoing activity over 13 years. working with. I have experienced teachers. I have developed them. in the regular English classes (drama and ELT). Procedure I have found that. Starting from the given sentence. being one of the founders among the many others in existence. in learning how drama and creative writing can be used in ELT. internet websites. drama During my career I have mostly worked with teenage can be proposed as an elective (drama as a subject) students aged 14–19. students can write a description of that person.

■■ Then students take turns to say sentences containing things they have never done in their Procedure life.g. activate passive vocabulary Procedure and lead to the acquisition of new vocabulary. hobbies. giving any answer except what have to be true and they should think of things it is they are actually doing (e. One starts miming done that (i. one of which instructions and following them. or in ■■ A possible follow-up would be asking students the follow-up discussion. one lie in the advert to make the guesses more complicated. This is a trust game which also involves giving brothers/sisters. thus enlivening the English class and textbook.g. nice writing activity depending on the activities chosen by the students. pets. students Blindfolded write some things about themselves (year of birth. 160 |  Drama and creative writing: A blended tool . Procedure ■■ The teacher hides an object. been to the seaside).). ■■ A group of students (the silent chorus) can move but not talk. games and exercises or practising the present perfect as well. I encouraged them to insert who has to find the object. Truths and lies ■■ The game ends when all students have dropped all fingers and the winners are the last students This is a ‘getting to know each other’ game. brushing their teeth) and drop one finger.’ If the other students have ■■ Students stand in a circle. are doing. It could be something like ‘Never have I been to the seaside. ■■ Students should be instructed that the sentences ■■ They respond. instructions (e. etc. This is a ‘getting to know each other’ game. if sentences are used instead of notes. Procedure ■■ On a sticky note provided by the teacher. straight ahead. At home or in class students write a short ■■ One student cannot see (he has been blindfolded) personal advert. aimed at introducing Different drama activities.e. ■■ A good follow-up would be to ask students to write down instructions to find hidden objects in the class (this could be a good preparation for setting Never have I ever up a treasure hunt). the chorus can see ■■ The teacher displays them or collects and reads where the object is and they make gestures to them out loud and the students have to guess direct the student who can talk and who gives who the author is. they have to a simple action (e. can be used to practise even the most unpopular grammar structures. ‘I’m sweeping they haven’t done but the others might have done. This game is suitable for groups of around 15 students but if there are more students in the class Grammar and vocabulary they can be divided into groups. to write a short paragraph/story starting with the words: ‘Never have I ever’. as to stay in the game as much as possible. One student facing the group can talk Personal advert but not move. It can to have any fingers showing. helped by the other students. students take turns to say things they have never done. The game begins Not doing what I’m doing with students raising one hand so that the others see five fingers (or both hands so as to show This activity is aimed at practising vocabulary and ten fingers if you have more time to spend on the ‘present continuous’ tense. ■■ Sitting in a circle. behind/under the table) to the blindfolded student ■■ On one occasion. the floor’).g. ■■ Walking around the room they read each other’s Procedure notes and try to figure out which one is the lie. and has to find an object. The student who asked the question because their aim is to make the other students then starts miming this new action (i.e. now having four fingers up and the person to their right asks them what they one down. to the left/right. is a lie. also be used to reinforce vocabulary and the present simple. sweeping drop their fingers while they keep theirs up so the floor). It can lead to a very the activity).

for example. L: reading a letter. with one student standing inside the rotating a lamp). ■■ The person to the right asks what they are doing Snake pit and the process is repeated. more circles). un-freeze and utter their hidden thoughts. ■■ They can write up what they said as a follow-up ■■ When the teacher touches their shoulders. ‘Where are you going?’ ‘What kind of meeting do It is crucial in improvisation for the teacher to you have to attend?’ ‘Are you in danger of losing make sure the students use only English during the your job?’ improvisation stage and do not resort to their mother ■■ The student-in-role will improvise the answers. which ■■ Students stand in a circle (if there are more than must be the initials of whatever actions they 15 students in your class you may choose to form choose (e. is variety of attitudes onto a particular script and add to practise if clauses) is to ask your students to meaning to it. already know. which means that they have been bitten. The game can be played with other represents a platform at the railway station. circle and relating the daily routine of someone they know very well. the class should hiss like snakes. the teacher can give the situation. they might add some lines in order to develop the situation further. Drama and creative writing: A blended tool   | 161 . structures: conditional and subjunctive. the to the story. Procedure If I lose my job…’ ■■ Students are given a neutral script (any dialogue that does not reveal too much about the characters or the situation) and they have to act it out after deciding who they are.g. e. then a subjunctive (e. I can still make it Role-play cards and/or improvisation situations can to the meeting. ■■ The students can then write down the story which has been sketched by adding other details Neutral script as they wish. like articles (a ‘bite’ for each article ■■ They must stand completely still. I wish I had caught the other train. first using a conditional. The students who are confident ■■ The students can then choose a character enough in the language may go straight into the (i. Procedure ■■ Each student chosen has two minutes to survive ■■ The students stand in a designated area which the snake pit. where the action takes place and what the circumstances are. If Improvisation and creative writing the train comes in five minutes. Those who are less skilled will have ■■ Sitting in a circle with the chosen character in to go through a complete process of reviewing and the middle. Hidden thoughts ■■ Whenever they omit the –s ending of third person The aim of this activity is to practise grammar singular verbs. the teacher gives Procedure the students two letters of the alphabet. ‘If I don’t make it to the meeting I’ll definitely lose my job. while the teacher touches them. students ask them questions such as preparing the language involved in the situation.g. This activity gives students the opportunity to put a ■■ An alternative (if your purpose.g. This activity helps students practise grammar structures with a writing follow-up. R. forming a frozen omitted) and past-tense narratives (a ‘bite’ for tableau representing people waiting for a train each incorrect verb). riding a llama. or they can end it whenever appropriate.e. three bites are fatal. be given to students to ensure a meaningful context If I had caught the other train…). they activity. tongue. structures. which is delayed. The improvisation can be carried out in pairs thus developing the character and adding details or in groups. ■■ The second time they perform it. Variation ■■ To make the game more difficult. write sentences using if clauses. beginning line(s) and also the ending. one person waiting on the platform) they improvisation in an effort to practise what they find interesting and develop their story. for communication.

I want to talk to you! woman hurrying to work. a child who has been hiding from ■■ If no one is willing to concede. initiating a dialogue which will usually groups of four). B. I’m not happy with the way things are going… policeman. to start the conversation. If you have more groups B. Apart from giving students the end when a solution has been found. if the level of a fashion agency. my students is the following: Two tourists get lost in London and try to find A. the students receive an opening line to objective perspectives on a certain problem that start a conversation (e. 162 |  Drama and creative writing: A blended tool .g. ■■ Students receive a situation and they have to See Maley and Duff (1979) Variations on a Theme. etc. stories). Well…. This activity is suitable for pairs or groups. It’s time we did. depending on the needs of the students. ■■ The activity can then be followed by a writing Procedure activity (letters. the teacher can give them a context (e. I’m trying! ■■ The improvisation ends when they meet a B. this one can offer ■■ The teacher stops them when the conversation a lot of material for stories. A.g. and you suspect his intentions. Procedure ■■ This will give them both the subjective and the ■■ In pairs. for Situational cues example. their way by stopping different people (a busy B. necessary skills to cope in real-life situations. and for the second. Let’s forget it! then the characters will be instructed to enter the A. aunt column or an article on the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a fashion model. reason that is powerful enough to convince If there are students who seem reluctant or unable the others. an agony- activity. The improvisation ends after five students to say whatever crosses their mind and minutes or when one of the motorists finds a not be afraid to change the course of the dialogue. ■■ The students then improvise a conversation based Role-play cards around the opening line. because you are very suspicious of the are formulated in such a way as to give them the world of fashion. Not now! school. The teacher can also give them ■■ An example of such a neutral script that I use with the end point. Procedure depending on the number of characters involved. The examples below are suitable for groups (for the ■■ Each student receives a card and tries to act first one.) and asking for directions. this Mother: your daughter wants to be a model is a good activity to generate ideas for a story or and goes for an interview with the manager of even a solution-to-problems essay. Look. mother to manager – formal letter). a teenager going to A. letter writing (daughter writing to a friend – informal ■■ This activity can also be followed by a writing letter. ‘There you are! I’ve been requires a reasonable solution in life. Beginning line Four motorists arrive at the same parking This is an activity suitable for students who already space at the same time and each declares have enough vocabulary to be able to have a free reasons why they should be allowed to conversation. looking for you everywhere!’). the improvisation their parents because of a bad mark) or provide stops after five minutes and the students may a new opening line – maybe an easier one. You insist on accompanying the students is higher and the situational clues her. improvise on it. You don’t trust the manager opportunity to come up with such solutions. Is this my fault? ■■ The teacher will send in different characters and in the end the policeman. No. discursive essays or slows down. A. accordingly. groups of five to six. dialogues. The teacher should encourage park there. diary pages. discuss out of character how such a situation could be solved. Similar to the previous activity. I don’t want to forget it! scene in turns.

■■ One variation of the chain story which my students Conclusion really like involves flipping a coin. Once they are familiar with the drama conventions. next day. Freeze frame Daughter: you want to be a model. is photogenic. accompanying you. drama conventions and the instructions Procedure given will be chosen according to the aim of the ■■ Sitting in a circle. but your mother insists on a story reading. for example. best. With younger students. story at home or they can read it together with their teacher in class. Manager: you are the manager of a modelling ■■ In the next step the teacher will touch each and fashion agency. But you are (touch-and-tell). I try to include very as complex human beings. The students can read the can play in shaping the world. even more. but children learn interesting and fun. If the student Some teachers and especially head teachers whose turn it is to continue the story gets heads. You are sure you could get the job with this agency. Drama can both celebrate and Drama conventions and storytelling challenge the values of a society. if only your Procedure mother didn’t interfere all the time! ■■ After reading the text.g. Applying drama in education activities. You have an interview with the manager of a Here is an activity that can be used to follow up fashion agency. while with older ones any short story or short the part they are responsible for and the part they literary text can be used. If they get tails. ‘Oh. might see drama as a useless. Drama and creative writing: A blended tool   | 163 . second with B. the Different variations of the chain story can be used. own story. words fortunately/unfortunately). given by the teacher. I found that reading in class first is a powerful motivation for students to start reading in English at home as well. Detractors may also random suggestions to make the story more state that drama is just playing. students work in groups to tell the story in three to four still images (freeze frames) and also add sounds (soundscapes). which can be based on a beginning to practise. that apple need to take some photographs to see if she looks delicious’. or a fortunately/unfortunately story be used when creating a story starting from a variety (each sentence beginning alternately with the of stimuli. in the morning). ■■ The text. familiarising students with drama conventions so questioning the world as it is and seeing how it as to be able to use them later on in other class can be improved. by playing as it helps them make sense of their experiences. would only interest students with artistic qualities. The girl is very beautiful and they have to say something that reveals who they you have a job you could offer her. fairy tales work helps students to understand themselves better. they have to pick a card previously prepared by But educational drama is not theatre and it has a the teacher and try to include in the story the tremendous impact on the students’ development suggestion given on the card. each student adds one sentence lesson and what the teacher wants their students to the story. The same procedure explained above can and so on). hidden thoughts (asides) or captions (e. noisy activity that they continue with their own ideas. transitions between the images and some dialogue to make a one-minute scene. ■■ Alternatively they can develop an alphabet story students have the necessary tools to create their (first sentence beginning with A. Improvisation can be used in creating a story. A young woman and her character in the frozen images and when touched mother come in. it is a way Stories are a very good way of introducing and of making sense of the world and. ■■ This can be further developed by bringing in Chain story other drama conventions such as narration. The students then add movement.

Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press. They lead to the personal and social development of Philips. Maley. A and Barber. Heinemann. London: Longman. C (1995) Drama Worlds: A Framework for She is also a founder member of EDAR (Educational Process Drama. problem-solving skills and personal involvement) as Spiro. A (1997) Creating Stories with Children. Wright. New Hampshire: Drama Association in Romania). O’Neill. Maley. Oxford: Oxford inspiration and useful resources in the inexhaustible University Press. A and Hill. Oxford: Oxford University Press. J (1985) Using Drama in the Classroom. co-operation. Wright. O’Neill. creativity and its use in the classroom. many of which focused on University Press. Cambridge: Cambridge courses and conferences. Good luck to those who find Wessels. Victoria Hlenschi-Stroie currently works at Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. than Words (Creative Ideas with Teaching Flavour. Students (Euphoria. A and Barber. Guildford: Delta Publishing. independent opinion. K (2008) Drama and Improvisation. Those teachers who have already tried them know Spiro. J (2004) Creative Poetry Writing. C and Lambert. are willing to try them are guaranteed to see them in their group of students. Teaching Responsible and Creative Use (RATE Issues. London: Faber and Faber. Oxford: Oxford these things and have seen the benefits. A (1983) Drama Structures. Heathfield. Oxford: well as to the development of their linguistic skills. A (1979) Variations on a Theme. Romania. numerous benefits to those who engage in them. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Innsbruck: Helbling. field of drama and creative writing! Wilson. Portsmouth. 2007). A and Duff. Actions Speak Louder McRae. Oxford: the students (self-confidence. K (2001) Mapping Drama. Oxford University Press. freedom of expression. responsibility. 2009). those who University Press. Carlisle: Carel Press. Sibiu. K (1997) Dramaworks. Carlisle: Carel Press. Educational drama and creative writing bring Owens. A (1997) Storytelling with Children. A (2005) Drama Techniques: During her career as a teacher of English and teacher A Resource Book of Communication Activities trainer she has participated in numerous training for Language Teachers. Creative Ideas for Open-minded Teachers and Happy New York: Longman. A and Duff. Oxford University Press. 2011). N (ed) (1981) Children and Drama. K (1999) Impro for Storytellers. S (1981) Drama in Language Teaching. Gheorghe Lazăr National College. Oxford: Holden. S (2003) Drama with children. D (2014) Storytelling with our Students. J (2006) Storybuilding. London: Hutchinson. 164 |  Drama and creative writing: A blended tool . This has also been the focus of some articles she has published: McCaslin. Owens. Bibliography Wright. Johnstone. C (1987) Drama. and Multimedia Resources in TEFL. D (2008) Writing Stories.

More than a decade after the cited On the other hand. All these can diagnosis by Anne Wiseman: ‘A number of studies create a better climate for changing the attitudes have been undertaken analysing the impact of the and behaviours of students. there have been warnings. 18 A journey towards creativity: a case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school Zarina Markova Introduction patterns. where recent analyses show a tendency towards where students have not yet mastered creative decline: Bulgaria’s score in the five-yearly Progress expression in their mother tongue. we have all witnessed of examples where the totalitarian restrictions and children’s creative use of limited language resources absurdities pushed people to stretch their problem- to convey meaning. and also of teachers. and involved two classes of nine- In such a context. imaginative writing. There university town in south-western Bulgaria. those limitations provoked creativity. in a country that is experiencing from Vygotsky (1967) among others. is it realistic to in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) expect them to do it in a foreign language? decreased in 2011 and 2006. using analogy and metaphor. a closer look at at a school where foreign language instruction was the analyses shows that Bulgarian students generally more intensive than that in other schools. interpretation had formerly been considered elitist and preferred and reasoning – areas that are closely connected by families of middle to upper socio-economic status. in many ways. It includes self-reflection. that. with their beginner level in the foreign have vigorously objected. and in the Programme These were the questions arising at the beginning for International Student Assessment (PISA) 40 per of a one-year project which attempted to understand cent of students were classified as functionally if consistent focus on creative thinking processes illiterate. studies. classroom. which resulted in various forms is rich in fantasy and this can lead to the emergence of creative expression. It took place that there are more basic. Anne and experience and knowledge of the world can Wiseman’s prognosis is sad. However. In the foreign language following decades’ (Wiseman. We also know that a child’s world solving capacities. I would students. more pressing issues than in Blagoevgrad. that a severe demographic crisis and brain drain. however. and which struggle with open-ended questions. such expression will have to be in the target language.000. Moreover. but new solutions have to produce creative pieces of writing. I could have even argued of creativity. It could be argued and one class of ten-year-olds (grade 4). with creative thinking. This is a harrowing situation in which old while teaching English could enable young learners measures are ineffective. with a is even evidence that creative thinking is negatively population of about 70. but true. In the primary school context. fall of communism and the subsequent introduction of a free market economy into former Soviet bloc countries and all conclude that the totalitarian The project regimes stifled a generation in terms of creativity and If a stance towards teaching creativity is adopted. The effect was to be creative linguistic expression will be among the seen throughout Eastern and Central Europe in the naturally expected outcomes. Is this achievable with primary Had I read this observation ten years ago. empathy In a 2014 British Council publication there is a grim and playful engagement with ideas. raising the issue of creativity might year-olds (grade 3 in the Bulgarian school system) be considered rather irrelevant. Creativity involves discovering A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school  | 165 . The project not yet been found. and brainstorming. I would have given plenty language? On the one hand. The three classes were correlated with test results. the ability to develop initiatives. an administrative centre and dealing with an ‘elitist’ construct like creativity. it inhibit their creative processes and deter them from sounds extremely topical for the education sector. 2014: 301–302). and children’s insufficient command of their language whose intellectual capital is decreasing. started in 2010.

Project activities There follows a description of the project activities used to create conditions for ‘pedagogised’ creativity (Carlile and Jordan. which could result in more confidence and skill at a later. creative thinking activities were done at least once a week. non-elite Bulgarian state school (the only difference being the bigger number of foreign language lessons). expanding and multiplying sentences. in the context of effective and meaningful English language teaching. What is new is their function in the context described above – to lead Bulgarian young learners step-by-step into creative processes. Some of the activities could be repeated throughout the school year with a different language focus. personal and social creativity that can emerge. product-oriented stage of creative writing. due to demographic changes and the school’s proximity to a district with Roma inhabitants. whereas the 4th graders had already had approximately 360 lessons of English. There is always a linguistic outcome which could be supported by drawing and thus offer one more mode of creative expression. with about 20 per cent of them of Roma origin.e. Latterly. the school has become only slightly different from an average. During the project. multiple uses. At the beginning of the school year. 166 |  A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school . the 3rd graders had had approximately 200 lessons of English. of 35 minutes in the first and second years and 40 minutes from the third year onwards. Most of these activities are familiar to the experienced ELT reader. The children involved in the project were from a range of socio-economic status backgrounds. and be enhanced. i. associations. They involve the creative processes of brainstorming. guided imagery. and creating metaphors. 2012).

the focus here is not on guessing the right image content. stories can be set around the students’ pictures and the chosen image. Unlike the original. coins. ‘I can see…’. a bookmark. ■■ Their drawings are then displayed on the wall. Procedure ■■ An object is chosen by either the teacher or the students. give room for interpretations and stimulate young learners’ imaginations. a pen is a writing ■■ Procedure ■■ The students brainstorm the content of the image and then each of them draws what they think the image is about. pegs. oranges). For example: what objects can be used as a vehicle? How? When and where? Materials Simple objects such as pens/pencils. My personal choice would be a modern art painting or a fractal art image. ■■ Alternatively. but it can also be used as a pointer. Multiple uses In this activity the students suggest all the uses an object can have. but plenty of alternatives can be found on the internet. ■■ The teacher stops the activities when they feel satisfied with the number and the variety of the answers. ■■ Depending on the chosen image.php ■■ http://en. For example. compared to the original image and the students are encouraged to make sentences explaining how they are similar/different. but on developing tolerance of cases with more than one correct answer. forks or fruit (lemons. A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school  | 167 . Here are some possible sources: ■■ www.wikipedia. This is an adaptation of the popular ‘guess the image’ activity. a fork or knife. It is important to help the students with a plan or guiding questions and vocabulary support if they do not have experience of such activities. for example ‘There is/are…’. the teacher may need to provide a little help with vocabulary and structure. they brainstorm objects suitable for a particular use. ■■ The students brainstorm its possible uses. or a stick for stirring… Alternatively. What’s in a picture? This is a brainstorming activity where the teacher covers an image in such a way that the visible part is both small enough to prevent guessing and big enough to present an idea and stimulate imagination. Materials Images should be then written and displayed together. however. ‘I have…’ in my picture.

and the game continues with the next team. ■■ Each student shows their card to their teammates and says the word aloud. etc. each student incorporates the chosen word in a picture and then describes the picture. the used cards are put aside. a dog can be associated with a table because it has four legs. each team consisting of four to six students. Procedure ■■ The cards are put in a bag. ■■ If the association is accepted. they are put in the box. If there are some cards left over. Preparation The cards from the second set are randomly distributed among the students. or because both words contain four letters. the child whose card was used draws a new one. each student receiving one card. the team receives a point. Surprise me! This is a vocabulary practice activity in which the students have fun while making surprising sentences with given words. the students can discuss their words in groups and create surprising sentences together. With young learners. ■■ It is important that all teams have an equal number of turns − the teacher should calculate this in advance. ■■ A dice is thrown to decide in what order the teams will play. but at the same time it can generate interest in the acquisition of new vocabulary. It is valuable in itself for its creative potential. a bag. ■■ The game stops when all the cards have been used. Procedure ■■ The class is divided into teams. Part of this activity will inevitably involve mother-tongue use. ■■ Alternatively. ■■ In a variation of the activity. The cards from the first set are put in a box and shuffled. Materials Cards with vocabulary that needs practice. ■■ Each student picks a word and makes a surprising sentence. ■■ An association is considered good as long as the students can justify their choice. a kite can be associated with a bird because they both can fly. For example. etc. Snap – variation The teacher prepares two sets of cards with the vocabulary that needs practice.). or because it can be found in people’s homes. but it is better to extend it with examples of how this new vocabulary works and with subsequent practice. 168 |  A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school . ■■ The teacher draws a card from the box and the first team has to make an association between the word from the box and any of the words they have on their cards. it can include drills of the following type: ‘A pen can be (used as) a knife because you can sometimes cut with it’ (or as a pointer/point.

while the competitive element remains. each of them being responsible for their own word. –– My cat is playing with a ball because… she likes balls/it is interesting/I am at school/she is not hungry. Adding adjectives ■■ A similar activity is to expand the sentence by adding adjectives. It should be carefully explained that the aim of the activity is to stimulate imagination and that normally some of the sentences can sound meaningless. –– My friend is reading with his mum because… he has homework/he can’t read/she is at home/she is not busy.’ ‘Birds are drinking flower juice. Gradually. A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school  | 169 . and because it is hungry. ■■ Instead of associations. The students still need a framework and help with the kinds of adjectives they could add. when students play around with a certain grammar structure. more poetic expression can be encouraged. Framework: The adjective 1 adjective 2 adjective 3 adjective 4 bird is flying in the sky. and because it is happy. –– The beautiful young bird is flying in the sky.’ ‘Spring is wearing a cherry dress. students can make associations individually. adjective 1 – describing opinion adjective 2 – describing a fact: how big? adjective 3 – describing a fact: how old? adjective 4 – describing a fact: what colour? Examples: –– The scary big black bird is flying in the sky. This can be done in a special ‘time for fun’ slot. ■■ The students follow the framework and make their own sentences.’ ‘Autumn is drinking fog milk. This variation of the game may be more appropriate for grammar drills. Framework: Who (or what) is doing what where with who (or with what) why (give as many explanations as possible) Examples: –– The bird is flying in the sky because… it wants food. students can make unusual/funny sentences. and because the weather is sunny and because it is not raining and because it is not cold. Variations ■■ Instead of teams. and students can come up with suggestions like: ‘Autumn is wearing a cloudy dress.’ Expanding sentences Procedure ■■ The teacher gives a sentence framework and illustrates it with a few examples. This variation makes more demands on students and was not considered suitable for the purposes of the project.’ ‘The sun is eating rainbow drops.

There is a big book under the table. There was a new book under the chair. ■■ For example. etc. Are you tall or short? What colour is your hair? What are you wearing? What is your job? How many children have you got? Are they boys or girls? How old are they? How do they look? 170 |  A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school . if the original sentence is ‘There is a big vase on the table’. Is it big or small? Is it noisy or quiet? How many windows does it have? How many doors? What can you see through the windows? What is there inside the room? Who is with you in the room? What are you doing? What is the other person doing? Example 2: Imagine you are a parent. Example 1: Imagine the room of your dreams. ■■ The students draw pictures of their mental images. There is a new book under the chair. a possible path to follow can be: There is a big book on the table. ■■ The students play with the given sentence by changing only one word at a time. Guided imagery In this activity the students close their eyes and visualise a place. compare them and discuss the differences and similarities. following the teacher’s guidelines. There is a big book under the chair. Procedure ■■ The teacher reads or asks a sequence of questions. Variations on a sentence Procedure ■■ The teacher writes a sentence on the board.

the following questions were discussed: ■■ What feelings do people show? When? How? ■■ What character traits do people possess? How do they show them? ■■ Can these feelings and traits be personified? How? Then two opposite character features were chosen. Students then discussed how they would appear if they were people. Therefore. It has… (number) windows. and the children had to describe them in a whole-class activity. To provide them with a sense of security a text format was suggested. The 4th graders had to write a story involving emotions or human traits. The chosen traits were Patience and Impatience. It is… (adjective 2 – level of noise). the teacher may decide to limit the instructions to five or six sentences. dislikes and feelings. and for the 3rd grade this included a description of the appearance of the object or the animal. Some learners at this age may find it difficult to reproduce what they have imagined during the guided imagery process. The second task is an adaptation of Deborah Fraser’s metaphorical writing lesson in the literacy classroom (Fraser. likes. and so on. For the same reason. A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school  | 171 . The 3rd graders had to imagine they were an object or an animal and write a story about ‘themselves’. you may provide your students with a structure to follow while drawing and describing. In both cases. Part of the discussion was conducted in Bulgarian to allow more variety and depth of exploration of the topic. ■■ For example: The room of my dreams is… (adjective 1 – size). The description followed the questions: ■■ Where does Patience/Impatience live? ■■ What does she look like? Her face? Her body? ■■ What clothes does she wear? ■■ What does she do? ■■ What things does she like? ■■ Does she have friends? Who are her friends? The stories were written during the second lesson. daily routine. Final task At the end of the school year students were given creative writing tasks. its place. 2006). In the 4th grade the writing task was carried out in two lessons. the children had freedom to choose the main characters in their stories. During the first lesson.

Maidenhead: the investment of thought and energy on the part Open University Press. were stimulated to introduce more creative activities in their teaching. D (ed). classes and schools. It would be even more difficult to say if their experience would be transferred to other subjects. A (2014) ‘My life changed when I saw that and began to engage more enthusiastically and notice’. They started adapting their coursebook to provide Zarina Markova is a Language Teacher Educator more open-ended activities for their students and at the South-West University. D (2006) The creative potential of involvement in the learning process. Bulgaria. where were rewarded accordingly. the electronic newsletter of the Bulgarian You are flower English Teachers’ Association (BETA-IATEFL). Love. and experience warns us to be modest in our expectations. Currently. though. in turn. O and Jordan. which in turn metaphorical writing in the literacy classroom. Simeon (9 years) (Given to the teacher on 8 March. The project attracted the attention of the foreign language experts in two regional inspectorates. who. and they. You are mango juice both online and face-to-face. out. Rumyana Velichkova and Eleonora Lazarova for their active participation This project started as an attempt to create in this project. It is with an instance of she teaches courses in Language Acquisition and such a reward that I would like to conclude this Foreign Language Teaching Methodology. organised teacher training seminars on creativity in ELT for some 120 teachers of English. she is one of the project collaborators on You are bird the SEETA Small-scale Teacher-led Research Project You are happiness (with Anna Parisi and Desmond Thomas). in Hayes. It would be difficult to predict whether and how the teachers and students would be able to sustain their creative engagement in the teaching/learning process. Yet. and to Lyubka Kirilova. helped by the British Council in Sofia. Moscow: Prosveshchenie. Gradually. In our English Teaching: Practice and Critique 5/2: 93–108. You. Fatme conditions for fostering primary students’ creative Osmanova and Tsvetanka Panova for organising the thinking and expression and turned into a rewarding. boosts teachers’ devotion and commitment. London: British Council. case. and conducts state teacher certification examinations. Innovations in the continuing imaginatively in the activities. This was accompanied professional development of English language by more signs of appreciation of their English lessons teachers. A (2012) Approaches to would be well aware of the virtuous circle where Creativity: A Guide for Teachers. I would like to believe that even small steps can sometimes have disproportionately larger effects. L (1967) Voobrazhenie i tvorchestvo v confidence to tolerate ambiguities and take risks. the first steps were difficult as the children seemed to lack ideas. willingness to experiment. No one can know how effective such training can be. and Vygotsky. There are rays of optimism. Acknowledgements International Women’s Day) I am indebted to Ellie Bundova. and co-edits. Mrs Bundova She also does teacher training for the British Council. Conclusion References The more experienced readers of this chapter Carlile. joyful experience for everybody involved. of the teacher increases students’ motivation and Fraser. 172 |  A journey towards creativity: A case study of three primary classes in a Bulgarian state school . with Sylvia You are sunny Velikova. teacher training seminars. the students gained self-assurance Wiseman. and their teachers. The detskom vozraste [Imagination and Creativity in teachers had to spend time and effort to draw them Childhood]. supervises project description: teaching practice and master’s dissertations.




Nik is an www.britishcouncil.britishcouncil. www. He is now a freelance consultant and writer. 9 780863 557675 ISBN 978-0-86355-767-5 www. He has published over 50 books and numerous articles. He has worked as editor and consultant on many major web-based language learning initiatives around the world and has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of English language teaching. He then worked in university posts in Singapore (1993–98). The activities will help you to explore the role of creativity in the classroom both in the sense of helping students to express their unique creative identity and also by helping them to think about and use language in a creative way. co-editor of this publication. Malaysia and Vietnam (2004–11).weebly. . France.britishcouncil. teacher trainer and educational technology expert. blogger. He worked with the British Council in Yugoslavia. He is a past President of IATEFL. Cambridge (1988–93). At present he works as Head of Learning for a web-based language school and is a frequent presenter at ELT conferences. China and India (1962–88) before taking over as Director-General of the Bell Educational http://esol. The activities are suitable for a broad range of students from young to old and from low to higher levels and can be used alongside your existing syllabus and course materials to enhance your students’ experience of learning co-editor of this publication.britishcouncil. Alan Maley. Italy.The focus of this book is on practical classroom activities which can help to nurture and develop our students’ creativity. and recipient of the ELTons Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.britishcouncil. has been involved with English language teaching for over 50 years. Thailand (1999–2004). He is a co-founder of The C Group ( © British Council 2015/F004 The British Council is the United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational www.