ESL Activity: how to get those creative writing juices flowing…

How often do you do creative writing in class? I’ve started doing it with both low level teens and higher level B2 students. It’s a great way to get some creative juices flowing and testing the students’ imagination. All you need is some inspiration music, time in class, and a willingness to do some correcting, or not, because that’s the beauty as you’re just letting them write.

Great place to write…

The key to these activities is that they write, fast, and they can’t ask you for help, or sneakily check their phone on the sly for any words. If you want you can let them build on vocabulary after, but just let those creative vibes pour onto the page.

Here are a few ways that I’ve been doing creative writing in class.

  • At the start of class, write the name of the new topic on the board, for example ‘Food,’ put on some classical music, dance music, or whatever takes your fancy, and just let students write whatever they want about food. Explain that you want sentences and not lists. They could write about food that day, or food they like or hate, or describe different food. There are no rules; you’re just encouraging them to write.
  • You can do the same above at the end of the class, as like a revision of the topic you have done, or just get them to use the vocabulary they have learnt in class to create a text. This could be a great way to check they have understood the words and also make learning more memorable.
  • This one is for higher levels. I did this a couple of times this week. The topic coming up was travel, so I chose my favourite travel tune, Moby Porcelain, from The Beach. Then I wrote up ‘Travel to me is…’ with one class and ‘If I could travel forever I would…’ for the other. I told them they just had to write, whether it was silly, funny, or serious, until the song stopped. I did it myself too. Once the track was over I read mine, the students read theirs, we had a giggle, and that was about it. Next class I’ll start the topic on travel.
  • I’ve also done this to the Part 4 questions from the FCE speaking exams, the questions which delve a bit deeper into the minds of the students. Give students a question each and get them to write about it for a couple of minutes, maybe this time with some Mozart on in the background, and let them be inspired.
  • I haven’t tried this one, but you could also do it with the PET or FCE photos, and get students to write for a couple of minutes, with the music on, of course, and see what they can come up with.

Have you tried creative writing in class? What levels have to done it with, and what other activities have you managed to do?

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