Building Skills in the World Language Class

Sparking Creativity in the World Language Classroom: Strategies and Ideas to Build Your Students’ Language Skills
By Deborah Blaz and Tom Alsop
(Routledge/Eye On Education, 2023 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Melinda Stewart

For as long as I can remember, I have seen the names Deborah Blaz and Tom Alsop on world language resources, in catalogs as well as on my own classroom shelf.

When I sat down to read their most recent collaboration, Sparking Creativity in the World Language Classroom, I felt like I was listening to advice from two long-time friends. Blaz and Alsop have over one hundred years of service between them, and even after all that time they continue to bring joy, highlight collaboration, and speak to the power of appreciation.

In their book they explore the importance of fostering creativity in language learning. Blaz and Alsop present ideas to support the argument that creativity plays a significant role in enhancing students’ engagement and their overall language development.

In the classroom the teacher plays a vital role in guiding and inspiring students. One effective approach is through modeling, where the teacher demonstrates desired behaviors and attitudes. Blaz and Alsop acknowledge the importance of maintaining clear expectations, but emphasize the need for variety and change.

By showcasing enthusiasm, curiosity, and a love for learning, the teacher sets an example for students to follow. Blaz and Alsop are educators who have been setting this example for a lifetime.

Creating Thinkers with Confidence and Creativity

A teacher’s ultimate goal is to create thinkers, individuals who can approach challenges with confidence and creativity. To do so, it is sometimes important to break away from routine and embrace spontaneity, allowing for moments of joy and unpredictability to foster a sense of excitement and engagement among students. However, according to the authors, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to creativity is coming up with the initial idea.

To overcome this challenge, their book provides practical strategies and activities that encourage learners to think outside the box and explore new perspectives. Blaz and Alsop emphasize the importance of being inspired by what someone else has done. They encourage teachers to explore a variety of resources to find inspiration for their lessons. This book is one of those resources.

Blaz and Alsop repeatedly and intentionally ask guiding and reflective questions as they present ideas. In doing so, they model how incorporating repetition into lessons reinforces skills and creates a sense of familiarity. By providing familiar structures with consistent guidelines, teachers can create a space where students feel comfortable taking risks and expressing their creativity.

Sparking Creativity in the World Language Classroom is designed to be applicable to various language classrooms and align with educational standards. It provides us with examples from different language programs, showcasing how creativity can be integrated into different curricula and teaching approaches and constantly connecting the ideas to engaging our students and our communities.

Melinda Stewart has been an educator for 30 years. She has an MA in Teaching, Education and Learning and has done graduate work in the areas of English as a Second Language, Reading, and Spanish. She is currently working as a Spanish teacher and English Learners in the Mainstream (ELM) coach at Fairmont Junior Senior High School. Melinda is an MEA and AFT professional development facilitator and trainer who has a deep passion for learning and equity.



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