Rightfully, a crucial 21st century skill, 'critical thinking' has become the buzzword in foreign language education worldwide. Whilst many approaches can be adopted to encourage language learners to become 'critical thinkers', this presentation will describe a discussion-based approach that helps students develop critical thinking skills. While emphasizing the importance of being able to articulate their own opinions, classroom practice included numerous activities that required students to (1) remember, understand, and apply information, and (2) analyze, evaluate and create stories. This study will report on three advanced English integrated skills courses in which this approach was used throughout the academic year 2016-2017, over the course of 23 weeks. Based on the results of a questionnaire administered to approximately 80 students, perceptions of their improvement in terms of (1) critical thinking skills and (2) communication skills will be discussed. Although results show that most students believe they have improved both critical thinking and communication skills, differences in students' answers could be attributed to the mixed ability classes, as well as the semi-implicit teaching method. In the end, suggestions to improve the course in the future will be offered and implications for such an approach will be discussed.
Roxana Sandu, University of Tsukuba, Japan