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Creativity Through Oracy: A Mixed Methods Study of Creativity in L2 Talk



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Chan, Hui Ki 


There has been widespread interest in the development of creativity across different sectors. Policymakers, schools and corporations have increasingly recognised the importance of creativity as a higher-order thinking skill and are keen to help people to become more creative in order to adapt to the rapidly-changing world. Second language teachers, needless to say, have not been exempted from this 21st century skills demand. Nevertheless, it appears to be challenging for teachers to embed the teaching of creativity into the language classroom, where the primary goal prioritises teaching the targeted second language (L2). In light of this situation, this study emerges in response to the changing nature of second language education (SLE), and attempts to understand how the teaching of creativity can be utilised as an integrated element within the language classroom, without distraction or detraction from the primary goal of L2 improvement.

This thesis examines the use of oracy education to promote the teaching of creativity in a secondary language education context. An exploratory intervention programme, Creativity Through Oracy (CTO), was proposed with the objective of promoting L2 learners’ performance of creativity and L2 speaking. Using a mixed methods approach, this study hoped to examine the effectiveness of the intervention programme through quantitative inquiry, and to explore participants’ perception of the intervention and the emergence of creativity through qualitative inquiry. The intervention was implemented in the secondary classroom context of Hong Kong where English is learned as a second language. Three intact classes of Secondary 2 students participated in this study, and were assigned as the CTO Group, the Free Talk (FT) Group, and the Whole Class Teaching Approach (WCTA) Group. The intervention lasted for fourteen weeks, which consisted of a series of sessions that provided scaffolding in creativity and oracy skills and knowledge, regular group discussion practice, and guided opportunities for metacognitive reflection. Data were gathered from the pre- and post- test, semi-structured interviews, drawings, documents, and classroom observations.

Findings of this study revealed that, the Creativity Through Oracy intervention did not have a significant effect on the L2 learners’ performance of divergent-thinking based creativity. However, significant effects were found in the performance of two of the sub-measures of L2 fluency, where the FT group performed better than the WCTA and CTO groups. Correlations were also found in the performance data between divergent-thinking based creativity and L2 fluency, confirming past research on the relationship between thought and language. The qualitative data suggested that L2 learners were very positive about the intervention experience, and they perceived positive changes in their performance of creativity and L2 speaking after the intervention. Four contextual factors were also found to influence the effectiveness of the intervention, in terms of L2 learners’ dialogic engagement and participation. A careful examination of the classroom discourse also found that some features of L2 talk were more favourable than the others in leading to the emergence of creativity, as they improved the quality of the L2 talk more systematically. Overall, this thesis concludes that the Creativity Through Oracy intervention has demonstrated potential to promote the performance of creativity and L2 speaking in the SLE context, and suggests that more research is needed to understand more fully about the role of oracy education in L2 contexts.





Liu, Yongcan


Creativity, Oracy, Second Language Education


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge