You know how when you see beautiful, creative and well-designed things, you want them, too. Instinctively, you want to reach out and touch them, and to have these attractive objects, products, paintings, books, scenes, or clothes.
Beauty, in fact, moves us and makes us more sensitive, intuitive and perceptive human beings.
However, when it comes to educational materials, beauty and creativity are often ignored. Usually, books and other educational tools are dull and unimaginative; illustrations and graphic design are banal and colorless; book covers are awkward or too commercial; and finally, fonts are boring and patently annoying.
Why is that?
Here is my take on language-learning materials. I am a big fan of languages, and over the years I’ve studied six different languages using more than 20 different methods, approaches, and educational frameworks. Some were more effective, comprehensible, fun and showed results faster. Moreover, as a language teacher, I’ve regularly looked for the best materials for my students. Amazingly, I’ve never seen a beautiful and truly creative grammar book or flashcards, grammar tables, vocabulary lists or textbooks.
It seems like, in regards to education, beauty and creativity are seen as a significant distraction or just a needless amusement that diverts a student’s attention from learning and concentrating. Unfortunately, turns out that this assumption is mostly wrong, as my teaching experience and research into learning processes found that creative, attractive materials can actually improve long-term learning and memorization.
The greatest benefit of “beautiful education” is a significant impact on students’ long-term motivation; a more tactile and visual experience engages them for longer periods of time and encourages them to come back. Creativity boosts students’ curiosity, which has a direct impact on their motivation to succeed in this complex, exhausting yet ultimately enjoyable process.
Of course, beauty and creativity should come without compromising efficiency and deep understanding of the subject and of students’ needs.
The importance of creativity and the lessons I learned through my professional experience led me to create LoLo Russian Vocabulary Flashcards. While developing and producing LoLo, I kept in mind how I can create a product which can inspire and delight students.
However, this article is not about LoLo, it’s about awareness and appreciation of beauty, creativity and language training, and how they all come together. We, as students, teachers, publishers, entrepreneurs, designers or simply citizens of the world, should be aware of this (often neglected) issue.
My greatest hope is for you to one day see the beauty in some language, then to decide to learn it, and finally to find beautiful learning materials that will guide you in the most enjoyable and creative way.