Critical Thinking How To Do It ESL Style.

5 Critical Thinking Techniques for your ESL teacher.

Lessons don't always go the way you planned. Sometimes the students were disengaged and or not focused. While these moments come and go and that they can make you feel disappointed. You should not hold onto that emotion; you should see it as a learning curve. Ask the question. Why didn't that work? What didn't I do?

Where was I doing wrong? I realized that part of the reason that my students seemed uninspired was likely because I was not asking the right questions. In my CELTA course, which I took back in the day, I soon realized that if I were to pass this course, I would have to ask the right questions to the students. Not yes-no questions. It would be best if you had questions that will get your students to think critically. To get them to try and express what they understood and secondly to get them to give me a real opinion. In other words, to get them to make cultural references and or problem-solving responses.


1. Evaluate your questions:

Questions need to be designed and asked so that you receive an in-depth response, not your usual one-word answer. A question that allows your students to use their experiences and which the students can give a personal response. An example of a closed question. "Do you like cheese?" It is a simple question; most students will respond with a yes or no answer. Yes, I do, no, I don't. That is fine if you specifically want the students to practice that structure. However, if you want them to produce an emotional response, something that they might want to use more forms and want to respond with more energy. Changing it to "Is cheese on pizza great, and if yes, tell me why?" The response you are likely to get is. Pizza is excellent, and I like cheese, it is fun". This question gets students thinking about their own opinion, which can heighten their engagement and make them feel that it is not just a repetitive response. As ESL teachers, we are programmed to follow the Cambridge, Trinity Exam question format. Repetition, repetition, repetition. We need to break out of that a little and get them to think. Don't get me wrong. We need to repeat expressions because, as we all know, the retention of younger students is not always there.

2. Change the focus of your verbs:

Design activities changing your verbs to such as recall, interpret, differentiate, critique, and produce, all these verbs produce a response in your students that draws attention to the skills we want to develop in our students. We want our students to be critiques, interpret, and infer the meaning behind the meaning. To be critical thinkers to ask those vital questions. Not just accept the situation or information.

3. Place culture at the base of your project, learning experience:

My responsibility as I see it is not only to teach a language but also to teach culture and expose the students to new ideas, new ways of thinking. Thus hopefully, they will have a deeper connection with the language and motivation. It is essential to give the students a reason to use this new information. If you can do that, then they will retain more and be more motivated to learn. It is vital for the children to compare the cultures not to see which is better or worse but to get them to think why do they do that, what has made them that way. This process will allow them to think critically about their own cultures. It will enable them to recognize that not every culture is the same, guiding them to be culturally competent citizens

4. Give students independence:

I work in a project-based school where we try and guide the students to develop these skills. We put them in situations where they need to problem solve research and design and follow where the task leads. They need time and guidance and practice to work in this way. Offer them to take control of the class and get them to ask the questions in class. Get them to lead the debate or research into a project.

5. Introduce authentic resources:

Published textbooks have the same activities and the same old style resources, there is a place and a time for these resources. However, if you do give authentic resources to your student to touch and feel and maybe smell well, this will always drive the emotions and feelings in the children to respond, act, react, all in a positive way. Many times I have brought in an original product from a country, city, object from a character, which has produced an emotional response. And this is what I want the engagement from my students. A positive reaction which you can use to create and incorporate the contents into your classes. It doesn't always work, but on the whole, it gets more of a reaction from a broader range of students. It is also essential to adapt the task, not the resource. The students do not have to understand all the text or all the literature. The students must realize that they can do the task set and feel motivated to use this authentic material. Using authentic resources can entice students to continue on their language learning journey, igniting their curiosity.

Furthermore, authentic resources present an increased level of challenge to the students. They need to learn new subskills like taking the most important information from a text; they need to know how to scan. They learn how to evaluate and compare, cultural products.

These 5 critical thinking actions can easily be incorporated into your classes. It will just allow your classes to become more interactive and thought-provoking.

I hope this will or has helped you. Please respond and add any comments.

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