Skip to main content

Can Foreign Language Educators Hone Students’ Creativity?

Creativity and learning are two compatible processes that can go hand in hand. Integrating both will make them strengthen each other.

Creativity is not a new concept, but the accelerant changes caused by the encroachment of technology on all life aspects have made it a prominent buzzword among business leaders and educators. More and more jobs have been being taken over by automated technology. To adapt to such a new technological environment, organizations should keep on making innovations. To innovate, having creative staff is a must. The result of a study on 35 million UK job adverts from 2013-2017 shows that the need for creativity is likely to grow in importance in the future workforce. It is confirmed by a study (2014) involving 1,000 U.S. hiring managers which revealed that 78% of the participants view creativity is required for economic growth; 85% believe it is valuable to society, and 94% agree it is key when evaluating candidates for a job.

Despite the growing need for creative talents, most current graduates are found unprepared fill in the need because the present educational system does not yet facilitate creativity development since the system is still dominated by the first Industrial Revolution paradigm, i.e. to train students to be good workers who follow instructions. Such a paradigm not only ignores but also kills creativity.

Can English as a Foreign Language Educators contribute to creativity development among the students? The answer is yes for four reasons: (1) all individuals are naturally creative, and (2) creativity is a manageable process and a skill that can be honed; (3) creativity process is compatible with the student-centered learning process; and (4) a foreign language classroom is a very suitable environment to develop creativity. All EFL teachers need to do is infusing creativity into the process and activities of learning employing the student-centered approach.

By definition, creativity is the process and the product of creating novel, effective, and ethical products, actions, or ideas (Cropley, 2011). These criteria (novel, effective, and ethical) designate three hierarchical levels of creativity, in which novelty is the lowest qualification and ethics is the highest. Thus, an idea that is novel, appropriate, generative and influential is more creative than an idea that is only novel and appropriate. Novelty indicates that creativity’s process and products should be something different from the existing ones. Effectiveness imposes that good and rewarding creativity should work and be useful--be it in the aesthetic, artistic, spiritual, or material sense. Ethics accentuates that creativity should not be destructive, selfish, criminal, and harmful.

Everybody is naturally creative, although some people’ creativity is different from others’ creativity in types and levels. Beghetto and Kaufman (2009) divides creativity into four levels: (1) “Big C” level which belongs to the eminent creative person (e.g., Mozart and Edison); “Pro C” level, possessed by experts in their fields (e.g., musicians and scientists); (3) “little-c” level, regarded as creative by peers (e.g., winning a writing contest); (and) “mini-c”, i.e., individuals creativity used in learning (e.g., learning insights), which is shown by most students.

Each of these creativity enables the owner to create ideas, thoughts, and objects that are different by through a creative process. Creativity should not always be regarded as creating something out of nothing, but as the act of uncovering, combining, rearranging, regrouping and synthesizing already existing elements is more appropriate. Thus, when a student is creating a unique expression using existing words, it is creativity.
The process of creativity and student-centered learning are essentially compatible. Based on the constructivist theory, learning is viewed as a process of generating understanding, knowledge, skills, and attitude through experience and reflection on the experience.  Thus, both learning and creativity are both a producing process. Similar to a creative thinker  who  generates  something  new,  a  student  who  learns  using  the  constructivist approach is also an active creator, not a passive recipient, of knowledge. As a  creator,  he  actively  asks,  explores,  and  assesses  what  he  knows  during the learning process.

The compatibility of the process of creativity and learning makes it possible to integrate both so that they go hand in hand. By so doing, they will strengthen each other. Therefore, infusing creative thinking into any learning process will essentially not bring an extra burden to both students and teachers. Rather, it will make learning more effective because creative thinking is also an important learning tool (In Bloom’s taxonomy, creation is placed at the highest level of thinking). Research findings (Adesope et al, 2010; Ghonsooly & Showqi, 2012; Vasudevan, 2013) revealed that learning a foreign language significantly enhances one’s creativity, and, conversely, the integration of creativity increases students’ language skills proficiency.

Why is a foreign language classroom a very suitable environment for honing creativity? Simply because every individual naturally has linguistic creativity which enables him to keep on creatively exploiting the foreign language system in phonological, morphological, or syntactic domains. If a student is facilitated with appropriate environment, he will be able to create an unlimited number of new, fresh and imaginative expressions and solutions by manipulating, combining, or recombining a finite number of existing items of phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, or phrasal units. During the process, the student could also identify new conceptual structures and generate unexpected associations between previously distinct concepts. 

Author: Parlindungan Pardede (


Popular posts from this blog

Types and Functions of Plot

Type of Plots  The plot used in fictions can be differentiated into four types: linear, episodic, parallel, and flashback. The most common plot employed in short stories is the linear plot. Some short stories, though quite rarely, also use flashback plot. The episodic and parallel plots, however, are found only in long fiction, i.e. novels. Short storied do not use episodic and parallel plots because short stories normally concentrate on a single event with a very limited number of characters, while episodic and parallel plots include a series of events or more than one plot. The following section describes each plot briefly. The Linear Plot The linear plot (sometimes is also called dramatic or progressive plot) presents action or occurrences chronologically. It typically starts with an exposition (or introduction to the setting and characters) and the conflict. After that, the rising action follows which leads to a climax. Soon after the climax, falling action emerges which brings

An Analysis of the Theme of Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge”

  An Analysis of the Theme of Hemingway’s “Old Man at the Bridge” Introduction The theme is one of the most interesting elements of fiction, including a short story. It refers to the central idea or meaning that the author wants to convey to the readers. Some stories convey a single theme, but some other stories have several themes. Since short stories are related to human life, Alternbend and Lewis (1966, p. 78) define theme as “The general vision of life or the more explicit proposition about human experience that literature conveys”. In relation to this, one of the easiest ways to determine the theme of a short story is by asking ourselves, “What does the story say about life? The theme of fiction is generally presented through the other elements of fiction, particularly the plot and characterization. This article is a venture to analyze the theme of Hemingway’s Old Man at the Bridge . This story is interesting to analyze due to two reasons. First, it is based on Hemingway’s exp

An Analysis of the Theme and Plot of "A Long Walk Home"

  An Analysis of the Theme and Plot of   A Long Walk Home Summary of the Short Story Boccaro’s  A Long walk Home  is a short story that tells how Jackson, a teen with a delinquent tendency, grows wiser after experiencing a bitter experience with his father. It begins when one morning Jackson is asked to have his father’s car repaired in a garage 18 miles away from their home on condition that when the car is finished, Jackson should pick his father at 4 p.m. since the car requires a few hours to be serviced, after dropping of it to the garage, he watches some movies up to 6 p.m. To avoid his father from getting angry for his being late, Jackson says that it takes long to repair the car without realizing that his father has phoned the garage and knows there’s no problem with the car. Jackson’s lie makes his father angry to himself for his failure to educate his son. So he refuses to get into the car and walks home. This makes Jackson very regretful and decides not to lie to his father e