If we take this definition and we try to break down the idea of preparing students for the world we live in, it is fair to say that critical thinking is important in several ways. For one, it helps students observe an object (fact, person, data) from different points of view, like an artist making sketches of a model from different angles, observing every detail, discovering new things at each new angle. That makes them get out of their comfort zone and challenge their preconceptions about the object (or even misconceptions, depending on what they have previously learned about it), and create new, better-informed ones.

Critical thinking also has an impact on students’ interpersonal skills. By thinking critically and seeing things from different angles, students become more open-minded and empathetic, better communicators, more inclined to collaborate with their peers and receive and discuss their ideas. Thinking more about students as individuals, it is possible to say that critical thinking helps them develop their creative side by allowing their thinking process to run more freely, and explore more possibilities. It will make them better decision-makers, and with practice, also help them save time to make those decisions.

English Critical Thinking

How students can apply critical thinking

It might not always be possible to follow all steps in the language classroom, depending on the activity. That should not mean we should not teach critical thinking, even (and especially) to young students. Rather, we should encourage it. It can be as simple as asking “Why?” when someone makes a statement in class, or “How do you know?”, or “Where did you see that?”.
English Critical Thinking

Example activities

In case you feel your students do not have the language necessary to express themselves in English, you may want to have them use their thinking skills by exploring the space they are in. Total Physical Response (TPR) activities are also helpful, for they associate language and movement, and students start “producing language” by responding with their bodies.
English Critical Thinking

Considerations for teachers

These suggestions may be used with students at different ages, but we also must remember our role as teachers, and the things we should do to reach the end goal, which is to make them think. In that regard, there are some things we should consider:
English Critical Thinking

Defining Critical Thinking

Thinking comes naturally. You don’t have to make it happen—it just does. But you can make it happen in different ways. For example, you can think positively or negatively. You can think with “heart” and you can think with rational judgment. You can also think strategically and analytically, and mathematically and scientifically. These are a few of multiple ways in which the mind can process thought.
English Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking and Logic

Critical thinking is fundamentally a process of questioning information and data. You may question the information you read in a textbook, or you may question what a politician or a professor or a classmate says. You can also question a commonly-held belief or a new idea. With critical thinking, anything and everything is subject to question and examination.
English Critical Thinking

Logic’s Relationship to Critical Thinking

The word logic comes from the Ancient Greek logike, referring to the science or art of reasoning. Using logic, a person evaluates arguments and strives to distinguish between good and bad reasoning, or between truth and falsehood. Using logic, you can evaluate ideas or claims people make, make good decisions, and form sound beliefs about the world.[1]
English Critical Thinking

Questions of Logic in Critical Thinking

Let’s use a simple example of applying logic to a critical-thinking situation. In this hypothetical scenario, a man has a PhD in political science, and he works as a professor at a local college. His wife works at the college, too. They have three young children in the local school system, and their family is well known in the community.
English Critical Thinking

Problem-Solving With Critical Thinking

For most people, a typical day is filled with critical thinking and problem-solving challenges. In fact, critical thinking and problem-solving go hand-in-hand. They both refer to using knowledge, facts, and data to solve problems effectively. But with problem-solving, you are specifically identifying, selecting, and defending your solution.

Our Team

Read, think, repeat: Developing critical thinking skills in the English classroom

English Critical Thinking

Tanya R. Jackson

Your roommate was upset and said some unkind words to you, which put a crimp in your relationship. You try to see through the angry behaviors to determine how you might best support your roommate and help bring your relationship back to a comfortable spot.

English Critical Thinking

Charlene E. Ashley

Your campus club has been languishing on account of lack of participation and funds. The new club president, though, is a marketing major and has identified some strategies to interest students in joining and supporting the club. Implementation is forthcoming.

English Critical Thinking

Benjamin B. Richardson

Your final art class project challenges you to conceptualize form in new ways. On the last day of class when students present their projects, you describe the techniques you used to fulfill the assignment. You explain why and how you selected that approach.

English Critical Thinking

Bonnie V. Damiani

You have a job interview for a position that you feel you are only partially qualified for, although you really want the job and you are excited about the prospects. You analyze how you will explain your skills and experiences in a way to show that you are a good match for the prospective employer.

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This month’s Teacher’s Corner provides ideas for incorporating critical thinking activities in your language classroom.

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English Critical Thinking