Creative Writing in Foreign Language Teaching

Term Paper, 2009

11 Pages, Grade: 1,0




1. What is Creative Writing ?

2. Why is Creative Writing important?

3. Creative Writing as Process Writing
3.1 Pre-Writing
3.2 Writing
3.3 Post-Writing

4. How to Mark Creative Writing ?

Conclusion - Why I Think That Creative Writing is Important


1. Ideas for Tasks
2. Exemplary Task


The idea of creativity in the classroom first came up in the 1970s as a means of “Erneuerung, Veränderung [und] Selbstentfaltung” and in order to combat “Verkrustung, Erstarrung [und] Routine” (Thaler in Klippel 2008: 236). At first merely German lessons were affected by this new trend but soon afterwards it became a part in foreign language teaching as well. Today creative writing is considered by many scholars as an important component of teaching foreign languages. In the following it will be discussed what creative writing actually is and why it is important. Furthermore, the process character and the question how creative writing should be marked will be examined.

1. What is Creative Writing ?

In order to examine the importance of creative writing in the classroom thoroughly, it is first of all necessary to define what creative writing actually is. The word creativity can be traced back to the Latin verb creare which can roughly be translated as to bring something into being, to produce something. It is, however, hardly possible to find a precise definition since the term is used in various ways in different fields of expertise (cf. Brenner 1990: 15). Focusing on creativity in the literary sense, it can basically be considered as the ability to develop “neues Denken, Empfinden oder Handeln […], also Transformationen einleiten [und] aus Altem Neues machen” (Brenner 1990: 15). It remains unclear whether the new that is produced has to be something completely new or merely new concerning the individual’s general knowledge and experience. Considering the context in which creative writing will be examined in this paper, namely school, one has to confine the new to the individual student. Thus, creativity in school means that students have to explore “bislang unzugängliche Möglichkeiten des Denkens, Empfindens und Formulierens“ (Brenner 1990: 16).

Similar to this definition, Teichmann describes creative writing not as the production of a completely new, independently created text but rather as every written work in which the individual student combines well or little known forms in order to create something new for him or her (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 250). Thus, Teichmann also considers the student’s knowledge as an important criterion according to which the creativity of each individual student can be defined.

In short, creative writing can not be generally defined. It depends on the student’s knowledge what can be considered new and thus creative. Contrary to traditional tasks every student produces an individual result (cf. Thaler in Klippel 2008: 238) which is creative with regard to his/her experience.

2. Why is Creative Writing important?

After having defined creative writing in school, it is furthermore important to examine why creative writing should actually be part of foreign language teaching. An important feature of the teaching of foreign languages is the holistic approach. If one wants information to be saved in different parts of the brain this approach is required (cf. Thaler in Klippel 2008: 239). In the left hemisphere parts that are responsible for the logic, organising and planning functions can be found. The right hemisphere contains the creative part of the brain which is in charge of everything emotional, imaginative and associative. This part is often neglected in school. However, only if both halves of the brain are used simultaneously, can the information be saved for a longer period of time (cf. Thaler in Klippel 2008: 239). Since creative writing combines planning and organising, located in the left hemisphere, with the emotional and imaginative one, located in the right hemisphere, it provides an effective means in training one’s long-term memory.

In addition to that, processes that take place during creative writing can be compared to those of language acquisition. Language acquisition takes place through trying out and building hypotheses which are modified if they appear to be wrong or might have led to miscommunication. In this context, it is psychologically important that one is willing to take a risk. It is equally important that one has cognitive strategies at hand that allow one to build hypotheses and modify them if they prove to be wrong. These processes that take place in language acquisition have to be systematically encouraged and practiced in foreign language teaching (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 250). Creative writing poses a very good opportunity to improve those abilities, since it includes elements such as word formation and cohesion and coherency. Moreover, writing takes place much more slowly than talking so that the students have more time to automate those abilities without being under pressure (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 250). The additional time enables students to hesitate and helps them to reinforce their abilities. Furthermore, they have enough time to come up with strategies in order to solve problems that occur when formulating a text in a foreign language. Especially students that have difficulty in learning foreign languages benefit from the lower pace in which writing takes place since they are under less pressure (cf. Meisinger: 7).

Another important aspect is that creative writing provides a chance for variation so that the often complained about monotony can be counteracted (cf. Meisinger: 4). The teacher can work with the students on many different creative tasks that can even appeal to all senses. In addition, it is possible to allow students to write texts according to their own interests (cf. Meisinger: 4) which is hardly ever the case when one is working on other than creative tasks.

All in all, it becomes clear that creative writing, although sometimes considered as non-productive and not sufficiently dealt with in the classroom, should be a central didactic component (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 250) in foreign language teaching.

3. Creative Writing as Process Writing

Creative writing cannot be considered as merely the production of a text in one step but has to be regarded as a process. In order to succeed in writing a creative text it is necessary that the students approach the task systematically and have the opportunity to go through different stages during their writing process. On account of that the process of creative writing can be divided into the pre-writing stage, the writing stage and the post-writing stage.

3.1 Pre-Writing

The pre-writing stage is concerned with everything that takes place before the actual writing. Since many students have problems to start writing, this stage is to be considered essential for the students’ success.

First of all it is important for teachers to find appropriate stimuli because they influence the students’ reactions to a great extent. Those stimuli can be either linguistic or also non-linguistic ones (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 253), for instance auditive or visual stimuli such as music or paintings and pictures. After that, it is necessary to clarify, together with the students, what the subject of the task is (content), what text format should be used (genre) and what vocabulary might be needed for the task (language) (cf. Bludau 1998: 14). The collection of words and phrases can be considered a relief, particularly for students who have difficulty in finding an appropriate beginning of a text. The vocabulary work can for instance be done in the form of brainstorming, clustering or mindmapping (cf. Thaler in Klippel 2008: 239). At first glance, those preparations before writing may seem restrictive. However, the frame or the guidelines that are offered to the students are actually a great relief since the students can fully concentrate on how to write their story and let their imagination run free according to the set frame. If the students have to come up with completely new ideas without facing any restrictions, they might even get discouraged or frustrated on account of the lack of ideas and too much time and energy would be wasted (cf. Thaler in Klippel 2008: 239).

In addition to the above mentioned advantages, pre-writing activities also raise the possibility of the co-operation between the students. They can discuss their ideas in a “geschützen Rahmen” (Teichmann in Timm 1998: 254), i.e. in group work with their fellow students without being afraid of mistakes or bad marks. Together they can detect problems and find solutions, ask questions and consider, discard or verify their plans (cf. Teichmann in Timm 1998: 254). Morever, if the student-teacher-interaction is replaced by student-student-interaction, the students themselves are turned into the, as Holtwisch formulates it, “Sprachhandelnde[…]” (Holtwisch in NM 1985: 222). All of those pre-writing activities increase the students’ awareness of structuring a text and also lessen the students’ fear of a task since they have enough opportunities to plan and structure their texts. In addition, it is thus ensured that every student has understood the assignment and can concentrate on writing his/her creative story.


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Creative Writing in Foreign Language Teaching
University of Hamburg
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creative, writing, foreign, language, teaching
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Kirsten Hinzpeter (Author), 2009, Creative Writing in Foreign Language Teaching, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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