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LINGUIST List 25.1277

Sat Mar 15 2014

Review: Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics: Argondizzo (ed.) (2012)

Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay <monicalinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Oct-2013
From: Lei Song <songlei4380126.com>
Subject: Creativity and Innovation in Language Education
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/24/24-1355.html

EDITOR: Carmen Argondizzo
TITLE: Creativity and Innovation in Language Education
SERIES TITLE: Linguistic Insights - Volume 154
PUBLISHER: Peter Lang AG
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Lei Song, Nankai University

SUMMARY

As volume 154 of the series ‘Linguistic Insights: Studies in Language and Communication’, which favors a cross-disciplinary approach, this volume explores the relationship between creativity and language education under the premise that the learning process is also a creative one. In addition to the preface, which sets the scene for this collection through presenting reflections of three scholars, this volume consists of four closely related sections which explore the concept of creativity from the perspectives of culture and language use, language teaching, and business and technology respectively. Section one investigates the impact of multicultural and multilingual contexts on people’s creative language acts which may in turn become effective sources for learning cultures and languages. Section two focuses on the creative use of pedagogical approaches, teaching tools and learning resources in various learning contexts. The development of intercultural communication and multiple language skills required in academic and professional settings, the business setting in particular, is discussed in Section three. The last section deals with the cultivation of creativity in language teaching and learning assisted by technology.

Section 1: Creativity, Cultures and Language Use

In Chapter 1, “Languages, Cultures and the Discourse of Advertising”, Régine Laugier explores characteristics of advertising discourse that turn it into useful material for language teaching and learning from both interlingual and intercultural perspectives. The invasive nature of advertising as a social act together with communicative features manifested in its images and texts makes advertising discourse a melting pot of languages and cultures. Having analyzed characteristics, language facts and intercultural features of advertising with reference to its images and wording, two points are emphasized in this chapter. On the one hand, the discourse of advertising makes creative use of linguistic changes to achieve persuasion and seduction effects. On the other hand, as a mirror of a specific culture, it goes beyond simple language skills to incorporate both social and cultural factors.

Chapter 2 “Evaluating Creativity and Innovation in Second Language Teachers’ Discourse” by Marie J. Myers investigates the impact that learning from peers has on a French as a second language teacher preparation course in Canada. A multimodality approach is adopted to report results of an experimental project carried out in 2009. This project with twenty-nine participants devised two activities, including a final group synthesis and a message exchange activity. The results, showing that increased creativity is one obvious gain of the group synthesis, together with findings that the message exchange activity proves to be a good way to express innovative ideas, indicate that a new orientation of professionalization, namely the incorporation of creative collaborative activities, is paramount in the teacher training course so as to encompass the large array of students’ diversified backgrounds. Additionally, working with peers can also help students establish strong connections and enable them to seek peer support in case of difficulties.

John B. Trumper and Marta Maddalon, in “Standard and Identity: Two Case Studies,” conduct a descriptive evaluation of the creative evolution languages undergo which mirrors social and cultural situations by describing two cases -- English and Italian. Under the pressure of international English in an increasingly globalized world, languages suffering from loss of specificity take different solutions to achieve survival or revival even though there is no general recipe for language survival. English and Italian are discussed in this chapter by taking into consideration their specific historical and social circumstances in Britain and Italy. Britain is characterized by a strong and long-existing standard which may inhibit diversity and create an identity crisis. This identity crisis has undergone drastic modifications and even faced internal and external anti-standard pressures. In contrast, in the case of Italy, the absence of a clear national concept blocks the formation of a standard language, thus leading to the instrumental use of geographical dialects as a symbol of local identity. In this sense, dialects function as a creative and expressive medium which revaluate local languages and cultures.

Section 2: Creativity and Language Teaching

Chapter 4, “Plurilingual Communication: A Polyglot Model for a Polyglot World,” by Rossella Pugliese and Serafina Filice, examines the role of plurilingualism in didactical innovations by proposing a plurilingual approach and a polyglot model. It explores whether such a plurilingual concept can utilize the existing relationship between various languages to increase students’ motivation and creativity so as to facilitate their foreign language learning. In order to achieve this, this chapter introduces an integrated approach towards the teaching and learning of two, three or four target languages in the same course within an Italian university context. It turns out that such an integrative approach manages to enhance students’ linguistic and cultural competence simultaneously.

In Chapter 5, “Learner Autonomy and Multiple Intelligences in Vocabulary Learning: A Student-centred Project”, Anila R. Scott-Monkhouse underlines the importance of learner autonomy and multiple intelligences in vocabulary learning by carrying out a project focused on students’ notes in the process of vocabulary learning. Students in this project were required to personalize, organize and improve their notes through a four stage process with the support of increased learner autonomy and activated multiple intelligences. The results indicate that personalized learning like this may increase students’ motivation and creativity and facilitate their language learning.

Ian Michael Robinson, in “Corpus Linguistics and Fairy Tales”, illustrates the practical use of corpus linguistics as an innovative teaching tool for EFL students. In response to a conflict between the sophisticated corpus linguistics and a lack of practical materials in the classroom, a small specialist corpus was first created from which data were extracted to produce a group of words and phrases. Students were then required to employ those words and phrases to produce creative stories. Among the twenty-eight stories completed and received, some showed considerable inventive talent, and a sample of those is provided in this chapter to demonstrate the supplementary function of this specific corpus in activating students’ creativity and enhancing their authentic language use.

Chapter 7, “The Use of Films as a Second and Foreign Language Acquisition Resource” by Fabrizia Venuta, investigates the use of another teaching tool -- films -- in second and foreign language acquisition by reporting data and experience gained through organizing film festivals for Italian as a second language students. Focusing on the teaching of English as a foreign language and of Italian as a second language, Venuta highlights the effectiveness of films as a teaching and learning tool. The use of films may not only easily engage students in creative activities, but also enable teachers to be creative in choosing appropriate films that meet students’ diversified interests and learning needs.

The last chapter of this section, “The Role of Grammar Teaching: A Proposal for Chinese Students of Italian L2” by Anna De Marco and Eugenia Mascherpa, illustrates a pedagogical approach to grammar teaching in the context of Chinese students learning Italian as an L2. It explores the hypothesis of ‘educational differences’ by presenting a model of differentiated and specific work for Chinese students. Having reviewed literature concerning the latest developments in the grammar teaching-learning relationship and also typological and cultural differences between the Chinese learners and Italian learners, the authors describe an experiment carried out between an experimental group and a control group to observe students’ reactions to specific corrective feedback and the facilitating role of grammar teaching in their learning process. They found that grammar teaching characterized by ‘Focus on Form’ can integrate sequences of acquisition into teaching practice and facilitate the process of language acquisition in a natural way.

Section 3: Creativity in Business Settings

This section opens up with a chapter titled “Intercultural Communication in Academic and Professional Settings: Voices from Two European Projects” by Carmen Argondizzo, Anna Maria De Bartolo, Lydia Gómez García, Martiña Piñeiro De La Torre, and Isabel Figueiredo-Silva. In order to reinforce language skills required in academic and professional contexts, the authors implemented two online learning tools, namely the Communicating in Multilingual Contexts (CMC) project and the Communicating in Multilingual Contexts Meets the Enterprise (CMC_E) project in a Portuguese university setting. The former project aims at developing academic language skills while the latter is designed to improve professional language competence necessary in the labor market. Moreover, a comparison is made between the CMC_E project and other online language courses to highlight the originality and authenticity of CMC_E. These two projects succeed in providing an online learning environment which may help to stimulate students’ creativity and enhance their academic and professional competence.

In Chapter 10, “Intercultural Competence and CLIL as a Way to Business Orientation in Spanish Foreign Language”, Erwin Snauwaert introduces a pedagogical approach that combines aspects of intercultural competence with a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach with a business orientation. A case study of a Spanish foreign language course is described, made up of three components, including business language, intercultural competence and CLIL practice. While intercultural competence is seen as the backbone of Spanish foreign language learning, the CLIL practice consists of two intercultural experiences. This combination proves to be successful in stimulating students’ creativity by making the course closer to business reality and also making the language learning for specific purposes more dynamic and creative.

Claire Elizabeth Wallis, in “From Reality Television to Reality Performance: The Use of Authentic Non-Didactic Materials”, underlines the importance of integrating authentic non-didactic materials into didactic course books by examining the use of metaphor as an integral feature of business and economics settings. Having analyzed the role of metaphor in business and economic discourse and the current insufficient use of metaphor in didactic materials, the author describes practices carried out at an Italian university and proposes integration between didactic textbooks and authentic resources including metaphor. The results indicate that the use of authentic materials can increase students’ motivation, promote learner autonomy and facilitate effective language learning.

Chapter 12, “Into the Business Brains of Learners: How Neuroscience Research can Guide the Development of Language Learning Materials” by Y.L. Teresa Ting, investigates the use of neuroscience research in language learning materials. In response to a call for the development of foreign language learning materials, this chapter presents a learning-centered activity about a core economics concept -- opportunity cost. The learning of content is considered separate from the learning of an academic language skill before integrating into ad hoc learning materials so as to render learning materials more acceptable and understandable. The overall aim is to introduce an innovative approach by creating brain-compatible learning materials so as to satisfy the knowledge and skill requirements of 21st century education.

In Chapter 13, “Creativity from the Familiar to the Foreign: Learning Business English with the help of Anglicisms”, Paola Gaudio explores the creative use of Anglicisms in the process of learning business English in an Italian context. Given the assumption that university students usually have business-related background knowledge, the author puts forward an innovative pedagogical approach, namely devising guided activities. This approach allows students to exploit what they already know, such as the appropriate use of non-adapted Anglicisms, so as to further explore less familiar foreign lexis of English as an L2. An approach of this kind enables learners of English as an L2 to realize the interlingual and cultural differences between Italian and English along with stimulated creativity.

Section 4: Creativity and Technology

The first chapter of this section, “The Usefulness of a Blended Learning Module in Erasmus Intensive Language Courses” by Teresa Gonçalves, is a part of the EU student mobility program. In order to respond to the students’ varying language needs, the author proposes integrating a tripartite modular structure (face-to-face learning, blended learning and a language and local culture immersion module) with a blended learning module in the context of learning Portuguese as a foreign language assisted by technologies and online resources.

Laura Capitani in Chapter 15, “Wikis in Language Teaching: Creativity and Technology,” focuses on the use of a specific social software tool, wikis, in educational contexts and how this tool can serve certain educational purposes by integrating creativity and learning. Having presented a definition and discussion of various strengths of wikis, the author elaborates on a learner-centred approach using Wikispaces at the Maastricht University Language Center. The wiki is proved to be effective in stimulating communication and collaboration between students and teachers so as to facilitate the learning process.

Chapter 16, “Online Creative Tasks to Enhance the Intercultural Value of a Multilingual Group of Students of Italian” by Cristiana Cervini, examines the role of online creative tasks in transforming multilingual and multicultural differences into an advantage manifested as a potential for creativity and intercultural education. In an experiment consisting of four heterogeneous groups of beginners in a self-learning Italian as L2 course, a mix of web 2.0 specific tools and Moodle is used to create a plurilingual online and offline learning environment. Such an approach can not only enhance the creativity and personalization of teachers’ practice but also supports the self-regulation of the students.

In Chapter 17, “Online News as a Didactic Source”, Maximillian Maurice Gold highlights the creative use of online news found on institutional news or information websites offering up-to-date and authentic materials. Compared with other websites, online news can function as an important didactic source by providing students with more relevant and stimulating learning materials. The approach is then applied to practical use in a tertiary education setting, which indicates that students who have been exposed to such online materials have greater self-awareness, learner autonomy, and increased interest, as well as strong feelings of achievement.

Cesare Zanca, in “Online Learning and Data Driven Learning in Translation and Language Teaching,” explores a pedagogical approach combining an online learning method with a data driven learning (DDL) method based on his teaching and research experience in the field of translation training and language teaching. A simple task designed in the author’s translation course requires university students of English as a foreign language to translate a popular Italian proverb into English with the help of online resources. The fact that students successfully produced a translation which was better than professional translators produced reveals that this approach with a focus on authentic linguistic data is effective in fostering learner autonomy, stimulating creativity as well as creating a learner friendly environment.

The last chapter of this volume, “An Online Course for Autonomous Learning of Swahili through Literature” by Maddalena Toscano, Graziella Acquaviva and Flavia Aiello, touches upon an online Swahili literature course for autonomous learning launched in the Oriental University of Naples in Italy. During this course, which consists of 22 teaching units, students are required to read and translate excerpts from Kenyan and Tanzanian authors’ work. A detailed description of three teaching units reveals that students hold a positive attitude towards this course which integrates information technology into a traditional course.

EVALUATION

The three interrelated chapters of Section 1 elaborate on the creative use of specific language acts and strategies against the backdrop of a globalized, multicultural and multilingual world. While young people would find the advertising discourse provided in Chapter 1 interesting since it is close to their language, linguists may consider Chapter 3 as thought-provoking and inspiring as it recalls and reflects on the evolution of languages over time.

Section 2 focuses on creative and innovative pedagogical approaches and learning tools employed in diversified educational contexts, including a plurilingual approach accompanied by a polyglot model, learner autonomy and multiple intelligences, corpus linguistics, and films, as well as grammar teaching. All of these chapters are insightful and can benefit both language learning and teaching. However, the title of this section “Creativity and Language Teaching” may indicate that creativity is only manifested in the language teaching process with language learning left untouched. Therefore, it may have been more appropriate to name this section “Creativity and Language Teaching and Learning”.

Language learning for specific purposes, such as language skills required in academic and professional settings, is emphasized in Section 3 under the topic of “Creativity in Business Settings”. While Chapter 9 deals with the development of academic and professional competence in both an academic and a labor market, the remaining four chapters are characterized by a business orientation. Apparently, Chapter 9 with its focus on both academic and professional competence is not fully covered in the topic of this section ‘Creativity in Business Settings’ (De Bartolo and Plastina, 2009). Thus, it seems proper to change the topic by taking the academic setting into consideration.

The last section, titled “Creativity and Technology,” sheds light on the role that technology plays in the connection between creativity and language education. The six chapters in this section present practical examples of effective technological techniques and online learning materials such as a blended learning module, wikis, online news, etc.

Generally speaking, this volume further extends the notion of creativity to the field of language education, especially in a European context, characterized by multiculturalism and multilingualism. This collection can be of great use to specialist language studies in the field of linguistic theory and applied linguistics, and may also have pedagogical implications for language teachers in designing creative and stimulating pedagogical approaches which facilitate students’ learning processes by increasing their interest, learner autonomy and creativity.

REFERENCES

De Bartolo, Anna Maria, and Anna Franca Plastina, 2009. The CMC Community of Practice: a virtual language learning environment for mobility students. In Argondizzo, Carmen (ed.), Studenti in mobilità e competenze linguistiche: Una sfida accademica, linguistica e culturale. Atti del XI Seminario nazionale AICLU. Volume 3 of Quaderno del Centro linguistico di ateneo, Università della Calabria: Rubbettino, 139-147.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Lei Song is a graduate student majoring in second language acquisition in the English Language Department at Nankai University. Her research interests focus on second language academic writing and language education.


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