As competition for university places and jobs rises, universities and employers are putting increased emphasis on the importance of creativity and collaboration. This is why, at the British Council, we also emphasise these skills in our English classes.
Although we often associate creativity with people who work in the arts, our rapidly changing culture means all areas of life require creativity. Having a creative team means that problems are solved in unique and efficient ways.
It is also essential to collaborate effectively. It is now normal for us to be able to communicate immediately with people around the world, and because of this we may work and study with people with very diverse backgrounds.
Luckily, it’s not a matter of being born with or without these skills. It is possible to nurture and teach creativity and the ability to collaborate effectively, and that’s what the British Council does.
A person who is creative tends to have more enthusiasm and be more energised. Increased creativity can also lower stress and anxiety, vital when students are going through exams.
Working with others makes people happier, improves their reflection and opens their eyes to new skills. Being an effective collaborator means not only being able to work with others, but also being able to learn from, share with, and express oneself to them.
Most importantly, an openness to collaboration and sharing creative ideas means that children communicate with each other more in class. This gives them more opportunity to practise their English in a communicative way, which is how they will need to use it in the real world.
Tips for helping your child develop their creative and collaborative skills
To foster creativity, encourage curiosity about new things, especially learning about other cultures. Being exposed to how others view the world allows a child to make more mental links and spark new ideas.
Positively acknowledge creative ideas that children have developed themselves and reward their effort when they spend time on creative pursuits.
To encourage collaboration, get children to help a sibling with their English homework or set up a study group with students of a similar age. Children can learn to collaborate by negotiating with a friend about whose turn it is to play with a toy, or discussing household chores to complete.
Help children to see the benefit of group diversity, by welcoming diversity of genders, ethnicities, mother tongues and academic proficiency. This also develops their empathy, which leads to more successful collaboration.
And finally, lead by example. The best way that parents can support their child’s development is by being creative and collaborative too. Don’t just tell them to do it, show them! You could put aside a weekend afternoon for an art session with your child, or spend time working as a family on a project.
How the British Council can help
At the British Council, creativity and collaboration are encouraged within all our English courses. In our Primary courses, students work towards completing creative tasks throughout the year, using their own ideas. These creative tasks help students to remain motivated, and allow the teacher to encourage a range of language skills.
In our Secondary courses, students often work on a project linked to their classwork for a whole term. This could be designing a computer game, writing an adventure story, or editing a newspaper. These tasks challenge students to use English in a situation requiring creativity and input from others.