Forming of critical thinking skills by means of creative activities at foreign language classes
Кобзева Н. А., Куимова М. В. Forming of critical thinking skills by means of creative activities at foreign language classes // Молодой ученый. 2011. №2. Т.2. С. 92-94.
In compliance with modern researches, the primary difference between a bored class and an absorbed class lies in how creative the teaching techniques are. It is critically important to keep the teaching material interesting, actual and to make it applicable for practical use. There is no doubt that in order to truly learn the materials (as opposed to merely memorizing them), students must be involved in interesting, interactive, applicable and creative activities. “Creativity can be defined as production of an idea or product that is innovative and meaningful. Creativity is about ways we can reach beyond ourselves in our conventional lives, realities, and consciousness, to access deeper ways of knowing, and even profound spiritual realizations. There is a vital role for creativity studies in making the most of our self-awareness, and furthering our human possibility” . A lot of scholars state that creativity, creative exercises and various tasks at foreign language university classes are worth doing according to the following reasons. Creative tasks:
give a real content, purpose, outcome or even a product (e.g. drawing and explanation, etc.)
help students to practice language;
provoke students to think creatively;
help students practice diverse communication strategies (miming, pauses, paraphrasing, etc);
help students master creative ways of expression;
help to improve self-esteem as students can look at their own solutions to problems and their own products and see what they are able to achieve;
in the language classroom can lead to genuine communication and co-operation. Students use the language to do the creative task, so they use it as a tool, in its original function. This prepares them for using the foreign language outside the classroom;
enrich classroom work, and they make it more varied and more enjoyable by tapping into individual talents, ideas and thoughts – both the students’ and the teacher’s;
help to introduce creativity in real life. It is a part of our survival strategies and it is a force behind personal growth and the development of culture and society.
“We understand thought (thinking) as the ideal component of the real activity of social people transforming both external nature and themselves by their labour” .
The amount of information available today is massive through the modern technology. This information explosion is likely to continue in the future. Students need a guide to choose the information they really use and not just passively accept it. Critical thinking is essential for effective functioning in the modern world.
Students need to develop and effectively apply critical thinking skills to their academic studies, to the complex problems that they face, and to the critical choices they will be forced to make as a result of the information explosion and other rapid technological changes.
Thinking combines the related structures and processes of perception, memory, forming ideas, language and use of symbols - the basic cognitive skills which underlie the ability to reason, to learn and to solve problems.
Although there are different definitions of the terms thinking and critical thinking, each model describes similar elements of either thinking or critical thinking or creative or both.
“Thought and thinking are mental forms and processes, respectively ("thought" is both). Thinking allows beings to model the world and to deal with it according to their objectives, plans, ends and desires’’.
Students can be taught strategies for thinking skills that allow them to process information more effectively and efficiently. They can also learn to demonstrate habits of mind or thinking behaviors in their daily activities.
Throughout the years, many critical thinking skills models and programs have been generated from educators, seeking to describe the essential elements of thinking and to develop a systematic approach to teaching thinking skills as part of the school or university curricula.
The need to teach thinking skills is not a recent one. In every course, and as well as in the course of English Foreign Language (EFL), students should be taught to think logically, analyze and compare, question to master English as an university subject.
This means hard work for the teachers. It's much easier to teach students to memorize vocabulary and grammar and then assess them with multiple-choice tests. In a course that emphasizes thinking, objectives must include application and analysis, divergent thinking, and opportunities to organize ideas and support value judgments.
Faculties and university’s programs strive for graduate individuals to be experienced and adept at critical thinking.
The EFL Curriculum of European Languages Department of Tomsk Polytechnic University stresses that when students use critical thinking skills they focus on 'knowing how' to learn as well as 'knowing what' to learn.
Moreover, English teaching may use effective technologies in forming and developing critical thinking as well as professional and language competences. One of these technologies is Board Game Scrabble.
This article outcomes the value of Board Game Scrabble as a tool for developing students' critical thinking skills.
Scrabble is more than just relaxation. It usefully supplements to a broad program that is alive with authentic, interesting and stimulating learning opportunities.
Doubtless, grammar is a key feature of language, but learning English grammar is often challenging and difficult. By integrating Scrabble, the learners can focus both on meaning and word forms and they won’t notice how much they’re learning because playing Scrabble is so much fun.
Beside grammar Board Game Scrabble boosts a half dozen skill areas, as well as critical thinking, social and personal skills.
Spatial relationship skills stretch as students plan words to fit available spaces on the board, and for the most points. The act of manipulating tiles creates a hands-on connection between concepts and objects, reinforcing students’ abilities to concentrate on spatial relationships.
Thinking skills expand in the exciting team atmosphere of word play, fostering unique opportunities for creative and critical thinking without fear of judgment or poor grades. Imagining, planning, evaluating options and decision-making are some of the skills essential to team success.
For future engineers, solution-driven competences are very important as well as winning quality, since employers greatly value employees who can identify problems and be relied upon to come up with viable solutions.
Board Game Scrabble develops board geometry, strategic decision making, probability and chance. But nearly every player loves the language part, too, the aesthetics of the letters and letter combinations, the quirky definitions, the sheer breadth and beauty of English.
“Scrabble is not only a game of word knowledge, but also a game of mathematics and probabilities” .
Social and personal skills develop naturally as students experience principles of team play, friendly competition. Self-esteem grows in the Scrabble game atmosphere, where the definition of successful participation can range from pulling tiles from the bag to challenging another player’s word. Even when a team loses, members have had the satisfaction of working together to shape their part of the game.
Word Board Game Scrabble plays a significant role in the development of logical thinking and abstract concepts from early childhood to adulthood.
Forming and developing thinking skills are complemented and embedded in the EFL Curriculum as a key component.
The urgent need to teach critical thinking skills at university continues. With Board Game Scrabble teachers may create an atmosphere where students are encouraged to learn deeply, call in question, engage in divergent thinking, look for relationships among ideas, and grapple with real life issues.
Thus, it is absolutely obvious that pedagogic ideas concerning teaching young generation thinking skills, must be among priorities in contemporary educational environment. A certain solution to the scarcity of effective and amusing materials is the implementation of creative classroom activities that move beyond reliance on textbooks. These activities can enliven lessons and motivate students to master the language they are studying.
Teaching English is challenging as well as exciting. All universities pay a lot of attention to improving the knowledge of English. Any EFL teacher faces the tough problem of teaching the language in a creative and innovative method. Though many students are able to understand the language, most of the students face the problem of communicating their ideas effectively. Creativity at lessons helps to solve this problem as it teaches them speak and learn new words, grammar constructions, be responsible for their decisions, provokes positive attitude to language learning, demonstrates abilities to practice communication. For example, students should be taught new vocabulary. If you just ask them to read newspapers, magazines, Internet articles, books daily or learn a list of new words, few will respond to the suggestion positively. But if you use creativity methods for leaning new words at lessons, the attitude and result will be quite different.
Broadly speaking, creativity at lessons helps to introduce new ideas (it is essential quality for future engineers), aims at a purpose and requires its achievement, helps students to show their individuality and has a value. On the whole, we need to give the activity a purpose where language is used as a tool. To put it another way, we should organize the learning process in a way that gives time, space and freedom to students so that they can use their originality and imagination. This means that creative tasks are open to many answers, solutions and products. Using these tasks a teacher should act like a facilitator or a helper and not like a judge ready to give his strict opinion. Evaluating students’ activity a teaching shouldn’t pay all his attention to language use, but take into account the final product.
In conclusion we can say that if we want to run a creative activity in the classroom and develop creative thinking skills, we need to keep in mind four essential features of creativity: imagination, purpose, originality and value. Board game Scrabble helps to realize all features in the educational process effectively.
Susan F. Lafferty Overview of education in creativity and problem-solving in four-year colleges and universities. Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2004, 43 p.
Ilyenkov /Introduction to Dialectical Logic /
Diane F. Halpern Claremont McKenna College, Jonathan Wai Vanderbilt University/The World of Competitive Scrabble: Novice and Expert Differences in Visuospatial and Verbal Abilities/Jornal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 2007, Vol. 13, No. 2, 79-94/