How Critical Thinking Is Taught in High School English Textbooks

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Michio Mineshima, Niigata University of Health and Welfare

The Japanese Ministry of Education (MEXT) implemented the new Course of Study for high schools in 2013, in which they specified the development of critical thinking (CT) as one of the objectives of two English courses: English Expression I (EEI) and English Expression II (EEII). I investigated how MEXT-approved textbooks for these courses are compiled to achieve that goal. In the study, the questions, exercises, and tasks in these textbooks were divided into three categories: language form questions, open-ended questions (whose answers do not necessarily require supporting reasons), and CT questions (whose answers require reasons). The frequencies of open-ended and CT questions per lesson were calculated. It was found that the average number of CT questions per lesson was 0.85 in EEI textbooks and 1.3 in EEII textbooks, and that only 30% of the EEI textbooks and 54% of the EEII textbooks had at least one CT question per lesson.