Friday, 9 March 2018

Creative Writing in Other Languages Workshop 4 Some Oulipo ideas

We are beginning to get into something a little like what the Oulipo poets did.

Adding a word

You start off with a simple sentence and add something else simple. This can come from the students' normal repertoire or you may allow them to use a dictionary.  The example below is in French.


Un mot en plus  

Voici mon chien.
Voici mon grand chien.
Voici mon grand chien noir.
Voici mon grand chien noir et mignon.
Voici mon chien qui dort.
Mon chien, que j’adore 


Altering words

You change one word for each new line. Students practise both vocabulary and grammar. Again, they can use their own repertoire or find new vocabulary from the dictionary. This example is in German.   


Der Mann schläft im Garten.
Mein Mann schläft im Garten.
Mein Sohn schläft im Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet im Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet in einem Garten.
Mein Sohn arbeitet in einem Krieg.

Have a good look at the Oulipo ideas.  You might think of how to use the n + 7 method or the metro poems.  

Friday, 23 February 2018

Creative Writing on Other Languages Workshop 3 Acrostic poems

These can also be created by students who are very new to their foreign language.  These also encourage effective dictionary work.
First, you spell out a word. Then you look in the dictionary for words that begin with each word.  Note the third line includes a more complex sentence.  You don't need to have that there but it is an option for more advanced students.  These examples are my name. You can use real nouns or a topic.       
Gamine, généreuse, grande, garantie,
Intelligente, idéaliste, idiomatique, illogique,
Laisse les mots tomber comme les perles,
Lamentable, laide, légende, létale

Graciosa, guapa, gentil,
Intelligente, idéologica, ilusa,
Labré mi propia vida
Larga, laudable y legal.

Glänzend, gut, gastfreundlich, geduldig,
Intelligent, individuell, infantil, informativ
Laufe ich durch die ganze Hafenstadt,
Lakonisch, lässig, lästig, langweilig und launisch.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Creative Writing in Other Languages Workshop 2 Hello Goodbye Poems

These are so easy and can be used with any set of vocabulary. Examples are given here in French, German and Spanish. 

Start off the session with revising the main set of vocabulary – in the first example this would be school subjects. Revise also other relevant areas of vocabulary. Display all the gathered vocabulary on the whiteboard. For less able students you could actually provide the vocabulary on flash cards and let them pin them on the wall or on to a flip chart. They could even be presented electronically.       

Bonjour mardi, au revoir lundi 
Bonjour maths, au revoir anglais
Bonjour M X, au revoir Mme Jones
(This one revises days of the week and combines it with school subjects.)

Hallo Oma, Auf Wiedersehen Opa
Hallo Mutti  Auf Wiedersehen Vati
Hallo Schwester Auf Wiedersehen Bruder
(Here we are practising family relationships.)

Hola colegio, adios playa.
Hola frío, adios calor.
Hola alumnos, adios amigos.    
(This one combines seasons and leisure activities.)

This can be an effective way of linking two or more topics together. It is also possible to allow students to use the dictionary to find more words.       

Friday, 26 January 2018

Creative Writing on Other Languages Workshop 1 Haiku

This can be used at any level. Learners should always be encouraged to make as much use as possible of what they already know.
First step: think of words associated with something learnt recently. For beginners this might be colours, days of the week, classroom objects.
See examples below in French, German and Spanish:
vert, jaune, gris, blanc, bleu, rouge, noir, violet, rose, marron, orange  

Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag, das Wochenende 

el libro, la pizarra, la mesa, la computadora, la carpeta, el reloj,  el papel, el lápiz, las tijeras. - la silla, el diccionario,  el boli,

We often think of haiku as three line poems with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third with a change of tone between the second and third line. The best haiku often don't do exactly that but students often get great pleasure in following these "rules" precisely.
We might then find something like this:

Bleu, jaune, rouge et vert,  
violet, orange, marron, gris?
je préfère rouge et bleu 

Montag Dienstag schlecht
Samstag besser, ja?
Das Wochenende!

Mi libro, boli,
diccionario, papel
mesa, pizarra

You can use these for extending vocabulary. For example, take a colour and allow the students to look up words in a dictionary that go with that colour.  So we might get:

Bleu: la mer, le ciel,
Le cahier, le pantalon,
Le bleu sur le front.

You can also use this to combine subjects. Students often think in boxes so it's good to get them to make the most of what they know from all of the different subjects they've met. Here we combine days of the week and school subjects:

Montag: Geschichte
Diesntag Kunst, Mittwoch Mathe,
Lieblingstag: Mittwoch

Slightly more advanced students might use in the last line a sentence they can construct either because of what they have learnt in this unit or another one.

Libros, papeles,
Lápiz, boli, tijeras
Los tengo todos.    

These can also be tackled as group work and the outcomes lend themselves to colourful displays that can further enhance learning.    

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Fiction Workshop 18

This is taken form: and is very useful. As you can probably tell, it is really meant for the film world but it is actually useful for any story-teller.
Snyder's template runs thus:
Opening Image – A visual that represents the struggle & tone of the story. A snapshot of the main character’s problem, before the adventure begins.
Set-up – Expand on the “before” snapshot. Present the main character’s world as it is, and what is missing in their life.
Theme Stated (happens during the Set-up) – What your story is about; the message, the truth. Usually, it is spoken to the main character or in their presence, but they don’t understand the truth…not until they have some personal experience and context to support it.
Catalyst – The moment where life as it is changes. It is the telegram, the act of catching your loved-one cheating, allowing a monster on board the ship, meeting the true love of your life, etc. The “before” world is no more, change is underway.
Debate – But change is scary and for a moment, or a brief number of moments, the main character doubts the journey they must take. Can I face this challenge? Do I have what it takes? Should I go at all? It is the last chance for the hero to chicken out.
Break Into Two (Choosing Act Two) – The main character makes a choice and the journey begins. We leave the “Thesis” world and enter the upside-down, opposite world of Act Two.
B Story – This is when there’s a discussion about the Theme – the nugget of truth. Usually, this discussion is between the main character and the love interest. So, the B Story is usually called the “love story”.
The Promise of the Premise – This is the fun part of the story. This is when Craig Thompson’s relationship with Raina blooms, when Indiana Jones tries to beat the Nazis to the Lost Ark, when the detective finds the most clues and dodges the most bullets. This is when the main character explores the new world and the audience is entertained by the premise they have been promised.
Midpoint – Dependent upon the story, this moment is when everything is “great” or everything is “awful”. The main character either gets everything they think they want (“great”) or doesn’t get what they think they want at all (“awful”). But not everything we think we want is what we actually need in the end.
Bad Guys Close In – Doubt, jealousy, fear, foes both physical and emotional regroup to defeat the main character’s goal, and the main character’s “great”/“awful” situation disintegrates.
All is Lost – The opposite moment from the Midpoint: “awful”/“great”. The moment that the main character realizes they’ve lost everything they gained, or everything they now have has no meaning. The initial goal now looks even more impossible than before. And here, something or someone dies. It can be physical or emotional, but the death of something old makes way for something new to be born.
Dark Night of the Soul – The main character hits bottom, and wallows in hopelessness. The Why hast thou forsaken me, Lord? moment. Mourning the loss of what has “died” – the dream, the goal, the mentor character, the love of your life, etc. But, you must fall completely before you can pick yourself back up and try again.
Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three) – Thanks to a fresh idea, new inspiration, or last-minute Thematic advice from the B Story (usually the love interest), the main character chooses to try again.
Finale – This time around, the main character incorporates the Theme – the nugget of truth that now makes sense to them – into their fight for the goal because they have experience from the A Story and context from the B Story. Act Three is about Synthesis!
Final Image – opposite of Opening Image, proving, visually, that a change has occurred within the character.

Reading exercise:

Can you trace this story arc in a short story or novel you have read recently? Or perhaps in a film you have seen?

Writing exercise

Use the headings from the beat sheet and say what happens in your story / novel. You may be prompted to add in something new. This may well make your story arc stronger.

Would you like Fiction Workshops 11-18 as a handy PDF?  Along with some other freebies? Apply here.