Whether in a given subject classroom or in an ESL classroom, critical thinking is a powerful tool for students to start getting knowledge, developing comprehension of a subject, applying learnt concepts and analyzing situations in life. However, when it comes to the ESL classroom, it is sometimes difficult to develop critical thinking as both language acquisition and school education can get on the way. In my case, the latter has become a real problem that I have come to solve with a few steps.
Firstly, when giving a new piece of knowledge to your students encourage them to identify and then recall information by stating information questions related to the subject. Students can also go through a process of defining, listing, locating, stating or underlining key points that help them identify and recall easily.
Secondly, promote a broad comprehension by making them select and then organize important ideas and key facts derived from the previous step. Students can, this way, start converting, describing, explaining, retelling or, in given cases, translating those ideas and facts in order to better understand and built solid comprehension.
Thirdly, knowledge and comprehension without practical application leads nowhere so the realistic use of rules, principles and facts learnt is a must. Students can clearly apply, demonstrate the use, give examples, solve situations and make statements of the newly acquired knowledge.
Finally, a concluding analysis will help them create solid cluster of information that help them in future situations where they encounter similar knowledge in the future by separating the global data from its different components. At this point, students can analyze, compare and contrast, infer and distinguish different features and classify them to deduct and use contextual knowledge.
Despite being a bit difficult to sort out external influences in the ESL classroom, following simple steps for knowledge, comprehension, application and analysis can help students develop critical thinking successfully.