Critical Thinking Skills through Literary and Non-Literary Texts in English Classes
The urge behind the current study was to argue for the development of critical thinking in language learners as an important element in EFL classes. A host of ways such as explicit teaching of critical thinking skills and using special programs have been hypothesized to improve learners' critical thinking ability. As a contribution to the current attempts to implant critical thinking in teaching and learning processes, the present study proposed employing literary texts in reading comprehension classes. To attain this goal, firstly, 34 learners were targeted as the participants of the study. Next, the pre-test of the study including a critical thinking test and a reading comprehension test was administered. Based on the results of the pretest, the participants were assigned into two homogeneous groups- experimental group and control group. Subsequently, both groups went through a 15-session reading comprehension course. The materials for the experimental group were literary texts extracted from different literary books and short stories. On the other hand, the materials for the control group were non-literary texts in the reading comprehension sections of books such as Interchange, Topnotch and Spectrum series. The same teaching method emphasizing critical thinking skills was used for teaching both groups. At the end of the course, a post-test including a critical thinking test and a reading comprehension test was administered to assess learners' critical thinking and reading comprehension. The findings of the study revealed that literary texts, as they require imaginative and creative thinking and are rich in reasoning and inference, can serve teachers tremendously to improve learners’ critical thinking ability. The results of the study have significant implications for teachers, researchers and material developers.
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