Developing students' critical thinking skills as a necessary competence for academic communication

Description de l'atelier

According to BALEAP (the British Association for Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes), one of the core competences expected of us as language teachers at university level is “to understand the role of critical thinking in academic contexts and ... employ tasks, processes and interactions that require students to demonstrate critical thinking skills.” In our presentation we examine critical thinking and its place in our teaching by means of the following questions:

  • What is critical thinking?
  • Why is it a crucial element in the university context?
  • Is it a concept which is relevant to us as language teachers?
  • If so, is it relevant to all languages we teach and practicable at all levels?

We also look at ways we can encourage critical thinking in our classes and at the reactions of students to discussion of the concept.
In our opinion these questions raise real and important issues concerning our role as teachers in higher education with the added responsibility of preparing our students for the world of work. How do we contribute to the development of learning skills of our students, how do we help them to reflect on these learning skills and to adopt a critical approach to the materials we use?

The presentation is given in English and discussion/ questions can be in English or French.

Christine Haydon

Christine Haydon has taught English to non-native speakers all her working life, in London, Kenya, Nepal and, for the last ten years, at the Language Centre of the University of Lausanne. She has an M.A: (Cantab) in English Language and Literature and an MEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. During her time at the UNIL she has become more and more interested in EAP (English for Academic Purposes), constructing and giving courses such as “English for Social Scientists”, “Academic Writing for PhD Students”, “English for Biologists”, etc. She also animates the reflective group ‘Languages for Academic Purposes’.

Caroline Nazroo

Caroline Nazroo graduated from the University of Edinburgh, where she studied French and Linguistics, and then went on to qualify as an EFL teacher. Since then, she has been teaching English at all levels and has worked in France, England and the Sultanate of Oman. She now lives in Switzerland and teaches English at the Language Centre of the University of Lausanne. Her professional areas of interest include English for Academic Purposes and, more specifically, the development of discussion skills in the language learner. She is a member of the Language Centre’s 'Languages for Academic Purposes’ reflective group, which strives to provide students with the tools that will make them successful in their academic and professional lives.

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