Ecriture créative

A guide to developing creative writing

by Marian Carty University of Cumbrie

(Les exemples sont en français !)

Developing the learners’ creative ‘rucksack’

For pupils to use language creatively they require confidence as well as some linguistic competence. From the outset they need to be encouraged to ‘play around’ with language and build their personal  ‘creative rucksack’ .Within every class, whatever the level of linguistic competence, there is enormous potential for using the pupils’ imagination to develop creativity. However, we need to provide them with structures as starting points. These structures will give them that confidence to enable them play around with language. Creative writing is an excellent support to oral confidence and competence. When planning creative outcomes always ensure an oral focus. If they write a poem, they recite it, if they write a ‘rap’, they rap it, if they write a song, they sing it, if they write a story, they tell it.


1- The stages in creative writing can follow a pattern something like this:

  • A motivation to write

What is the purpose? Who is the audience? Is the content of their writing meaningful to them.

  • A stimulus for the imagination

This can be a photo, a painting, a song, a joke, a poem, a video clip from a film and advert. In fact the stimulus can be almost anything. Think provocative!

  • Brainstorming of vocabulary and structures

A useful way of doing this is in categories. This will be mainly ‘prelearned’ language. However you can contribute too, this will  extend their vocabulary. At this stage it is appropriate to accept some English, you then provide the foreign language equivalent.

  • Form

Initially you provide the form, but as the pupils’ ‘creative rucksack’ begins to fill, they can begin to choose the form.

  • Dictionaries

These can be extremely useful if the pupils no how to us e them, ie as a last resort. If they do not, they will be more of a hindrance than a help.

  • Presentation method

How will they present their work? Will it be to the small group the whole class? Will it be ‘published’ in a booklet? Will they use the OHP. Will they need to learn it off by heart/

  • First draft

Do this in pairs. A blank page can be very daunting. Working collaboratively as this will give them greater confidence to fill the ‘blank page’. You can either then go on to produce a collective creative effort as with the ‘Rap’ described in SECTION x, or they can produce a joint effort in pairs.

  • Reviewing, revising and editing

Encourage them to check their work for accuracy and meaning. Encourage them to read out loud to see if it sounds ‘good’ or right They will need help and guidance to do this. They may not have developed sufficient  linguistic awareness to do this. Stick to the foreign language when giving advice.

  • Rehearsal

It is important that opportunities are provided for the pupils to rehearse.

Encourage them to use props, music, movement, dance to enhance their performance. They will need to work on pronunciation and intonation in particular.

  • Presentation and publication

The pupils present to their audience, their group, class or in an assembly.  Their work can also be compiled in  a class book which can be read by other groups of pupils.

  • Audience response

By presenting  and publishing their writing,  the work they do in foreign languages is given a higher profile. This will boost their confidence and help them to develop positive attitudes to the foreign languages that they are learning.

2- Ideas that have worked in the classroom

             1 – Setting language to well known tunes 

            2 – Poetic forms 

  • Acrostics
  • Cinquains
  • Octopoems
  • Daily Routine Blues 
  • Si… était… serait…. 
  • Mathematical poems                     
  • Tu dis que… Mais…

            3 – To write a love story 

            4 – Une chanson en cercle 

            5 – Using pictures

            6 – Singing the ‘Daily Routine’ blues 

            7 – Brainstorm and write up for pupil reference