Sunday, 15 July 2012

Creativity in ELT

This is a summary of a recent webinar presented by Antonia Clare.  She shared so many good ideas that I need to record them here for future use in my classroom and in my training sessions for other teachers.

In a creative classroom, students are active participants and are fully engaged in the learning process.  The aim is to shift the responsibility from the teacher back to the learner.

Creative thinking is about:
  • FLUENCY - generating lots of ideas.
  • FLEXIBILITY - the ability to shift perspective and come up with a variety of ideas.
  • ELABORATION - building on and expanding existing ideas.
  • ORIGINALITY - coming up with new ideas.

'Creative' versus 'Critical' thinking

How can we encourage creativity?

We need to use a framework to trigger creative thinking.

Examples of this are:
  • writing without using the letter 'e'.  (This is something that I've done with an upper intermediate class, using this British Council podcast and worksheet.)
  • using writing prompts.  For example, has a first line generator for creative writing.
  • using Flickr five card stories to encourage inventive narratives.
  • giving students the first lines of proverbs and getting them to invent the endings.  Then they can think of stories in their own lives that prove or disprove the proverb.
  • 'My Life in Film' - encourage learners to write their life story as a movie trailer using prompts (in the beginning....., then...., later......, a big decision......, now........, etc.).
Ways to use your emotions

There are six basic emotions:
  • fear
  • anger
  • distress
  • joy
  • surprise
  • disgust
We can:
  • look at pictures and discuss these emotions.
  • talk about situations when we've felt these emotions.
  • write some 'emotions poetry'.
       For example,   Distress is like ____________.
                                It tastes like ___________.
                                It smells like ___________.
                                It sounds like ___________.
                                It looks like ____________.
                                It feels like ____________.

This is good for all levels, from pre-intermediate upwards.  The lines could be made to rhyme, but they don't have to.

Using the five senses

When it comes to the senses, try getting students to think about evocative smells, for example.  To get the ball rolling, tell them an anecdote from your own past.  For me, this would involve the aroma of warm tomatoes growing in my Grandad's greenhouse when I was a very small child!

You could also use a website like Talking Memories and encourage students to think about memories of their childhoods.  They could record an oral account or write a description of an event, adding details of how they felt and why it was special, remembering to include all the senses.

Thinking outside of the box
  • Take students outside of the classroom.  The effect is often very liberating and gets the creative juices flowing.
  • Use a website like Voxopop to get students talking.  You could, for example, ask them to talk about their 'perfect day'.
  • Make a film.
  • Use a video to stimulate discussion.  For example, you could use this video about Banksy to trigger the debate, 'Is grafitti art or vandalism?'

Using images
  • Show images of people and ask, 'What kind of person do you think he/she is and why?'
  • Choose images to create a 'Museum of Me' - include pictures of clothes, food, drink, books, places, etc.
  • Use eltpics - get students to choose pictures which are indicative of them  and write a story or do a presentation around them.

Finally, we need to be.......

Creation of stories and poems
Response framework
Engagment of the emotions
Activation of the senses
Thinking time
Imagery as a prompt

Thanks to Antonia Clare for a great webinar!


  1. just WOW dear! excellent student, excellent teacher!

  2. Thanks for the support, TJ!!