Creativity in language teaching

I see teaching and learning as intrinsically creative activities. They require from all those involved the capacity of thinking in different ways, taking risks, and changing a present situation into something else because, otherwise, there is no learning. Nevertheless, it is no unusual for teachers and learners to get stuck in classroom routines and be driven by the need to perform well in examinations which take the novelty, experimentation, creativity and fun out of the process. Having these things in mind Alan Maley and Chaz Pugliese have  brought a group of like-minded people together to think of ways of promoting creativity in language teaching, we are calling ourselves the C Group.

One of the first initiatives of the C Group was to organize a symposium on creativity at IATEFL where six of us presented on different aspects of creativity in teaching and learning. Here is a summary of the presentations.

Creativity – for a change Alan Maley (Freelance) Creativity is much proclaimed but little practised. Teachers suffer from the twin plagues of routine and institutional control. In his presentation, Alan suggested  that more creative forms of learning and teaching are possible. He  focused on constraints, heuristics, improvisation and the random principle as ways of rendering our teaching more creative.

Getting our students in flow: the creative teacher’s ultimate challenge Chaz Pugliese (Freelance) We’re in a state of flow when we’re so immersed in what we’re doing that we become oblivious to anything and anyone around. But what can a teacher do to promote flow? In this session, Chaz analysed a few useful strategies to design activities that are rich, enjoyable and may help the students pay attention and stay focused.

Why do we still need creativity in a language class? Hanna Kryszewska (Pilgrims Language Courses, Humanising Language Teaching Magazine) Humanism and other schools of thought considered creativity a vital component of learning and teaching. At present, creativity seems to be less prominent. Has it become obsolete? This talk focusesed on reasons for and ways of promoting creativity in EFL in the 21st Century, with reference to Gardner’s recent theory of education (Five Minds for the  Future).

Putting the human centre stage Mark Almond (Canterbury Christ Church University)
Mark talked about how the focus in language classrooms around the world has moved from
person-to-person interaction to person-to-screen interaction. He argued that, though much of the new technology available to teachers is quite staggering in its innovation, more meaningful, richer and creative communication should be going on between the people in the room.

Creative reading in teacher development Chris Lima (University of Leicester) In this talk, I discussed how integrating the reading of literary and creative material into teacher education and development programmes can give ELT professionals the opportunity to better understand the role of literature in language learning, participate in discussions of relevant issues, engage with different points of view, and develop their own language skills.

Creative use of the coursebook Brian Tomlinson (Anaheim University) Brian demonstrated how teachers can stimulate their learners to be creative by using their coursebooks in creative ways. He showed how consciously articulating principles of creativity can generate a menu of creative activities which can help the teacher and the students to come up with ideas for using each coursebook unit in novel ways.

Alan Maley also gave an interview to the British Council Harrogate Online where he talks about the importance of creativity in the ELT industry and introduces the C Group:

To visit the C Group website, click here

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