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Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Creative Writing in the Language Class Room Franz Andres Morrissey from the outside, looking iu the inside perspective.

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Presentation on theme: "Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Creative Writing in the Language Class Room Franz Andres Morrissey from the outside, looking iu the inside perspective."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Creative Writing in the Language Class Room Franz Andres Morrissey from the outside, looking iu the inside perspective Matthias Rüegger

2 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM The Programme Round-up and participants’ feedback16.50 – Poetry Reading by Matthias Rüegger and FAM16.20 – Readback16.00 – Individual writing in circuit resource rooms/groups, coffee and biscuits en passant – Introduction to individual writing activities15.10 – Plenary Writing Session14.20 – Introductory Presentations “Creative Writing in the Language Classroom” – 14.20

3 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM The Plan Some opinionated views Some Observations Some Mis-Conceptions about Creative Writing

4 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Observations I … often don’t like “doing poetry” in school Students … write poetry on their own … often don’t feel comfortable “doing poetry” Teachers … often find student poetry predictable / not very good

5 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Observations II Language Methodology … focuses on oral skills  writing is a neglected skill … uses writing as consolidation for oral work … a useful means to express oneself … allows learners to “produce language” at their own pace

6 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Opinionated Views I Writing could be … a useful means for independent language practice … allows learners to “produce language” at their own pace … a means for students to express what interests them

7 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Opinionated Views II Poetry … is of a “size” that allows dealing with a text within one or two lessons (writing and discussing … could harness learners basic willingness to write poems as they often do by themselves … may allow students to write about something they deeply care about: themselves

8 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Some (Mis-)Conceptions means anything goes cannot be “quality-controlled” in a foreign language is tough tougher than in one’s own produces hackneyed and predictable stuff Creative Writing

9 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Creative Writing promotes precision inanything goes relies (peer group) feedback and rewriting for enhanced quality no “quality control” uses the more spontaneous approach learners have to a foreign language in a foreign language ?! needs thought-out inputhackneyed stuff text structure language control choice of vocabulary and idiom

10 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Over to Matthias Rüegger, who knows what he’s talking about.

11 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM 4 reasons for using creative writing in the classroom: Weakens their inhibitions towards using the foreign language by encouraging them to play with the language Increases their range of vocabulary and structures by focusing on precision of expression

12 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM 4 reasons (ctd.) Increases their ability to appreciate and interpret literature by focusing on their own creative process and on peer review of their material. Can shape a positive attitude towards literature and sometimes even encourage them to continue writing, be it in their mother tongue or in a second language

13 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections on the Front Line: Writing needs time Review, reading and editing needs even more time. For in-depth work, 90 minutes are rarely enough; useful to work half-day or daywise. Writing short stories needs more time than writing poetry. Clear Instructions Students are often not used to these kinds of activity and are easily confused—this can ruin an entire activity.

14 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Strategies for overcoming inhibitions Suitable: Input, existing material, "answering" techniques. Horror vacui is very common—input can help. Helping students Structures can help, but also hinder. Flexible approach is best: If you see that they struggle, help with more input, more structure. Too much structure (like "15 lines, ABABCDCDEFEF rhyme scheme, etc.) doesn't help.

15 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Encourage, don't force Writing is something extremely personal, so it is very easy to hurt people's feelings. You don't want them never to write again, you want the opposite. So, don't force people to read their stuff, especially in plenary sessions. Small feedback groups often work better than big ones; students are not as shy in small groups.

16 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Cultivate feedback Cultivating feedback helps the writer to gauge what he has done, its effects, its quality; it helps the reader to express precise views on texts and think about what works and what doesn't. Rhis is very useful also for dealing with literature in the classroom.

17 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Encourage playfulness Students often show too much respect for literature; this leads to fear, an attitude of "don't touch". Encouraging them to write texts that do not have to be serious, that can be funny, absurd etc. and still be good helps them overcome this.

18 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Encourage playfulness Students often show too much respect for literature; this leads to fear, an attitude of "don't touch". Encouraging them to write texts that do not have to be serious, that can be funny, absurd etc. and still be good helps them overcome this.

19 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Encourage playfulness Students often show too much respect for literature; this leads to fear, an attitude of "don't touch". Encouraging them to write texts that do not have to be serious, that can be funny, absurd etc. and still be good helps them overcome this.

20 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Strategies for dealing with negative material/attitudes These can be extremely annoying. It includes refusal to work creatively (rare), racist/violent/sexist material (less rare). Solutions include: –Peer review before presentation: read-backs in stages (only the material the students consider best is read in class). –Making the rules (no violent material etc.) clear before beginning on activities.

21 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (ctd) Show, don’t tell Students (and authors, at times) tend not to trust the reader enough, tend to tell rather than show. Focusing on this produces better quality and more interesting writing. Feedback from the teacher is often necessary to help stay on course. If successful, it can lead to a greater appreciation of literature and of what makes a good text good.

22 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Reflections (concluded) Don't expect too much While the majority of texts will be average, often predictable, there will also be texts are above average and sometimes texts that really stand out. What more do you want?

23 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM And now for some Activities to demonstrate how this works.

24 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Warm-up: Whacky Similes plays on unpredictability (like“Consequences”) promotes left-field thinking demonstrates the construction of similes

25 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM As ________________ (Adj. e.g. cold) as ________________ (Adj.) enough to a ________________ (Noun person e.g. woman) is like To ________________ (Vb, e.g. run) as if To ________________ (Vb) until (Vb) ______________ing like a a scream in a spiral staircase make you smile with glee a cold hand on a warm back gentle harsh teacher

26 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Starting up and closing down: First and Last Lines Can help the writer overcome the horror vacui of the empty page, the not-knowing-how-to-begin. Because it works with input, with language material already there, it can reduce students' shyness towards writing in a foreign language. Is also a form of output control and thus enhances precision and thoughtfulness.

27 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM I To be alive: not just the carcass … Why all this music? II Once a day, Mrs Frazer, eighty years old, … resting on the swollen stomach of the tide. III Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress … I feel their absence and I burn.

28 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Language Play: The Sound and the Fury provides a playful approach to language structure encourages playing with the sound of the language avoids the pitfalls of having to steep a poem in meaning 1.Assign wordclasses to words in the list which appeal to you. (the actual wordclass is not important!) 2.Imagine what type of a poem this will be. (curse/incantation, heroic ballad, modern poem, etc.) 3.Write the poem using only the words from the list as content words (nouns, adjectives, verbs). Pay attention to the morphology!

29 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Finding a voice: Animal Vegetable Mineral requires you to adopt an unusual point of view encourages the use of elements of riddles for lively imagery helps towards creating a voice different from one’s own 1.Pick a card as they are passed around. 2.Brainstorm a few ideas about what the world would be like from the point of view of the item on the card. 3.Begin “automatic writing” to the music, form not being important just yet. 4.Go through the material and select the ideas you find new and interesting; combine them into a poem.

30 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Individual Writing Sessions “Picture them”: using photographs and paintings to work towards an interior monologue Genre: poem or monologue (drama?) “Remembering Aunt Julia”: explore a memory of an older relative through sensuous imagery Genre: poem, memoir “An old song resung” retell a myth or folktale, using a pivotal moment in the story as a centrepiece Genre: poem, short story (I-narrative?), dramatic sketch

31 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM Group Writing Sessions “Value added Dialogue”: working on an improvised dialogue in pairs, using fixed numbers of words Genre: dramatic sketch “Conflict situations”: writing a dialogue in pairs with a given conflict scenario Genre: poem, memoir “Negotiating stories” in groups of three develop a plot for a short story through negotiation Genre: short story

32 Fachschaftstagung November 2006 © FAM For more material to use in class you can download the BBC/British Council teaching pack Creative Ways from


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