Critical Thinking in the Second Language Classroom: Are We Missing the Mark?

Although the concept of Critical Thinking is often heralded as a cornerstone of comprehensive education, its systematic introduction in second language classrooms across the globe seems to be strangely amiss. Many a language tutor eulogises the importance of critical thinking, but also brandishes it as an elusive concept that is often too advanced for their students’ level of second language proficiency. A few question its teachability, suggesting that it is indirectly nurtured within effective learning environments. There are even those who express ethical objections, considering the explicit instruction of critical thinking as an imposition of Western cultural ideologies (Atkinson 1997 ; Ramanathan & Atkinson 1999).
In this seminar, we shall enter the debate by arguing that critical thinking, indeed, can be meticulously cultivated within the landscape of second language learning. We will begin by demystifying the intricate nature of critical thinking, and proceed to illustrate a robust process model for guiding educators towards more effective critical thinking instruction. Real-life examples of classroom activities will be shared, which are applicable to beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced students.
This seminar will close with insights into how language teachers can use action research combined with mixed methods research as a means of investigating the potential impact of explicit critical thinking instruction within their classrooms.
Join us for a stimulating exploration of this untapped potential in second language education. We look forward to fostering a lively discussion on the topic.

Gregory Hadley is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Western Cultural Studies at Niigata University, Japan. A Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, some of his works include English for Academic Purposes in Neoliberal Universities: A Critical Grounded Theory (Springer, 2015), Grounded Theory in Applied Linguistics Research: A Practical Guide (Routledge, 2017), as well as contributions to the SAGE Handbook of Current Developments in Grounded Theory (2019) and The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods in Applied Linguistics (2019). His most recent book is entitled Critical Thinking (Routledge, 2022) with Andrew Boon.

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