Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups

Creative Discussion – a key to insight and change

William Plain
Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT)
- for universities and schools
Plain Pair Group Discussion (Plain PGD)
- for decision making and staff development
- for informal or community creative discussion

A flash of insight is the spark of cosmic intelligence.
Small group sharing of insight can change the pattern of human intelligence.

only search

Home page


The above projects are based on educational principles developed through 2 Monkasho funded research projects
over 4 years at NUFS and 3 years at the University of Tsukuba. (research report in NUFS library)

Abstract of Research Project, Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (C)(2)
科学研究費補助金 研究成果報告書 概要

RESEARCH INSTITUTE: 研究機関名:Nagoya University of Foreign Studies 名古屋外国語大学
CATEGORY 研究種目名:Grant-in-aid for Scientific Research (C)(2) 基盤研究 (c) (2)
TERM OF PROJECT : 研究期間:1999-2003 平成11年度~平成14年度
PROJECT NUMBER : 課題番号:11680285
TITLE OF PROJECT : 研究課題名: A New Theory of Language Learning to Encourage the Adoption of a Communicative Curriculum in Japanese Universities  日本の大学におけるコミュニカティブなカリキュラムの適用を奨励する言語習得新理論

 Registered Number





William Plain
ウィリアム プレイン

Nagoya University of Foreign Studies



Overview of research project: Under a previous Gakushin grant, a practical method of communicative teaching for Japanese universities was developed called Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT). The present project builds on this research and provides a theoretical basis for an understanding of first and second language learning which will lead to a wider use of communicative teaching methods in Japanese universities. The major goals of this four-year project have been successfully attained. Future research will look at the application of Plain PGT method and theory to teacher development and the wider education for public awareness.
研究の概観:これまでの科研研究では、「Plain ペア・グループ・ティーチング (以下 Plain PGT)」と呼ばれる日本の大学における実践的なコミュニカティブ教授法を発展させてきた。現在の研究では、これまでの研究成果を基に、日本の大学において、コミュニカティブ教授法の広範囲の使用に結びつく、第1・第2言語学習の理解のための論理的根拠を提供してきた。4年間の研究の主な目標は、成功裡に終わった。今後は、Plain PGT法、教師教育理論と公共意識のための広範囲の教育への適応を概観する。

Overall results: Over the four years of this project I have: examined highly efficient learning to obtain a new view of man’s learning potential; developed a new understanding of first language acquisition which can be transferred directly to the second language classroom; made a multi-disciplinary search for ‘paradigm breaking’ theories which can be applied to the area of educational linguistics and language learning; considered the important problem of mental conditioning due to prevalent school learning methods; developed a theoretical basis to classroom management which can reactivate a latent quasi-universal talent for highly efficient language learning; applied these results to teacher development in Japanese universities; presented results of research in seminars and academic exchanges with colleagues at universities in Australia, Singapore and the UK, with ongoing collaboration with academics at the University of Adelaide.

Specific results: A previous Gakushin project saw the development of a new teaching method which could bring a strong communicative element to traditional lecture or text explanation classes. A simple classroom management process uses interaction within and between permanent groups to create a learning dynamic which is easy to apply and maximises learning.

During the present project, a new understanding of first language learning has been developed which sees the young child as a fully aware, highly efficient and independent learner. It has been discovered that such learning is frequently reproduced in the adult in ‘natural learning’ situations. Several elements which characterise ‘natural learning’ have been found and appropriate models developed (esp. ‘learning space’, ‘attentive silence’, ‘awakeness’, ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ learning, language ‘internalisation’). Such models have now been applied to a theory of learning which in turn has provided an understanding of how a ‘natural learning’ environment can be created in the classroom.

The ‘natural learning’ underlying efficient first and second language ‘internalisation’ draws on the creative insights of an emerging trans-disciplinary ‘world view’. This new paradigm reflects the dynamic interrelationship among all members of a community and leads to a consciousness of the inherently holistic nature of the physical, social and psychological worlds. This study of major paradigms in modern thought has highlighted the need to move from a reductionist ‘separation paradigm’ to a new, dynamic, holistic ‘participation paradigm’.

Reflection: A growing crisis in global human systems at all levels calls for a fundamental change in education. The tendency towards unreflective, conditioned, group-directed learning or decision-making should be replaced by communicative, reflective and insightful interaction, thus promoting individual, creative responses to the multiple needs of humanity. The present research attempts to respond to the specific needs of the classroom while remaining fully attentive to the much wider concerns of a ‘planetary species’.

Future research: Application of the Plain Pair Group method has recently been successfully experimented with in teacher development seminars. Future research will examine possible use in promoting an approach to professional development, decision-making and general awareness raising which combines fully interactional participation (‘all-together-everyone-thinking-and-talking’) with individual insightful awareness.
今後の研究課題:Plain PGT法は、近ごろ教師教育セミナーへ成功裏に適用した。今後その範囲を、個人の洞察的意識と共に相互作用的参与に結びつく、専門家教育及び意思決定と意識向上に拡大させる予定である。

Key Words キーワード
Plain Pair Group Teaching: Plain: ペア・グループ・ティーチング Communicative methodology:  コミュニカティブ教授法 Permanent groups: 固定されたグループ Natural learning: 自然学習Participation paradigm: 参与パラダイム ‘Space’ and ‘silence’: 「スペース」と「沈黙」 International exchange research: 国際的な学術交流 Australia: オーストラリア

Recognition and remuneration


© William Plain  1990-2018 (print) 2005 - 2018 (website)