Expanding Critical Thinking Components in Foreign Language Instruction: A Model for Leveraging Nontraditional Contemporary Sources


The comfort of constant change from one technology to another often masks the lack of critical thinking components in well-established curricular content. Our efforts are centered on “how” to use new techs at the expense of the “what” of our respective disciplines. However, learners of all ages must be taught ‘how to think, not what to think’, as the scholastic mission of gaining critical thinking and problem-solving skills is perpetual, and importantly can also improve the engagement even of material that lacks an obvious critical thinking component. This paper attempts to explore how to draw on materials on the WWW and social media to supply the ‘what’ for learning ‘how’ to think. It argues that one route to increase students’ ability to think critically, deeply, and constructively, learners need to be exposed to a variety of perspectives and experiences, which social media/www offer to a greater extent than prescribed textbooks and traditional teaching material. I will present a model, based on experiences obtained from teaching at a Californian Community College, for exploring web resources that can provide substantial, diverse, and relatable content feed for developing critical thinking ability while simultaneously improving foreign language competency. It features examples of talks and speeches on social media that provide students with true voice, choice, and a wider audience for students to engage. It demonstrates technologies employed to overcome difficulties of converting the non-traditional raw materials into lessons that are learnable and digestible at the learner’s language level. Finally, it discusses the pedagogical devices.


Weihsun Mao
Adjunct Professor, Language and Communication, Ohlone College, California, United States


Presentation Type

Innovation Showcase


New Digital Institutions and Spaces


Curriculum Content Sources; Critical Thinking; Foreign Language Instruction Technology Pedagogy

Digital Media

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