HomeCreativity & Critical ThinkingCreative Writing in the Language Classroom

Creative Writing in the Language Classroom




Jane Spiro, author of Creative Poetry Writing (2004) Storybuilding (2007), looks at how, why, and with what effect we can include creative writing activities in the language classroom. Jane will be hosting a webinar entitled “Creative Writing in the Language Classroom” on 9th and 15th March. You can find more information and register to attend here.

Why introduce creative writing activities?  

Our use of the mother tongue is full of the same ‘creative’ strategies that poets use when they are shaping a poem. When we tell jokes we are often playing with puns and the shape and form of words: when we use idioms we are often invoking a metaphor or simile that has become part of the language. The names of products, or the nicknames we use for people we like and dislike often play with the sound of words – alliteration and internal rhymes, the connotation of words, or multiple meanings.  So one reason that creative activities in the language classroom are worthwhile, is because they mirror the strategies we use in our mother tongue.

Another, perhaps even more important reason, is that an effective creative writing strategy brings the whole learner into the classroom: experiences, feelings, memories, beliefs. Of course other activities can do this too – but the creative writing activity can lead to an outcome which is memorable, which the learner may want to keep, or even ‘publish’ to others: a Valentine poem, a poem of thanks to a parent, a birthday poem for a sibling or friend.

How do creative writing activities fit with language learning?

Many teachers say there is no time for poetry activities, or creative activities, alongside all the language goals of the classroom. Another objection, is that the language of poems and stories is quite different from the everyday language students really need.

This webinar will answer these two concerns.  We will explore the ways in which creative writing activities can be developed as part of the language syllabus, helping to make vocabulary, structures and patterns memorable and engaging.  We will also consider how creative writing activities allow opportunities for connecting language skills so that writing leads to informed reading, and vice versa. Our discussions and activities will also prove that these strategies are within the capacity of all learners (and teachers too!) and do not require special ‘genius’ or talent to be achievable.

Don’t forget to find out more information and register for Jane’s upcoming webinar.

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  1. Could teachers also not use creative writing because of the influence of their own bottom-up or perfectionist education? I feel this is true especially in the EFL context of Japan. Many still hesitate to include speaking activities into the classroom until all students are perfect in their English. Putting words together and learning from mistakes in communication breakdowns can also be considered a side of creativity. This gets worse with writing, although what Jane said is somewhat true in that the teachers themselves are not confident in their writing, it is rarely seen in the classroom other than writing one final sentence using the target grammar at the end of the class to see if students have grasped the grammar. Small wonder there is no advancement!

  2. I have set up two creative writing programs for ESL learners here in the States, and I can most definitely say, “There is time for such crucial writing!” Creative writing is actually the most logical way to get students to write better, more creatively, reasonably and deeply. Why is it not being used more? ESL instructors are not reading current research on neuroscience. If they were, they would see how important creative writing for second language learners.
    Patrick T. Randolph

  3. Correction:
    If they were, they would see how important creative writing is for second language learners.
    Patrick T. Randolph

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