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Free TESOL Journal Article: "Integrating Creativity Into an English as a Foreign Language Reading Classroom"
by Cheryl Wei-yu Chen

This article first appeared in TESOL Journal, Volume 9, Number 4. Subscribers can access issues here. Only TESOL members may subscribe. To become a member of TESOL, please click here, and to purchase articles, please visit Wiley-Blackwell. © TESOL International Association.

This article describes how creativity is integrated into an English as a foreign language (EFL) reading classroom for a class of adolescent readers in Taiwan. The chosen focal material was a book called Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber, and the four language learning units in which creativity was infused were (1) dramatic reading; (2) watching relevant videos; (3) poster sessions; and (4) writing possible plots for the sequel. Student works were included to showcase students’ creativity and how the units were closely connected to language learning. It is hoped that more language teachers will integrate creative elements into their teaching to transform their teaching and classrooms.


Creativity has manifested itself in many different ways in language classrooms (Maley & Peachey, 2015). In reading classrooms, creative language production can take many forms, including, but not limited to, role plays, poster sessions, and reading group discussions (Ferrer & Staley, 2016), and the creative process builds on the pillars of keeping an open mind to observe, explore, and generate outputs together. In this article, I will describe the design of my reading class for a group of adolescents learning English as a foreign language (EFL) in Taiwan.

The reading course was designed for a group of 50 students in Year 1 of the Junior College Division, which is equivalent to the first year of high school with students freshly graduating from junior high schools (the average student age is 14 years old). The chosen focal teaching material was a book called Our Iceberg Is Melting written by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber (2006). It is a fable about a group of penguins in Antarctica trying to adapt to the situation of a melting iceberg. It is also a charming story rich in figurative language as the penguins speak and act like humans. In this course, the book was read not just for surface meaning and reading comprehension; it served as the catalyst for many creative language tasks in four units as described below.


To prepare students to express themselves with their voices by reading aloud, the book was divided into seven parts. Each student group (between seven and eight students) was responsible for recording a part and to play their audio file to the class. Exemplary dramatic readings (such as Ollie Heath's reading of the classic English picture book Gruffalo ( were played in the class. After each group played its audio file to the class, I implemented three mini‐lessons to address common pronunciation problems—namely, the pronunciation of past tense English verbs, syllable segmentation, and sentence intonation. (I reinforced the pronunciation rules continuously throughout the semester.) I designed a follow‐up dramatic reading activity where every group of students had to read and record the same passage taken from Our Iceberg Is Melting. The instructor commented on the reading fluency and accuracy of the end products in class and continued to encourage students to practice reading aloud.

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This article first appeared in TESOL Journal, Volume 9, Number 4. For permission to use text from this article, please go to Wiley-Blackwell.

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Free TJ Article: "Integrating Creativity Into an EFL Reading Classroom"
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