Fostering Creativity in Language Learning and Bilingual Education

Presenter: Leonor María Martínez Serrano

Affiliation: University of Córdoba, Spain

Chosen format: Presentation


Schools kill creativity, argues Ken Robinson in his landmark TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” (2006), drawing educators’ attention to a skill that should be central to current school curricula. However, the reality is that , instead of growing into imagination, students get progressively “educated out of it,” which would be the desirable outcome of formal schooling. Nobody would question the decisive role played by creativity, not just in the field of education, where a growing body of research suggests it can improve students’ academic performance (Fisher, 2004), but also in our everyday lives more generally. As Fehér (2015) has pointed out, creativity is “a life skill we use on a daily basis” ( p. 64). In the Know ledge Age, where new knowledge is being massively produced and rehearsed on an unprecedented scale, creativity sh ould be on a par with such fundamental skills as literacy (or pluriliteracies), critical thinking and lifelong learning. Upon closer scrutiny, language itself is a creative phenomenon in itself, always mediating the process of disciplinary knowledge construction that occurs in classrooms all over the world. Every single word or sentence we say or write is created on the spur of the moment, in a unique moment of communication. But because it is almost the very air we breathe, because “[l]inguistic creativity in particular is so much part of learning and using language […] we tend to take it for granted” ( Maley 2015, p. 9). This paper explores the role of creativity in quality language learning and bilingual education, with a focus on CLIL settings, where languages(L1, L2 and L3) are both vehicles of communication and tools for co-constructing subject-specific curricular knowledge. Creativity can be cultivated in CLIL teaching throu gh the medium of a wide range of strateg ies that will be the main focus of this paper. In learning content subjects, students need to be exposed to learner-centred experiences that encourage dialogic learning, critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving, while they are also given opportuni ties to articulate their understanding of content in a variety of formats, in accordance with the spirit of Universal Design for Learning.


Keywords: language learning, bilingual education, CLIL, creativity, UDL2
Fehér, J. (2015). From everyday activities to creative tasks. In A. Maley & N. Peachey (Eds.), Creativity in the English language classroom (pp. 64-72).British Council.
Fisher, R. (2004). What is creativity? In R. Fisher and M. Williams (Eds.), Unlocking creativity: Teaching across the curriculum (pp.6–20). Routledge.
Maley, A. (2015). Overview: Creativity–the what, the why and thehow. In A. Maley & N. Peachey (Eds.), Creativity in the English language classroom (pp. 6-13). British Council.
Robinson, K. (2006). Do Schools Kill Creativity? utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare
Lecturer in the Department of English and German Philology at the University of Córdoba (Spain). Her research interests include CLIL, bilingual education, Canadian Literature, Ecocriticism, and High Modernism. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia (Canada), the University of the West of Scotland (UK), the University of Bialystok (Poland) and the University of Oldenburg (Germany). She has co-edited the volumeModern Ecopoetry: Reading the Palimpsest of the More-Than-Human World (Brill, 2021) and authored the monograph Breathing Earth: The Polyphonic Lyric of Robert Bringhurst (Peter Lang, 2021).