Thinking in English: A content-based approach

James Crocker & Margaret Bowden

Learners are motivated by being taught to think outside the box. Developing our intellectual capabilities is an inherently motivating activity. This paper examines the rising interest in critical thinking skills as a beneficial by-product of English language teaching. This paper proposes that rather than just being a by-product, critical thinking can become the focus of content-based courses which teach critical thinking directly, and at the same time, motivate language learning. Researchers have provided strong arguments in favor of content-based learning as an approach to second language acquisition. Other research has shown that intellectually challenging and stimulating activities such as critical thinking tasks are intrinsically motivating, and that intrinsic motivation increases long-term retention of language. This paper proposes that content-based study of critical thinking, which involves logic, patterns of valid arguments, meaning analysis, validity and soundness, and inductive reasoning, can become the main focus of content-based courses in which students learn about critical thinking in their second language.