Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Language Learning and Critical Thinking of Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Language Learning and Critical Thinking of Efl Learners

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Many years ago, it was believed that language learning can enhance intelligence of learners. The more it was exercised, the greater its abilities and the larger its assets. The way to increased mental power was to exercise the mind with complex and difficult tasks. Problem solving in mathematics, translation in foreign language classes, memorization, and so on were advocated learning activities (Chastain 1988).

According to Armstrong (1997) students scored considerably higher in math and language arts after one semester of foreign language study 90 minutes per week. As Hakuta (1986) said language learners show greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher order thinking skills. Numerous studies indicated that individuals who learn a second language are more creative and better at solving intricate problems than those who do not (Bamford and Mizokawa, 1991). Kiany (1988) explained personality as "one of the individual differences which is widely accepted as having an effect on learning in general and second language acquisition in particular". As mentioned, language learning can have positive impacts on personality traits. Critical thinking can be among those traits. One of the intellectual abilities which have been recognized as a determiner of learning is critical thinking. To succeed in language learning, critical thinking is one of the major competences for L2 learners (Connolly, 2000; Davidson, 1998; Davidson and Dunham, 1997).It's clear that critical thinking skills improve high order learning skills cause to higher level of language proficiency (Renner, 1996). The examination of distinction in human behavior is referred to as the study of individual dissimilarity. Kiany (1988) explained personality as "one of the individual differences which is widely accepted as having an effect on learning in general and second language acquisition in particular".

According to Ennis (2011) critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking; the ability to decide what to do or what to believe. Halpern (1999) defines critical thinking as the use of cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. He argues that critical thinking is purposeful, reasoned, and goal- directed. It is the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions.

2. Review of Litreture

As Brookfield (1991) says "Critical Thinking involves recognizing and researching assumptions that undergird thoughts and actions (p 17)". He suggested that critical thinking entail research skills, being able to scrutinize the source of our knowledge, and how we use it in making decision. Scriven and Paul (2004) describe critical thinking as, "that mode of thinking about any subject, content, or problem in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them". This description comprise an attitudinal aspect of preference, and self-efficacy, and the met cognitive skill of estimating one's own thinking processes. Lately, Paul (1988) looked at critical thinking as learning how to ask and answer questions of analysis, combination and appraisal and "the ability to reach sound conclusions based on observations and information" (p. 50).

As Zhang (2003) said "The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances the inquiry permit. …

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