“You connected with strangers through objects and through playing and started talking”
This was one summary from a participant in my recent workshop “English for creative thinking” where we used creative thinking techniques to practise speaking English.
In particular I used the LEGO Serious Play (LSP) method, where people build models to discuss abstract topics, to facilitate a discussion about great team working.
My thinking behind using this method in a language learning setting is based on the idea that LSP helps people to access different parts of their brains through the use of physical objects to think abstractly. As this supports the generation of new/fresh ideas it can also, I believe, support the generation of new/fresh language or help to better access passive language. This is reflected in some of the comments from participants who said it “stimulates thinking”, that “from simple things we can build big ideas” and that “…you really start in your mind to have a lot of connections, your mind starts to work really fast…”.
The novelty of the technique also helps to make the language/ideas more memorable and can engender curiosity and enjoyment which lowers anxiety and so supports improved fluency. This is shown in comments from participants who said they were not “ashamed to express my own ideas” and that they could “easily share [my] opinions”.
Added to this, the LSP process develops attentive listening skills in participants which is not only an important life skill but also essential for pronunciation development and noticing new vocabulary.
Plato is thought to have said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. So I believe that, perhaps, you can discover more language in an hour (or two) of play than a year of classes.
To see this in action, you can watch a short video below.