Creativity among young learners is a relatively new subject that has not yet gained enough popularity among scholars, educators and policymakers. However, the integration of creativity into the curriculum and the teaching process is the demand of the 21st century because children will be exposed to an environment where nonreactive job positions will be automated (Rich, 2014). At the same time, the ability to innovate and solve problems in a creative manner will be a vital skill required by potential employers. Hence, students who learn in an environment where the lessons are based on creative and novel methods will have an advantage because they will develop their creativity and problem-solving skills that will prepare them for a successful future. This approach is in line with the idea that students must develop holistically, and for example, in language learning, the educator should work on ensuring that their learners possess not only the knowledge but also the skills to apply it. Creativity allows addressing the holistic development of young learners by enabling the educator to assess what the particular group of students need and tailoring the teaching strategies to help them acquire knowledge, new skills and leverage the intrinsic motivation of these students.
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In language learning, creatively allows substituting the outdated ‘talking heads’ approach with the one that will prepare children for real-life interactions. When I was an English teacher in Hangzhou, China, I noticed that most of my colleagues used a teacher-centred approach where students had little to no engagement in the lesson. Moreover, in many Asian states, teacher-led learning continues to be the prevalent method of disseminating knowledge, despite the many downsides of this approach (Melville et al., 2019). Since the engagement of the students in the process predetermines their results, the ‘talking heads’ methodology must be abandoned to help students learn English successfully (Oga-Baldwin, 2017). This paper will summarise the following three creative teaching methodologies: English Through Drama, English Through Play, and Total Physical Response method. English through Drama implies the teacher acting out the words they want their students to learn (Melville et al., 2019). English through Play is similar, yet it requires the teacher to come up with a game or a challenge for students, such as speak only English throughout the lesson (Bland, 2015). Total physical response implies the teacher saying words in English and students showing these objects or acting out the verbs (Jamili, 2017). Generally, the purpose of all creative teaching strategies is to create engagement, help students develop holistically, and leverage their intrinsic motivation to learn.
Creative teaching is a relatively new concept that is a part of the creative education approach, where students rely on their imagination and problem-solving skills when learning new material, which helps them study in a more meaningful way. Hence, the students do not learn a new theme and a way of resolving a standard textbook problem using a common solution, but instead, they are encouraged to find as many resolutions as they can, which helps them deepen their understanding of the subject because to find an answer to a problem, they need to understand it sufficiently. Melville et al. (2019, p. 5) argue that the need for creative teaching of foreign languages arises from the issue of ‘talking heads,’ which was a standard method of teaching a language derived from any human characteristics and real-life communication attributes. This ‘talking head’ approach is the reason why many learners view these classes as boring because they are predictable and derived of interesting details. In contrast, the creative teaching approach implies the use of different techniques and tasks to keep the students’ attention in focus.
According to Cropley and Patston (2019), creative teaching is the demand of the 21 century, where learners have to develop problem-solving skills because this methodology implies giving students unusual tasks and assignments instead of utilising the standard repetition and testing techniques. Theoretically, creative teaching is superior to the traditional teacher-led methodology because, with the former, the students are more motivated since their curiosity is constantly challenged and supported by their tutor, which will be discussed in more detail in the subsection on motivation.
Moreover, Bland (2015) argues that the parents of young English learners expect them to master this language by the time they graduate from school, which requires educators and policymakers to pay special attention to the way English is taught as a second language. These expectations pressure both the students and the teachers, which may lead to the hasty implementation of effective practices or the focus on preparing students for tests instead of ensuring that they can understand a language and communicate in it on a basic level. The creative teaching method addresses these requirements fully because the teacher can adapt the curriculum and assignments based on the students’ characteristics and needs.
Definition of Creative Teaching
Naturally, there are several distinctive definitions of creative teaching, with each author emphasising the specific aspect of this approach. According to Kakar, Sarwari and Miri (2020, p. 157), creative teaching means ‘developing instructional strategies and techniques in novel and effective ways to enhance the attention and involvement of students, resulting in making the learning experience of a group of students enjoyable and meaningful.’ Hence, the difference between standard teaching and creative methods is in the teacher’s approach to assessing the class’ needs and their use of unusual methods for communicating the learning material to students with the goal of enhancing engagement and making learning more meaningful. This approach includes both the design of teaching materials and the specific strategies the educator selects (Kakar, Sarwari and Miri, 2020). In contrast, many states have an English teaching system that is teacher-centred and is based on them using the grammar and translation approaches that result in a limited engagement of the students (Sarwari, 2018).
Another definition of creative teaching is by Root-Bernstein and Root-Bernstein (2017), who argue that this approach allows students to actively understand the material rather than to passively know. This also implies that the students can use what they have learned in practice, which is especially important for English learners who have to be able to speak the language instead of merely understanding the grammar and knowing the words. Although creative teaching is discussed as a positive concept in the literature, not all educators view it as such. Hong, Part, and Rowell (2017) state that most associated ‘creative teaching’ with innovation and active problem-solving. However, for others, this method is mysterious and incomprehensible, which leads to issues with the development of creative curriculums and implementing these practices in a classroom. Hence, although creativity has apparent benefits for the teachers and learners, the lack of understanding of this concept is a serious issue that obstructs educators from using creative teaching techniques in their classrooms.
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The definition of creative teaching by Guzdial, Liao and Riedl (2018) focuses on the students since the authors argue that the goal of this approach is to evoke curiosity and encourage learners to investigate concepts and ideas. Hence, the curriculum and exercises are designed to motivate the students to learn and can even encourage them to explore the course material, which is more meaningful in comparison to memorisation and testing that merely address the student’s ability to answer questions as opposed to their ability to utilise what they have learned.
Creative teaching has become essential for contemporary classrooms because students will need to mater the ability to think creatively and use their knowledge in real-life contexts. According to Beghetto and Kaufman (2017), globally, education policymakers are advocating for the development and implementation of creative teaching approaches. One explanation for this is that creativity is an integral part of children’s behaviour, and it is necessary to incorporate it into teaching to provide a well-rounded education. Another explanation is that the modern economy demands children, who will become the future employees, to develop creative thinking skills to compete in the job market where creative problem solving, ability to innovate, and originality are in high demand (Bakhshi et al., 2017; Rosenstock and Riordan, 2017). The last reason for a need to integrate creativity into the learning process is that ‘occupations requiring a high degree of creative intelligence” are least likely to be replaced by automation and robots in the nearest future (Frey and Osborne, 2017, p. 262)
Although at first, creative teaching may appear simple as the implementation requires a teacher to come up with unusual tasks for the students, the appropriate learning environment is an integral part of this methodology. Cropley (2018) states that implementation of creativity in classrooms requires one to account for the people, processes, and the environment as well as maintain focus and differentiation. This means that implementing creative approaches to teaching in a classroom is a complex process that requires educators to account for several factors influencing the learners and their ability to respond to creativity.
Moreover, Rus (2020) argues that when applying creative teaching to the EFL and ASL instructors, one must understand that the educators must take a holistic approach. This means that although the subject in question is English, the teacher has to ensure that their students can communicate in this language, which may require them to incorporate some techniques to improve the communication skills of the students in general; or problem-solving methods that the students will need to construct complex sentences and apply grammar rules correctly, which requires a corresponding work towards improving their problem-solving capabilities. All in all, creative teaching must address not only the students’ knowledge and capabilities on a given subject but their overall development, which is why the following section of this paper will address Vygotsky’s cognitive development theory in detail.
One issue with integrating creativity into the classrooms is the lack of research and practical recommendations for it. According to Cropley and Patston (2019, p. 269), ‘one of the enduring frustrations in creativity research is the persistence of myths and misconceptions—that is, unproven or incorrect beliefs, opinions, or attitudes’ and Plucker (2017) and Patston et al. (2018) voice similar concerns arguing that these misconceptions act as a barrier to implementing these practices. These misconceptions stand in the way of teachers exploring the ways of using creative teaching in their classrooms. These findings also explain why creative teaching is not widely applied by educators in classroom settings-they do not perceive this approach as effective and do not have an understanding of how creative teaching can be implemented in practice.
There are multiple ways of including creative teaching techniques into the curriculum, which can be either specific exercises or the overall design of the lesson. Melville et al. (2019) offer the ‘English through drama’ technique as one of creative teaching’s facets. This technique implies using games, roleplay, and student’s imagination as part of the curriculum, and the objective is to help students practice English grammar and speaking that would be appropriate for a situation and mood, as well as aid them in speaking English spontaneously.
Creative teaching is most suitable for the developmental specifics of the young learners, but it is important to remember the goal of this method, which is to help the students learn something new with each activity. Cameron (2001) states that when working with children and teaching them a foreign language, it is essential to understand the differences between the young learners and adults, such as the curiosity and enthusiasm of the former group. Despite this, young students are easily demotivated and distracted and have difficulty performing tasks that are difficult because they lose focus easily. Considering this, Cameron (2001, p. 1) argues that the traditional concepts of ‘grammar’ and ‘listening’ should be taught differently to children, who are motivated by different things and have different cognitive and developmental abilities when compared to adults. Most importantly, Cameron (2001) wars against undermining the children’s potential by dismissing their capabilities and give them tasks that are easy to complete and fun only, without emphasising the learning as well. In the context of creative teaching, this means that although the teacher’s primary goal is to engage children, the assignments and classroom activities must fulfil the purpose of teaching the students to value the time that they have for learning.
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As part of the creative teaching, educators can leverage the technology and activities that young learners engage in outside of school. For example, Rich (2014) explored Korean English learners and their attitudes towards using online games in relation to language learning. The implication is that when playing, the children are engaged in the process, and they need to communicate with other gamers from all over the world, usually in English, to create alliances and discuss strategies. In a way, this is a natural and highly engaging method of learning a language because these students enjoy the gaming process, and in order to participate in it, they have to use their English knowledge. Rich (2014) argues that teachers should use this example as a way to understand how young learners acquire a practical skill in a language. Moreover, gaming can be used as part of the creative teaching methodology because it fits the criteria of problem-solving, educating and teaching a skill such as communication.
Young Learners’ Characteristics: Vygotsky
Vygotsky has developed a theory that describes the characteristics of young learners and what affects their ability to perceive information during the learning process. Vygotsky created the Cognitive Development Theory, which explains how children develop their cognitive capabilities through social interactions and by engaging with other people (Vygotsky, 1978). Hence, following this theory, these capabilities are socially guided and depend greatly on the environment and the people who surround children, which helps understand why appropriate teaching methods and classroom design are crucial for young learners-these factors predetermine the future development of students. Under Vygotsky’s theory, culture is the essential component that predetermines the children’s approach to learning and their attitudes towards it (Veraksa and Sheridan, 2018). Hence, teaching without understanding one’s culture will result in failure. When combining the knowledge from the literature on creative learning with that of Vygotsky’s theory, the development of creative teaching approaches must be completed in connection with the comprehension of the culture and social environment in which these children live.
Vygotsky (2004) discusses the development of children in the socio-cultural context, and he introduces the idea of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD shows a difference between a child’s achievements on their own and progress with help from the outside, including guidance, help, and encouragement. Under this theory, a young learner cannot master some skills and knowledge because they are too difficult for them. According to Vygotsky (1978, p. 86), this concept is defined as ‘the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.’ Importantly, social interactions with a skilled tutor are one of the three factors that helps a learner move from their zone of proximal development towards mastering a subject. Vygotsky (2004) also discusses scaffolding, which is the integration of supporting activities that aid learning and studying with the help of a person whose skills and knowledge on the topic exceed the child. Vygotsky’s approach to learning implies that the social interactions and the educator’s approaches towards teaching are the essential factors that predetermine whether students will be able to achieve success in a particular subject. Based on Vygotsy’s (2004) findings, one can conclude that teacher-student interactions are of particular importance for children’s learning. The social interactions aid the learner when they internalise the material.
Subsection on Motivation
Motivation is another important characteristic of learning and creating an appropriate environment for young learners. As the previous section of the definitions of creative teaching shows, this concept implies that educators use various techniques to motivate their students to explore a subject in-depth and beyond what is learned in a classroom. Multiple studies have been conducted on the motivation of young learners to determine their attitudes towards motivation and how it affects their success when learning. For example, Oga-Baldwin and Nakata (2017) state that a culture of engagement in a classroom may help educators achieve this goal, and according to their findings, ‘engagement strongly predicted more adaptive intrinsically regulated motives and negatively predicted more extrinsic motives.’ Moreover, these researchers report that a survey of observers confirms the idea that engagement is, in fact, visually noticeable.
In another study of Japanese English learners, Oga-Baldwin et al. (2017) found that the social environment of the children has an effect on their motivation to study. This, in line with Vygotsky’s theory, supports the idea that the classroom and educators can affect the students’ attitudes towards their studies and their motivation to learn. Oga-Baldwin et al. (2017) argue that the intrinsic motivation of a student, which is their internal desire to achieve something, develops as a result of their surroundings, since ‘self-determination theory posits that intrinsic motivation develops through the interaction of the person and the environment.’
Ariefet and McInerney (2018) also focus on the discussion of students self-determination as the predominant factor in defining their motivation to study. The authors compare different teaching strategies and argue that apart from setting the goals, teachers should focus on listening t their students and assessing their needs. Moreover, according to the self-determination theory, the students are naturally prone to be curious and learn new things. However, this curiosity has to be supported and nurtured by their environment; otherwise, they will lose their intrinsic motivation. According to Ariefet and McInerney (2018), students need autonomy, relatedness and competence in order to learn successfully on their own. Hence, it is a teacher’s responsibility to ensure that their students learn in an environment that provides them with enough support to foster their intrinsic motivation.
As a teacher, I have worked at a school in Hangzhou in China, helping local children learn English. I have taught there several years ago and have gained an understanding of the differences between teaching and learning in the Western and Asian countries, as well as the lack of creative teaching techniques applied towards teaching English. In general, a standard lesson would consist of an introduction of the topic, reading and completing the exercises, and revising the materials. Creative teaching techniques were uncommon, and other teachers also did not use this approach, as far as I know.
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After the courses I undertook as part of the MA TESOL, I find that there are many gaps in the way that language is taught to young learners. For example, little attention is given to the needs assessment and development of lesson plans based on these needs. Creative teaching strategies are usually not a part of the curriculum since teachers choose to focus on preparing students for tests instead of ensuring that they can master English successfully. The approaches to teaching also vary depending on the culture of the state where the education takes place. According to Bland (2015, p. 10), ‘the teaching culture varies enormously from place to place,’ for example, in Asia the rote-learning and teacher talk are the two most commonly used strategies for teaching languages. However, these are not ideal for young learners whose attention and ability to concentrate on the study material and cognise it is lesser than that of teenagers or adult learners. In contrast to creative teaching, rote-learning implies merely repeating the new words and grammar rules to memorising them, and according to Oxford Learning, this is not the most effective technique in general (Rote learning vs. meaningful learning, 2017). Rote-learning is similar to cramming before an exam or memorising information for a test, and the main downside of this approach is that it does not provide students with a meaningful understanding of a topic, and without constant repetition, this information is quickly forgotten. In the context of language teaching, rote learning is only effective for tasks such as memorising the alphabet and similar ones where the students have to cram a specific set of letters or words (Rote learning vs. meaningful learning, 2017). Hence, both personal observations and the literature support the findings that the traditional approach to teaching English to young learners in Asian states is not effective and does not address a meaningful mastering of English that these students will use in their future, and creative teaching methods are an excellent way of addressing this gap.
Additionally, when considering the context of creative learning for teaching English in China, one should look at the policies that the government has created to support these learning activities. A policy by the Ministry of Education in China published in 2018 titled ‘The Standard’ requires institutions to review how they assess the quality of their teaching (Ministry of Education, 2018). Moreover, “The Standard” creates a direction for student-focused teaching, where the motivation of learners becomes integral to planning and executing the studies. This is the first policy in China that changes the direction of the education system strategically and points to the need for dedicating more attention to the quality and the outcomes of studies rather than on merely providing the students with the materials for learning.
Moreover, in his work, Vygostky (2004) dedicates an entire section to the discussion of creativity and its integral role in learning. Vygotsky (2004) defines creativity as an act from which something new arises, which in itself can be aligned with learning as each student uses their prior knowledge and experiences to learn and applies this knowledge in a new and creative manner. According to Wang and Kokotsaki (2018), the role of the teacher is to foster creativity in their students and promote their learning and their ability to fulfil their potential, but this role is often under-recognised. The authors conclude that although the definition of creativity and creative teaching may vary, most agree that it constitutes creating the environment that stimulates the generation of creative ideas.
There are multiple ways of integrating creativity into the language learning process because this method implies that the teacher can use a non-traditional strategy to develop a curriculum. Moreover, as opposed to the ‘talking heads approach,’ creative teaching allows the students to be in charge of the process, which should help increase their engagement. For example, using Vygotsky’s ZPD theory, one can argue that allowing students who have reached a better understanding of a topic than others to explain it to their peers would promote the learning process. This is because peers qualify as tutors in cases when they have a better knowledge of the topic (Veraksa and Sheridan, 2018). Moreover, peer to peer teaching can be more insightful for the students because their classmates can use examples and strategies that the teachers are unaware of when teaching.
Evidently, the integration of creativity into the classroom where students learn English as their second language is essential not only because it improves the outcomes of learning for these students but also because it aids their development. Creativity stimulates the development of well-rounded students who are capable of creative problem solving and, therefore, can compete in the labour market once they graduate. Moreover, the integration of creativity is vital not only on the classroom level but also it is an important element of future teaching and learning policies. However, an evident problem that was during the literature overview for this paper is that teachers have multiple misconceptions about creative teaching, which means that they do not have a clear understanding of this topic and ways of integrating this methodology into practice (Cropley and Patston, 2019; Plucker, 2017). Hence, this section will discuss in detail how to design a creative lesson plan for young English learners and how to integrate it into practice.
An important factor to consider when implementing creative teaching is that this methodology focuses on the holistic development of a child instead of addressing one aspect of language learning such as grammar, reading or language comprehension. According to Pahwa (no date, p. 36), ‘art can enable primary school teachers to achieve holistic growth and development in children,’ It is vital for teachers to focus on developing skills as well as knower since if students know the vocabulary to begin a small talk in a foreign language but have not practised it sufficiently to be comfortable with it, they will not use it. Hence, when learning grammar with creative teaching, the students should be given tasks where they apply their grammar skills right away in real-life scenarios, for example, when describing their daily routines, their favourite movie or something else.
Despite the multiple examples presented above, the educators should not use the same set of activities for all of their classes. Jamili (2017) argues that creative teachers should adopt eclecticism when thinking about the methods they should use, which is based on an integration of different strategies and activities, depending on the needs of a particular class. Hence, the teacher should not focus on using one set of creative methods but rather focus on adopting the lesson content and activities depending on how the students respond and what are their gaps in learning and skills. Moreover, Jamili (2017) notes that eclecticism discourages teachers from choosing random approaches to creative teaching as not all of them may benefit a particular set of students. Hence, flexibility and the ability of a teacher to think themselves creatively is the key to the successful integration of creative teaching. The importance of culture in the context of teaching English in China is also important since the Western and Eastern traditions and the structure of the language differ greatly. In this sense, creativity helps the teacher expand on these differences and explain them to the students, although it creates some challenges and misconceptions related to creative teaching.
Examples of Creative Teaching
The next section will explain the already existing methods that allow the integration of creative teaching into the curriculum of English lessons for young learners. However, it is important to understand that teachers can develop their own ways of integrating creativity and arts into their lessons, based on the student’s needs assessment, their interest and preferences. The key to success is ensuring that the students are engaged and that the learning becomes meaningful for them. Moreover, since creativity is linked to problem-solving and the ability to find multiple solutions to a problem, it is only suitable for a teacher to brainstorm ideas for lessons and come up with creative tasks for their students on their own, thus beginning the process of integrating creativity into their work.
English Through Drama
There are many ways of teaching English creatively, and one of them is the English through drama developed by Melville et al. (2019). With this approach, the teacher and the students sit in a circle, and the area in the centre is for sketches and roleplay. Melville et al. (2019) recommend beginning these lessons with a simple game, such as introducing oneself by saying one’s first and last names. The teacher begins this, and the student on the left has to repeat the teacher’s name and say their own, while at the end, the last student says the names of all the previous individuals. Other students are encouraged to help people who forget other’s names or get confused, and the teacher can substitute the names with favourite food, country of origin, or any other simple topic. Arguably, this approach helps the students feel more comfortable when speaking and encourages group engagement before the main part of the lesson begins.
An example of the main part of the lesson that uses the English through drama technique would be a teacher preparing a mime for the students on a specific topic using a tense that these students are currently studying. For example, the educator can write the following on a blackboard: ‘What is my morning routine?’ and show five actions, such as waking up, washing one’s face, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to work using exaggerated movements. The students should guess these actions and name them using appropriate tense (Melville et al., 2019). This lesson is an example of how the teacher can encourage students to revise tenses and vocabulary by using creative techniques instead of mere recollection and teacher-talk methods.
Intrinsic Motivation and Curiosity
Another example of creative teaching should focus on the issue of motivation and how to encouraged students to learn on their own, with guidance from their educator. This approach implies that students must have their autonomy while completing tasks, paired with the ability to contact their educator for support and guidance when necessary. As Rich (2014) discusses, young English learners often apply their skills in the language outside the classroom during their leisure time activities, for instance, when playing video games. They engage with peers from all over the world and use the language in a real-life setting, which promotes learning. Hence, a teacher can leverage this by integrating the video games experience into the lesson plans and learning some key vocabulary and grammar constructs that the gamers may need when they are playing. This approach addresses the intrinsic motivation of young learners because they already possess an interest in using English during their leisure, and the educator can help them build on the knowledge they already have by discussing themes that are interesting to them.
Additionally, Liao et al. (2018) have conducted a study with a group of 256 elementary school English learners, who were divided into two groups. The group that received teaching using the creative strategies has shown significantly better results in terms of retaining their vocabulary and recalling the material that was taught when compared to the control group. Hence, the theory and the practical studies, together with the national policy of the Chinese government, support the need to integrate creative teaching strategies into the curriculum of young learners.
The Cambridge Assessment English website has a subsection dedicated to young learners mastering the language through games, and the author of the text suggests that educators can use video and online games to help children apply their English knowledge in scenarios they are familiar with (Learn Enligh through games, no date). This website also features links to games, such as ‘Minecraft: English Adventures with Cambridge’ suitable for children from the ages of eight to twelve, which will help them practice their skills, especially if they are shy (Learn Enligh through games, no date). Minecraft is a popular game on its own, and Cambridge’s adaptation of it allows young learners to play while using the vocabulary they are learning, which contributes to their engagement and a more meaningful learning experience.
Notably, to leverage the intrinsic motivation of the students, the educator has to assess their needs as well as their interests. Read (2015) encourages teachers to leverage the intrinsic interests of their students and integrating these interest in class discussions and lesson plans. This approach helps take advantage of the students intrinsic motivation as well since although they may find English lessons boring, there are some interest and topics outside the classroom that they enjoy.
Creativity can be integrated into celebrating the success of the students as well as the learning process. Read (2015) recommends collecting all of the creative works of the students and placing them on display. However, even simply acknowledging that the students have made progress and citing specific examples can be sufficient enough to support their intrinsic motivation and natural curiosity, which educators should not ignore.
English Through Play
The ‘English Through Play’ method is a teacher using various games that encouraged learners to use their English knowledge during the lesson. Read (2015) states that such methods are helpful in creating a positive atmosphere within a classroom where students do not feel as much pressure and can focus on learning rather than earning grades. Students can be asked to roleplay a dialogue or even dress up in clothes that would correspond to the theme.
In general, there are multiple ways of integrating creative teaching into a classroom. The teachers can use music to help the students relax or as a way of integrating their favourite pop songs into the lessons and encourage them to discuss the lyrics or the melody in English (Jamili, 2017). Additionally, they can use the ‘Total Physical Response’ method, where students have to show the verbs from their new vocabulary and act out situations in which these words apply. Using cartoons, photos, videos or other additional materials is also encouraged if it will be interesting for the students. With this, one may argue that creative teaching requires some form of experimentation and trial and error before understanding what the particular set of students needs and responds to best. Jamili (2017, para. 27) recommends ensuring that each creative activity includes a challenge, interesting content, personal element, novelty, intrigue, choice and some element of a fantasy and that learners are ‘incentivised by their teachers to take part in whatever classroom activity regardless of their level.’ With this in mind, the activity should also encourage the students to think, and problem solve actively while engaging with the content of the task and the topic that is being taught.
In summary, this paper analyses the creative teaching methodologies and addresses the barriers and theories in relation to them. Creative teaching has many definitions, most of which describe this approach as the one where a teacher designs lesson plans in a non-traditional manner to create a meaningful learning experience for the students. Additionally, creative teaching requires the student to solve problems, preferably by offering several distinctive solutions to them, which helps their holistic development. These characteristics are the benefits of the creative teaching methodology since contemporary young learners will have to work in competitive environments, where creativity and problem solving will be a requirement from their future employers. Moreover, parents now expect young learners to master English quickly, which pressures the teachers to use methodologies that would speed the language acquisition process. Hence, integrating creative teaching into the curriculum for the young learners of English is a requirement of contemporary society.
Another benefit of creative teaching is that it can take a plethora of forms. For example, ‘Teaching through Drama’ requires the teacher to act out different scenarios while the students explain what they see in English. Moreover, since contemporary children are fond of gaming, they often develop their foreign language skills by socialising online with other players, which can be integrated into the language teaching process. Thus, creative teaching can take many forms and leverage the interests that young learners already have to ensure their engagement in the process.
From the author’s personal experience of teaching English to young learners in Hangzhou, China, the issue of teacher-led methodologies remains valid to this day. Teachers in these classrooms often focus on giving students the standard task consisting of grammar exercises, reading and listening and in most cases, young learners feel disengaged with the process. Unlike adults, children are motivated by their curiosity and enthusiasm, and it is vital for the teacher to support this by giving students the tasks that they will enjoy. Motivation is an essential element of language teaching since young learners, as opposed to adults, are curious and want to explore new things, while their tutors have the capacity to support this intrinsic motivation and direct it to language learning. Moreover, under Vygotsky’s cognitive development theory, young learners’ capabilities are much higher when they are guided by a skilled tutor, which helps them go through their Zone of Proximal Development and master a skill, unlike when they have to study on their own. Considering this theory, young learner’s motivation and the impact of the socio-cultural environment on students, creative teaching becomes an effective way of addressing the challenges that English teachers face in contemporary classrooms.
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