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Apr 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 2

ISSN 1755-9715

Developing English Language Teaching Metaphorical Associative Cards (ELTMAC): Complete Report

Richard J. Stockton is an English language teacher. His earlier presentations and publications are on haptics in language teaching and cultural content analysis of Indonesian school textbooks. Hailing from the snowy Canadian prairies, he has taught EFL learners in various settings in Asia. His professional interests include young learners, historical development of language learning, and intersections of TESOL with philosophy.  Email:

Figure 1. Sample of ELTMAC cards.



Teaching English language, I became familiar with a number of narrative card games for ELT, but felt there was something wrong with many of them. These games tended to form Markov chains, just streams of random events without any plot or meaning. So I began to work on my own set of story cards, which I chose to base on fairytale. During these trials, I sometimes had an eerie sense that the game cards were bringing up thoughts and feelings from deep in the psyche.  This led to an action research question: Would it be possible to design a narrative story card game for ELT based on the archetypes and journey? And an empirical research question: Could an archetype and journey based ELT card game significantly benefit English language learning?


Jung and archetypes

Carl Jung is one of the most influential psychologists. Once a follower of Sigmund Freud, he split on bad terms with his mentor, and developed analytical psychology, coining the terms “archetypes” and “collective unconscious”. It should be cleared upfront, Jung has been criticized for his association with the Nazis. He was indeed a central figure in the Völkisch movement, which significantly informed Nazi ideology (Lutzhöft, 1971), and pro-Nazi notifications ran in the psychotherapy journal he edited (Samuels, 1997). However, it is also the case that Jung later vigorously renounced Nazism.

Jung’s arrival at the idea of the archetypes is connected to long standing debates in metaphysics and epistemology. While Plato had placed the forms, eidola, in a numinous beyond, for Jung (1927) the archetypes are encoded in our genes and “brain structure” (p.158). Jung was aware Augustine used the term archetypes in his De deversis quaestionibus (396/2002), and that alchemist and astrologer Paracelsus had advanced a similar idea too (Mills, 2013, p.30). The most important influence however, was Immanuel Kant’s categories of understanding in Critique of pure reason (1781/1998), in which our ideas are “pre-configured” and “structured by modes of perception and thinking that are universal and collective” (Gill, 2003, p.68). In addition, from the Romantic period critique of Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s philosophical idealism by Novalis or Friedrich Hölderlin, that mind is not ultimately knowable to itself, Jung takes his tenant that the archetypes are fundamentally unknowable (Jung, 1947).

Of these archetypes, “like the instincts, the collective thought patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited” (Jung, 1964/1988, p.75). They are universal, “operative within all human beings regardless of history, gender, race, geography, or time” (Mills, 2013, p.21). Jung (1936) came to discover that the archetypes are particularly clear in “the delusions of paranoiacs, the fantasies observed in trance-states, and the dreams of early childhood” (p.103). Though the archetypes cannot be directly known, a common set are often discussed: Kovačev (2009) gives the self which is the center of personality, persona which is the mask or role, the shadow which is our disowned character, the anima and animus syzygy which are the feminine and masculine, the great mother, and the wise old man…. Others include, the hero(ine), the princess in distress, the animal friend, the mentor, the trickster, the underworld, the maze, the tower, fog, and the quest or journey.



Knox (2001) is among the first to connect hard scientific evidence to Jungian archetypes being “innate structures of the mind” which are “pre-experiential”, “hard-wired” and “a direct expression of genetic codes” by drawing a comparison with Mark Johnson’s (1987) pioneering work on facial recognition image schemata in infants, arguing those are kinds of archetypes that “antedate conscious experience” (p.628-629). Further corroborating Jung, researchers using fMRI with English, Mandarin, and Farsi speakers suggest the Default Mode Network (DMN), an area of the brain active in daydreaming, “seems to be involved in representing the global meaning of passages” (Dehghani et al. 2017, p.6103); “encoding is systematic across both individuals and languages” (p.6098).

Figure 2. “Interlanguage…maps”, Dehghani, et al., 2017, p.6128.



Bruner (1986/2009) distinguishes between purely objective facts and narrative. But, Sarbine (1986) insists narrative thought informs even scientific paradigms. So, narrative is the sequenced telling of “motivations, goals, actions, events, and outcomes”, and, narratives “structure our understanding of the world and of ourselves” (Lakoff, 2010, p.21).


Elements of fiction

“Children can begin to tell stories themselves in about the third or fourth year of life”, but it is from “between the ages of five and eleven years children proceed from plots” (Sutton-Smith, 1986, p.68-69). That there is some sort of structure and sequence to narrative has been understood since the time of the ancients. For Aristotle (4th Century/2000), in Poetics, a plot follows a rule of three, it has a beginning, middle, and end (1450b). Georges Polti (1895/1924) attempted to define all possible dramatic situations: he arrived at 36. W.H. Auden’s (1968) work on what he called hero quests convinced him that all genres contain the same six stages.  More recently, Booker (2004) has analyzed stories into seven basic plots.



In the early 20th Century folklorist Antti Aarne undertook the design of a catalogue that could index all tale types, from myths and creation stories, to fables and fairytales, and even bawdy stories and jokes. His system was organized around motif. Motifs are specific actions of agents in a story, they are the smallest narrative units; for example, a ring changing into a sword is coded as D454.8.2.1 (Thompson, 1958). The current final format, the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification system (ATU) indexes over 40,000 motifs (Uther, 2009, p.20). For Uther (2009), the index has now reached the end of its potential, “advocates of narrative classification envisioned an exact system like that of the natural sciences…. Such hope for scientific exactness must be seen as a product of…wishful thinking” (p.19).


Propp & Campbell

A very different approach however was being taken by Soviet era folklorist Vladimir Propp. His Morphology of the folktale (1928/1968) revolutionized the field. While the ATU indexes motifs from stories all over the world, Propp discovered functions. “All fairytales are of one type in regard to their structure” (Propp, 1928/1968, p.23); there is no possible variation in sequence of the 31 functions, only abbreviation. Thus, Propp is able to describe a fairytale by the sequence of functions underlying the motifs.

Figure 3. “The Swan-geese”, Propp, 1928/1968, p.99.

Aguirre (2011, p.5) explains,

A wedding may be a reward (W) only if it occurs at the end of a sequence;… it may amount to a test if it occurs at E; while if it takes place in the preliminary sequence it may signal the entrance of the Villain (e.g., as stepmother; function ε)

While Propp’s work was suppressed by the Communists, many continue to develop the essential insight.          Joseph Campbell’s influential work shows myth worldwide underlied by the same tri-part “monomyth” consisting of departure from the familiar world, trial and initiation, and finally return (Campbell, 1949/2004).


(Post-) Structuralism

“The development…of the postmodern critical approaches, particularly poststructuralism and cultural materialism, has brought about a marked devaluation of the theories of Eliade, Jung and Campbell” (Gill, 2003, p.12).

Claude Lévi-Strauss (1984) was highly impressed by the work of Propp. Propp on the other hand took considerable slight as Lévi-Strauss reduced his syntagmatic formalist functions into an atemporal table of structuralist paradigmatic binaries. Lévi-Strauss (1984) explained, “we could treat the “violation” as the reverse of the “prohibition” and the latter as a negative… “injunction.” The “departure” of the hero and his “return” would appear as the negative and positive expressions of the same disjunctive function” (p.183).

Figure 4. “Structural model”, Lévi-Strauss, 1984, p.183.


What Lévi-Strauss (1984) though actually shares with Propp, is that the words of a story create another level of “supermeaning” (p.188). Lévi-Strauss (1984) calls this the level of mytheme. But the nature of this higher level metalangauge differs between Lévi-Strauss and Propp.  Lévi-Strauss gives the example of a story where a Plum tree has the meaning of “fecundity”, but in Native American stories this meaning would be signified by the Crabapple tree (p.182), so the meaning of a story changes with cultural context. But for Propp, all stories have only one eternally fixed meaning. 

Barthes (1975) too sees narrative as “another “language”, functioning at a higher level than the language of linguistics” (p.240); and that level of mytheme is “international, transhistorical, transcultural” (p.237).

Figure 5. “Two semiological systems”, Barthes, 1957/1991, p.113.

Barthes uniquely however describes narrative as moving along, “limping” (p.270), in a running interpretation as each new element continuously changes the meaning of the total from which the elements contextually derive and develop meaning.



“The term “fairy tale” resists a universally accepted or universally satisfying definition” (Haase, 2008, p.322). It sits as part of a group of closely associated genres including world folklore, myth, epic, saga, and legend. Campbell (1949/2004) sees the difference between fairytale and myth as scale, or “microcosm…macrocosm” (p.35). For J.R.R. Tolkien (1947), fairytales are defined by their setting and stock characters. Max Lüthi (1962/1970) enumerates essential characteristics, including minimal character development, black and white contrasts, timeless objects, symbolism, repetition, often in threes, and climactic dramas resolving last-minute. Fascist and Traditionalist Mircea Eliade (1963) sees fairytales as the remnants of ancient mystery religions. This was roughly also Propp’s (1946/2000) view. What differentiates fairytale from folklore is that fairytale is specifically European folklore. da Silva and Tehrani (2016) identify tales like Jack and the beanstalk as exceedingly ancient, putting their origin in the Proto-Indo-European Bronze Age. Etymologically, the English word fairytale comes from the French contes de fees; coined by Ancien Régime countess Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy. It was the trend in Europe at her time for ladies of class to take part in “storytelling, riddles, and other parlor and salon games” (Zipes, 2011, p.223). The sources which these aristocratic ladies drew on for their fairytales, “the supernatural powers of fairies, sorcerers, and other “pagan” figures obviously run counter to a Christian world view” (Seifert & Stanton, 2010, p.8). These literary fairytales were a kind of social criticism; d’Aulnoy ended up spending three years in the Bastille before being exiled from France. From the early 19th Century, the likes of Charles Perrault and the brothers Grimm were collecting fairytales, fairytales began to be produced for children, and progressives like George MacDonald and Oscar Wilde took to the medium too (Zipes,1995). Meanwhile, another group also began to take an interest in fairytale; for the Nazis, European folktales were “considered to be holy or sacred Aryan relics” (Zipes, 2012, p.141).



Eric Bern (1972) is among the first to bring fairytale into psychology, carrying out life-script analysis with the stories. Steven Karpman (1968) also looks at connections, analyzing the dramatic structure of the Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella into three basic positions: victim, rescuer and persecutor; drama happens in the switch-up between positions.

Figure 6. “Drama Triangle”, Karpman, 1968, p.50.

Le Guernic (2004) applies Berne and Karpman’s work in education, renaming Karpman’s drama positions to archetypal roles that accentuate the positive: “the Helper or the Donator”, “the Guide or the Mandator”, and “the Beneficiary” (p.220).



Popova and Miloradova (2014) have written at some length on the psychological basis of metaphorical associative cards (MAC) like Tarot. They explain that, “the psychological mechanisms of the cards’ action is connected with such phenomena as “projection,” “identification,” “metaphor,” “association,” …“archetypes,”… and some others” (p.208). In psychology, the Rorschach inkblot test is probably the most well-known application of MAC. Another MAC deck, OH cards, was developed by artist Ely Raman during the 1970s. “OH cards grew out of his involvement with the New York avant-garde art scene, pop art, his study of psychology, …and the Tarot” (Moore, 1999). Raman also created the Saga (n.d.) deck of 55 cards, which is based on fairytale.

Figure 7. “Saga-55 story-telling cards”, Egetmeyer, n.d.

The Asian Storytelling Network (n.d.) has developed a series of OH card lessons and teacher training in services, their workshops offered include “Art and creative story games with OH cards” and “Creative story telling with OH cards”. Richard Martin (n.d.) writes on the use of OH cards in English language teaching specifically. Martin suggests that a great deal of learning arises from the skills activated by storytelling, especially active listening (Personal communication, 2018); learners are able to predict story elements and meanings due to intuitive understanding of narrative (Martin, n.d.). He reminds us, while there may be a tendency to associate storytelling in ELT with children, it is for all ages (Martin, n.d.).


Storytelling in ELT

Lucarevschi (2016) reviews the literature on the effectiveness of storytelling for English acquisition, finding that storytelling is overall more effective across receptive and productive skills, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation than traditional methods like textbook based lessons. This successfulness has been attributed to storytelling lessons being “fun, engaging, and highly memorable” (Lucarevschi, 2016, p.23), and “because they provide learners with comprehensible input” (p.33). The details are, Warjnryb (2003) claims storytelling benefits memory of vocabulary, grammatical structures and pronunciation. Maldarez (2010) and Abrashid (2012) find vocabulary learning aided by storytelling too, perhaps due to its engagingness.  Huang (2006) used fairytales specifically in her research, finding improved memory of vocabulary, and speculating the illustrations and contextualization are why. Elkkiliç and Akça (2008) report that most learners see storytelling based lessons as enjoyable and meaningful; fairytales in particular are generally well received by young people (vom Orde, 2013). Quite a few researchers conclude comprehensible input may be what is behind the efficacy of storytelling for learning English, i.e., Hendrickson (1992), Wajnryb, (2003), and Brewster, Ellis and Girard (2004). Hsu’s (2010) research led her to speculate that not just listening, but retelling as well, is part of what makes storytelling effective in ELT. Atta-Alla (2012) found the same. Broome (2003) presents the case of a high school English program built around fairytales, explaining, “no longer are students protesting that fairy tales do not have hidden themes.… The point arrives finally when one student complains,…“Now I can’t read a fairy tale without seeing all this stuff”” (p.24-25).       


Seven presumed benefits of ELTMAC

i. Memory — Memory has long been a concern in language instruction (Kelly, 1969, p.45), and it has long been established that English memory ability correlates with proficiency (Harris, 1970, p.206). Rosen, Smith, Huston & Gonzalez (1991) have demonstrated, with native speakers of English, significantly improved memory recall using 40 flashcards based on the Archetypal Symbol Inventory (ASI). The ASI was designed with Lehner (1956), Cirlot (1962/2001), and Jung’s (1964/1988) dictionaries of symbols, and the 14,000 images of the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS). 

Figure 8. “Archetypal Symbol Inventory”, Rosen, et al., 1991, p.227.


Bradshaw and Storm (2013) get similar results with a set of 30 cards, removing any which might have known allusion, and using a mixed multicultural Australian group; the gain being about 10% (Personal Communication, Lance Storm, 2018). Brown and Hannigan (2006) replicate the results with bilingual English-Spanish speakers, running the ASI test in both languages.  Sotirova-Kohli et al. (2013) corroborate the results with a Swiss German speaking group. And Sotirova‐Kohli, Rosen, Smith, Henderson, and Taki‐Reece (2011) found an “8%” memory advantage using traditional Tensho style Chinese characters (p.125), which evolved from ancient pictographs which the researchers argue therefore retain archetypal imagery.

Figure 9. Evolution of character for “float”, Sotirova‐Kohli et al., 2011, p.111.


Soleimani and Akbari (2013) speculate that it is because students are typically familiar with “lots of archetypes, plot structures, different types of characters and themes… which they inherited from their ancestors” that storytelling in ELT supports vocabulary learning (p.105).

ii. L2 identity — Some philosophers, Owen Flanagan (1992) for instance, go as far as to see the emergence of self-consciousness in narrative capacity. Narrative “plays the role of giving organization, meaning, and structure to a life” (Flanagan, 1992, p.189). For Jung (1917), this process of “coming to selfhood” happens through the archetypes (p.173); key to the journey of individuation are the self, persona, ego, shadow, anima/animus, the wise old man, and the great mother (Stein, 2005). Storytelling would help language learners create their L2 identity too.  “Codes, signs and myths exist everywhere in every culture, and until we can successfully read and understand them, we cannot truly understand ourselves. Unlike other narratives, fairy tales…force readers to delve into the mythic level of interpretation” (Goh, 1986, p.22). Pushkov (2011), who uses OH cards in his counseling practice, says the games facilitate changes in character for his clients. “Associations that arise…while looking at the pictures serve as a mechanism of identification”, so from the story and discussion, effects permeate into “the level of real life” (Popova & Miloradova, 2014, p.211).

iii. Trans-cultural — The archetypes of the collective unconscious are the same “in any part of the world” (Jung, 1964/1988, p.69). For Gatineau (2012), OH cards, derived as they are from universal archetypes, are “cross-cultural”; they are currently being used in at least 21 countries.

iv. Cultural competence — Using fairytale with language learners is “preparing them to read cultural codes and interpret mythical language from a context that is simple and easy to understand” (Gho, 1986, p.3). The fairytale develops in its listeners and readers what Barthes (1957/1991) calls a mythology, i.e., assumed background customs and norms. While all cultures have folklore, fairytale genre is specifically European. Fairytales promote English discourse via a Whorfian synergy with the culture and values embedded in European fairytale language. Each culture/civilization has a defining narrative at its nucleus; for the West, according to Oswald Spengler (1937), that is Faust. In ELT, Goh (1986) explains, “introducing…fairy tales in the classroom will help introduce learners to Western society’s style of thinking” (p.62).

v. Category and corpus linguistics — Rosch (1978/1998) collected research that problematized Aristotle’s (4th Century/2002) conception of categorization with its 10 categories, and proposed instead that categories do not have clear-cut criteria and boundaries. Rather, she has it that contextualizing “events” are the basic units from which objects derive meaning as props (Rosch, 1978/1998, p.19), and taking from Brown’s (1958) How shall a thing be called?, categories have a “basic level”, the most frequent English words, and also meanings on “subordinate” and “superordinate” word levels (p.7). Likewise in MAC decks, “there are no “correct” interpretations of the pictures”, narratives develop out of “our own perceptions and interpretations” suggested by the cards (OH Cards quick start, 2003, p.1). ELTMAC accommodates how language categorizes.

vi. Meaningfulness — “Disneyfication refers to a process in which…the original is simplified, …adaptations are often one-dimensional and require little critical thinking” (de Graaf, 2013, p.8). Among the first to critique Disney in this vein was children’s author Frances Clarke Sayers who wrote Walt Disney in 1965, telling him that his retellings were a “debasement of the traditional literature of childhood”, adding that his “treatment of folklore is without regard for its anthropological, spiritual, or psychological truths” (de Graaf, 2013, p.4-5). Teachers may feel awkward about discussion of the actual truths of life (Purpel, 2008), hence the reality that telling fairytales can relate is valuable (Bettelheim, 1976), if, as in TESOL, commercial interests, politico-religious forces, and political correctness have been censoring meaningful content because it might offend (Smith, 2003).

vii. Broad use — Wright (1995) has published no less than 94 tasks based on storytelling.  His narrative story card games can be used to teach vocabulary, time sequencing, elements of fiction, tense, adjectives to describe appearance or personality, opposites, transitions, reported speech, writing and reading fiction, newspaper articles, retelling, research skills, inferencing, and more.


Action Research

The storytelling game that first inspired me to start developing ELTMAC was a medieval fantasy set of 36 cards (source unknown). One of the great things about that game is its curious drawings, due to their ambiguity, one card might be seen as a storehouse, or a secret code, or maybe a town map. Its failure however, is too many, mostly male, bad guy characters, the result being there are insufficient literary devices to guide development of plot.

The ELTMAC deck drawings follow analytical psychologist Lance Storm’s suggestion that, as in the ASI set, the cards have “artistic simplicity,…and students should find them pleasing to look at” (Personal Communication, 2018). As well as ambiguous cards, I include two which are purely abstract, and I aimed for gender balance in characters. While an ELTMAC deck ought to be archetypal, it oughtn’t to be sexist. Women have been an important part of fairytale since at least French salon, but fantasy games tend to be male biased (Miller, 2013). Erich Neumann (1955/1972) carried out an iconic structural analysis of female archetypes; as well as coming to the conclusion that “the symbol-forming process of the unconscious is the source of…language”, (p.17), his investigation of the great mother archetype found her to have six facets, Mary, Sophia, Kali, the witches, Lilith and Isis.  These archetypes are worked into ELTMAC’s female characters, including a pregnant Venus of Brassempouy.

Another narrative card game with some flaws is snakes and ladders with “place”, “actions”, and “character” distributed along the route, and ending with “they lived happily ever after” (High flyers, Book J, 2016, p.71). The game limits mood to happy endings; but the bigger problem is nothing structures plot, and depending on the role of the dice, there is possibly even no characters for the story. To support plot, the ELTMAC deck has cards suggestive of sequence such as a key and a door, and implying elements of fiction like reversal, dialogue bubbles, or a diverging path. In ELTMAC, there are ample characters, like the king, an ogre, dragon, or townfolk; and in play, props, for instance the sword, as well as animal cards like the bird or horse, can become characters too, because in fairytale, the Aristotelian (4th Century/1984) distinction between agent and object, is not clear-cut, take Disney’s Beauty and the beast (1991), the candlestick Lumière or the clock Cogsworth are both characters and props. 

A narrative ELT game, but with a winning formula, is one in which learners throw dice to choose settings like “a forest” or “the sea”, then from the characters list which includes “a spy” or “a teacher”, and finally a plot from “looking for treasure”, “having a toothache”, or “cooking some soup”; the students write the narrative into stages, “At the beginning”, “after that”, and “finally” (Trailblazers, Book 7, 2016, p.60). To scaffold emergence of meaningful plot, I made a three-by-five tile game board to help structure the 52,170,410,224,819,317,150,720,000 possible permutations, i.e., sequences, of 15 cards from the deck of 59. 

Figure 10. ELTMAC game board. 


ELTMAC cards need to represent the mythic archetypes. My deck contains the wise old man, the great mother, twins, the ouroboros, fog, the trickster, the shadow, the mask of persona, of course a fairy, and so on. I used Ring of the Nibelungs (2004), Snow White and the huntsman (2012), and Game of thrones (2011-2017) to guide and check what cards are required to produce these mythopoeic narratives, like a mirror, a vial, gold, and a tower. In class, learners were able to reconstruct many other fairytales, and local folklore too.

And, the needs of language learning had to be represented. I used, to me, evident basic level names for the cards, for example “jewel”, and then used online thesauruses to compile synonyms, such as “crystal” or “gem”, and subordinate and superordinate category names like “diamond” and “rock” respectively. I then profiled the list against a corpus linguistics database to ensure all cards would be namable with the 2,000 most frequently occurring English words (Cobb, 2018), hence the game is scalable to beginners, or learners with larger vocabularies.

Figure 11. Compleat Lexical Tutor, Cobb, 2018.


In classroom play, students in fact used a far richer pallet of vocabulary than profiling might have suggested would have been available to them for their levels. “Knowing these topic-related words is a phenomenon” likely due to familiarity with the fairytale genre (Personal communication, Paul Nation, 2018). It is interesting that students often liked to lay out all the cards and group them according to type, the king and queen together, character and animal cards, all the objects in a column, settings, and so on.  

While personally, Propp or Campbell’s spiritual kind of approach was the greater inspiration, the (post-) structuralist perspective, i.e., binaries, figures large too. The ELTMAC deck contains the pairings day/night, male/female, fruit/flower, fire/water, domesticated/wild, dog/cat and cat/mouse, and the levels tree/forest, and commoner/noble, among others.

The rules of game play I adapted from OH Cards quick start guide (2003). Players start by taking three cards each from the facedown deck. The player with a card closest to letter “A”, for example “apple” or “cat”, goes first. The first player lays a card on the “Setting & Characters” row of the game board and begins to tell the fairytale, “Once upon a time…”, supplying back story, initial situation, and character development. At the end of the players’ turns they take a card from the deck, so always holding three cards. The next player then lays down a card, continuing to tell the story. The game proceeds until the tiles of the plot game board are filled, and the players have finished telling the story; winning is having created the three-part story. Raman advises players may pass, may reveal their hand, or not, that players shouldn’t interrupt the storyteller while speaking, reinterpret played cards, or argue about their meaning (OH cards NA, 2018). In class, students were generally easy going about the rules and flow of play.    


Empirical research

My research design follows that suggested by psychoanalyst Milena Sotirova‐Kohli (Personal communication, 2018),

A research Idea that can support your claims about the utility of cards with archetypal themes used in English acqusition [sic] could be the following. Create two groups of English learners…. Control for all factors that could influence English learning… Use the cards only in one of the groups and…compare the results. 

The research was carried out at one of the largest private English institutes in Indonesia. All subjects were 8 to 11 year-old young learners, with upper-intermediate English, CEFR A2 by the institute’s level placement test. I collected control group data from 16 classes, totaling 117 students, taught fairytale vocabulary and elements of fiction using the High Flyers, Book J (2016) textbook, and supporting PowerPoint. The test group consisted of five classes, totaling 28 learners, taught to the same aims, but using ELTMAC decks to play a story creation game with oral retelling. All classes were finally assessed with a fairytale writing task, starting with the prompt, “Once upon a time there was a young, brave princess…”, and graded against the institute’s writing rubric that includes “lexical command” and “communicative competence”.

Figure 12.  ELTMAC lesson plan.



The average writing task score of the control group came to 84.42%. The average score for the test group classes who played ELTMAC games instead was 89.57%, a difference of 5.15%. The p value for a two-tailed t test is 0.037. If the level of statistical significance is assumed to be 0.05, as common in social science, the null hypothesis would be rejected and the results are statistically significant. Learners who played narrative story card games based on Jungian archetypes used wider vocabulary to write more communicatively competent fairytales.


Conclusions, caveats, and suggestions

To the action research question, the answer is that it is possible to develop a narrative story card game for ELT based on Jungian archetypes and journey. The ELTMAC deck is the result. To the empirical research question, the result is that ELTMAC games significantly improved learner’s English narrative writing. Although this had not specifically been done before, its possibility was presaged by Jungians researching memory with the ASI, teachers who had already brought fairytale and analytical psychology into their classrooms, educators who have been promoting OH cards, and Martin (n.d.) who documented his use of MAC in ELT.

Jordan Peterson (2017) has said that as fairytales are “up to ten thousand years old”, and based on deep archetypes, they are not easily modified without losing something, therefore Disney’s Frozen (2013) is a deranged tale. On the other side, analytical psychologist John Betts disagrees with Peterson, saying, “I don’t believe you can get an “ill” fairytale” (Personal communication, 2018). As ELTMAC games rearrange fairytale elements, Peterson’s (2017) view ought to be reckoned with, lest the games sicken the very thought level they seem to depend on for their benefit to ELT. Notwithstanding that the evil Snow Queen has indeed been transformed into the protagonist by Disney, the life-force in narrative cannot easily be extinguished. So Elsa would be read as a mythic heroine who sacrifices herself so her sister Anna can return Arendelle to fertility through the authentic masculinity of the ice-cutter Kristoff.

About two-thirds of Raman’s (n.d.) Saga cards are roughly the same as my ELTMAC: the wise old man, a joker, a mirror, a dog, an apple, a king and queen, a sword, and so on. The Saga deck however is not appropriate for all young learners, or more conservative cultures, as some cards portray nudity, and there are also some disturbing cards, including a bloody beheading. But, the ELTMAC deck, which omits nudity and graphic violence, doesn’t therefore subvert the journey or censor meaningfulness. Stockbridge (2012) reports she removed triggering or inappropriate OH cards for games with women recently released from prison, without impairing deck usage.

Going into the future, Semetsky and Delpech‐Ramey (2012) implore educators to further “explore the role of the unconscious in learning” (p.69). Unfortunately, very few publications on analytical psychology are appearing in the field of TESOL, hopefully this research might inspire others to bring Jung and archetypes into ELT.



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