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. &

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Résumé – William Plain


2011            Emeritus Professor,  Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

1998-2011    Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, professor, Educational Linguistics

1993–98       University of Tsukuba, Japan, professor, Educational Linguistics

1990-93        Niigata University, Japan, professor, ELT

1986-90        University of Torino, Italy, lecturer

1989            Teacher Trainers course at Pilgrims English Language Courses, University of Canterbury (Great Britain)

1987-89       MA TEFL from the University of Reading (thesis: 'Awareness Training in the MA TEFL classroom')

1988            University of Reading, Great Britain, teaching on EAP summer course

1985-88        Bank of San Paolo, Torino, Italy, teacher

1980-85        Independent Teaching Service, Geneva, director

1980            Development studies course at the Institut Universitaire des études de développement, University of Geneva (Switzerland)

1978-80       Certificat en français moderne, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)

1978-80        Cours Commerciaux de Genève, Switzerland, teacher

1976-78        University of Minho, Braga, Portugal, lecturer

1977            TEFL course by Pilgrims English Language Courses, University of Canterbury (Great Britain)

1975-78        British Institute, Guimarães, Portugal, teacher-in-charge

1974-75        British Institute, Bologna, Italy, teacher

1972-75        Diplomas (4) in areas of natural medicine from British colleges

1971-73        Export consultancy concerned with SE Asian - Australian trade

1969-70        Australian Department of Trade and Industry, export research

1965-69        BA (major in English Language and Political Science), University of Sydney (Australia)



Pair Group Teaching for communication and autonomy, JACET conference 1993

research into classroom methodology based on permanent groups

Teaching the Awareness Dimension, JACET conference 1994

methods for developing awareness in the student and in the teacher.

Co-operative Counselling for Teacher Development, JALT conference 1995

reflective method for improving teaching skills by university teachers

Pair Group Teaching, JALT Teacher Education, 1996

an awareness method for teaching large classes in Japan

Awareness, Paradigms and Pair Group Teaching, JALT Teacher Education, 1996

a holistic method for consciousness raising and choice of content

Group Formation in the Communicative Language Class, Japanese Teachers’ Symposium, Foreign Language Centre, University of Tsukuba, 1997

creating group cohesion for enhanced communication

Process Thinking through Paradigms and Pair Group Teaching, Foreign Language Center (University of Tsukuba)/JALT, 1997

creativity in teacher developed content classes

The Hidden Curriculum, University of Adelaide, Centre for European Studies and General Linguistics and the Centre for Asian Studies, staff seminar, 1999

Plain Pair Group Teaching methodology and ‘hidden curriculum’ in classroom management

ELT and Global Responsibility, National University of Singapore, Centre for English Language Communication, staff seminar, 2003

the role of teaching methodology and learning theory in causing/resolving global problems of power and individual responsibility

Creative Discussion in Learning and Surviving, Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference, 2005

A system of creative discussion for education, organisations and private use, responding to a need for ‘mental proprioception’ in human evolution

The Role of Education for a Global Species, University of Adelaide, Centre for Asian Studies, staff seminar, 2006

Student centred teaching in universities to facilitate creativity and deep learning

Content-based Language Learning, University of Adelaide, Department of Linguistics, post-graduate seminar, 2006

The use of appropriate content to develop communicative competence and critical awareness

‘Intelligence and communication, Plain Pair Group Teaching’, teaching demonstration, Ogaki Technical High School, 2006

Small group discussion for students, teaching demonstration for teachers

 ‘Teacher as educational theorist’, National Taichung University, Taiwan, seminar, 2006

How we teach is as important as what we teach: promoting ‘natural learning’

‘Evaluation and responsibility in the student-centred classroom’, National Taiwan Normal University, seminar, 2006

How to give a student a grade which does not interfere with learning

‘Language Education, Creativity or Conditioning’, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, seminar, 2006

The main challenge to university teaching is the development of creativity

‘Peace and Proprioception, peace as a global language’, Peace Conference at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, 2007

Insight as the key to an evolution in social and organisational dynamics


Kakenhi research

1994-97, Japanese Ministry of Education Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, individual project, ‘Adapting Traditional Language Teaching Methods for a New Communicative Curriculum in Japanese Universities’.

1995-97, Japanese Ministry of Education B2 Kakenhi fund, senior member of University of Tsukuba 3 year group project, ‘Developing Integrated English Language Education’.

1999-2002, Japanese Ministry of Education Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, individual project, ‘A New Theory of Language Learning to Encourage the Adoption of a Communicative Curriculum in Japanese Universities’.



1. Awareness Training in Learning and Teaching

the role of awareness and paradigms in learning theory and an analysis of awareness training methods in the post-graduate university classroom - research based on interviews with university lecturers and teacher trainers

1991, Edizioni il Capitello, Torino, xiii plus 189 pp.

2. Teaching Abroad: an adventure in culture and curriculum

a look at aid projects in EFL with particular emphasis on autonomy and its implications for curriculum development

1991, Edizioni il Capitello, Torino, xi plus 52 pp.

3. Adapting Traditional Language Teaching Methods for a New Communicative Curriculum in Japanese Universities

the practice and theory of a new language teaching method developed by the author, called “Plain Pair Group Teaching”

1998, Japanese Ministry of Education Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Project number: 11680285, individual project report, 89 pp.

4. A New Theory of Language Learning to Encourage the Adoption of a Communicative Curriculum in Japanese Universities — Silence in the Classroom

a theory of learning based on the ‘participation paradigm’ and a new understanding of first language learning as a basis for the “Plain Pair Group Teaching” method

2003, (research project 1999-2003) Japanese Ministry of Education Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, Project number: 07680252, individual project report, 155 pp.



1. ‘Pair Group Learning’

using supportive groups as an approach to large class teaching in Japanese universities

1993 Niigata University Kyoyobu Journal, Vol. 24, pp. 57-70.

2. ‘The Management of Silence: awareness in taught language learning’

taught learning’ as opposed to ‘natural learning’ and use of awareness as a means to teacher development

1995, Studies in Languages and Cultures (University of Tsukuba), Vol. 41 pp. 81-97.

3. ‘Learning through Silence: awareness in natural language learning’

language acquisition in L1 or later language learning offers insights into the learning process

1995, Studies in Languages and Cultures (University of Tsukuba), Vol. 40 pp. 177-194.

4. ‘Paradigms, Groups and Power: the practice of Pair Group Teaching’

looking at the role of power in the classroom as a means of understanding the importance of awareness and learning through freedom

1997, Studies in Languages and Cultures (University of Tsukuba), Vol. 45 pp. 75-89.

5, ‘Content in University Language Classes: future directions in language learning

teaching English through content based materials

1997, Foreign Language Center Journal (University of Tsukuba), 6pp.

6. ‘A Teaching Method for “Content” Classes: Pair Group Teaching’, IN University-based Perspectives on English Curriculum Development

a practical outline of ‘Pair Group Teaching’

1998, Japanese Ministry of Education Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research, group project report (Foreign Language Center, University of Tsukuba), pp. 19-27.

7, ‘Visiting a ‘Plain Pair Group Teaching’ classroom

use of ‘insight group’ and ‘plain pair group’ in the student-centred classroom

2005, web site, c. 5pp.

8. ‘The Awakeness Paradigm’

the role of creative social dialogue in correcting dysfunctional perceptions

2006, c 12 pp.

9. ‘Active Education: a report on Campus Creative Discussion at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies’

2007, web site, c. 12 pp.

student perceptions of weekly small group academic discussion meetings outside of class

10. ‘Insight to Earthsight’

2008, web site, c. 6 pp.

the evolutionary dynamics of change: from the individual to the planetary

11. ‘Bringing Wisdom into Planetary Leadership: creativity in collective deliberation’

2009, web site, c. 5 pp.

 a decision-making process which facilitates individual creativity

12.‘Creativity in the Organisation: a new paradigm for corporate creativity’

2009, web site, c. 5 pp.

multiple individual creativity as the basis of organisational intelligence

13. ‘NUFS Creative Campus’

2010, web site, c. 18 pp.

a detailed guide to university-wide transformation of teaching, campus learning, teacher development and university management

14. ‘Teaching and Testing, the Terrible Twins’

2011, web site, c. 5 pp.

quantity as a measure of improvement, avoiding conditioning in education


Other publications

1. ‘A Glimpse inside the Teacher Development Classroom’

analysis of a training session and discussion of principles guiding choice of methods

1988, University of Torino, 8pp.

2. ‘“Put him in the Sac”: setting up a self-access centre in a major Italian bank’

implications of autonomous learning for teaching methodology and theory of management

1988, Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino, 10pp.

3. ‘An ABC of PGT’

detailed guidelines for Plain Pair Group Teaching in the university classroom

2005, web site, c. 6 pp.

 4. ‘Creative Discussion Groups’

principles and rules for creative discussion: academic, professional, corporate

2006, web site, c. 6 pp.

5. ‘Campus Creative Discussion, Plain Pair Groups’

invitation to creative discussion on the university campus

2007, web site, c. 2 pp.

6. ‘Toyota Solar Today: collective corporate responsibility and awareness raising

a possible example of corporate creativity: an open letter

2008, web site, c. 2 pp.

 7. ‘Creative Potential: accessing the creative potential of each member of an organisation’

corporate awareness raising and the ‘insight network’

2009, web site, c. 2 pp.

8. 'The Key to Creativity is Insight'

Practical exercises: awareness of insight leads to creativity

2010, web site, c. 2 pp.

9. ‘Power enabling Profit at the expense of the People ('PePeP')'

the role of administration in assuring that decisions are made in the interests of power

2012, web site, c. 2 pp.

10. 'Discuss Avaaz & Discuss GetUp: support your community, your country, your planet'

individual potential for producing change through Creative Discussion

2013, campaign on Avaaz and GetUp web sites, c. 2 pp.

11. 'The Perfect People Planet'

change can be easy, even pleasant and ultimately profitable

2014, web site, 1 p.

12. 'Futurecide’

Arctic methane, precursor to Permian extinction and possibly to an ‘Anthropocene event’ – the ‘wise wise man’?

2014, Australian Senate enquiry submission on climate policy No. 69, 10 pp; supplementary submission 2 pp.

Also on web site

13. The Planet and Me’

Living in a perfect ‘people-world’

2014, web site, 1 p.

14. '5º + 5º = 10º GW and 20-30 years to human Permian’

promoting community awareness for abrupt irreversible climate change

2014 Renewable Energy Target Review submission on global warming and Arctic methane, 4 pp.

15. 'Arctic methane: a global warming emergency’

Methane timeline and responsible leadership

2014, web site, c. 2 pp.

16. 'Not just our grandchildren’

Responsibility and creativity facing futurecide in our lifetime

2015, submission to Climate change strategy for South Australia

available on web site, 1 p.

17. 'Nuclear Charades’

nuclear energy with false facts, nuclear winter with global warming

2015, Open letter to SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

web site, 4 pp

18. 'Wasted Australia: say No to nuclear waste in Australia’

Protecting Australia and future generations by refusing an international high level nuclear waste dump

2016, campaign on GetUp (CommunityRun) web site

also on web site, 4 pp.

19. 'Questions for SA Nuclear Debate’

basis for reflection: global warming makes anything nuclear a risk for possible 'futurecide'

2016, Open letter to all citizens concerned with their future

web site, 2 pp

20. 'Nuclear Means Futurecide'

A nuclear South Australia: facts, responsibility, managing change, alternatives

2016, submission to SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission and Parliament of South Australia Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission

available on web site, 30 pp.

21. 'Alternative Paradigms in Planetary Management’

what creative role can the individual play in an organisation responsible for counter-intuitive decision-making

2018, Letter to ABC (board, management and staff)

web site, 3 pp

 22. 'Anthropocene Warming: responsible risk management’

fundamental responsibility for risk management by all those involved in decision-making

2018, Information accompanyiing representation to various organisations

web site, 2 pp

  23. 'Decimillennial Australia’

The Australian civilisation over 100,000 years is tbe best example and source of advice for a sustainable future

2019, Open letter to Australian First Peoples

web site, 2 pp

  24. 'Climate Action’

Creativity can assist us as we find ourselves responsible for the 6th major extinction

2019, Information for the Ausutralian Climate Strike

web site, 2 pp

  25. 'I am Earthsight’

A way in which each of us can join with the Earth in responding to a planetary crisis

2019, A message for 7 billion people, each one a responsible part of the Earth

web site, 1 p

 26. 'Nuclear Means Futurecide (updated)'

Nuclear impacts, the interaction of 'nuclear' with global warming, correcting erroneous paradigms and policies.

2020, submission to Senate Committee No. 32: National Radioactive Waste Management (Kimba, Eyre Peninsula)

available on web site, 36 pp

27. 'Act on Climate'

What can "I" (me! this reader!) do to make a difference?

2020, submission to Parliamentary Committee: Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation; Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2020 (page size 500 - 5 - No. 2018)

available on web site, 2 pp




Recognition and remuneration


© William Plain  1990-2024 (print); 2005 - 2024 (website)