I love creativity and I deeply believe every human being is creative (and not only human beings, honestly, the things my cats come up with…), and it’s one of the most vital aspects of our teaching job. As Alan Maley says, I passionately believe creativity to be central to learning, including language learning. When I saw his 50 Creative Activities published by CUP, I knew I had to take a look at the book.
The publication is a part of pocket editions of Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers – and I’ve already had a great experience with Jack C. Richards’ 50 Tips for Teacher Development. Again, the book is really nicely organised, so that you know what area you want to focus on:
- Creative Writing
- Working with Music and Sound
- Working with Drama and the Voice
- Playing with Language
- Hands-on Activities
The author explains how he sees the difference between creative products and creative processes – his ideas aim to achieve both, so apart from learning a language, students will also work creatively on a real product. I find this approach quite interesting, especially for adult, more advanced students. I have met people who claim they specifically want to learn the language, and they are not interested in games, role-plays and projects – this approach will suit them as they will know exactly which skills they are developing through creative activities.
Well-known activities like Poem From a Picture (a vocabulary-building activity) evolve into Recipe Poems (with a brilliant example, namely A Recipe for Drought). One of more interesting activities is Making Metaphors, a simple but powerful task that will make your students get into style a’la Coelho (I seriously consider Coelho’s style an inspiration for many activities). For braver students, you may introduce the activity called Moved by Music and encourage some proper dance moves in the classroom.
All of the ideas have a clear goal, are definitely focused on language development and are a great means to convincing your students that a little bit of fun is still useful for language learning. To quote the author:
Many of the activities favour more aesthetic modes of expression, such as the visual arts, music, drama and voice-work, and literature. Inputs like these are, of course, inherently creative anyway.
The activities included in the book are not labelled with optimal CEFR levels – they can be adapted to different levels and groups. It’s a brilliant technique to make teachers work creatively before they introduce any activity in their classroom. They are ready to use, however you will need to adapt them to your own group. You’re given various ideas and inspirations that will bring different results depending on the students, their level, the chemistry between them, and even the mood they share.
If you’re not afraid of creative flow, unexpected bursts of laughter and good fun – this book is definitely for you!