Journal of Basic Education

Vol. 12 No. 2 , Pages 191 - 210 , 2003

Cultivating Critical Thinking Skills Through Reading with Young ESL Learners

Man-chu Lau


This paper describes a reading program conducted to 2 classes of Secondary 1 (Grade 7) ESL students in an English-medium secondary school in Hong Kong, with the aim of cultivating students' thinking skills. The rationale for the program stemmed from the recognition that students suffer from a great lack of ideas as well as the opportunity to engage in more abstract or high-order thinking. The paper first outlines the principles and beliefs in communicative language learning and the "community of inquiry"- where real learning is believed to start from interacting with students, i.e., reading with them age- and interest-relevant story books, and raising thought-provoking questions that relate to their life-world. The paper then describes a program which was conducted with two different groups of students in an attempt to develop their different thinking skills. An evaluation of the program is given and attention is drawn to long-term implications of developing reading lessons that help foster students' critical thinking.

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