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Preparing pre-service language teachers to teach critical thinking: An ethnographic case study in Hong Kong

Project Scheme:
General Research Fund
Project Year:
2018/2019
Project Leader:
Dr Yuan, Rui
(Department of English Language Education)
Preparing pre-service language teachers to teach critical thinking: An ethnographic case study in Hong Kong

Given the significance of CT for both language teachers and learners, the proposed project seeks to fill this gap by investigating how student teachers are prepared to teach CT in a pre-service teacher education program in Hong Kong.

In the information age, which is characterised by accelerating technological advancement and cultural exchanges, critical thinking (CT) has been widely promoted at primary, secondary and tertiary levels in various educational contexts. In Hong Kong, the importance of CT has been highlighted in primary and secondary English language curricula (CDC, 2002; 2004). Teachers are required to teach students to analyze and compare information, examine and reflect on various ideas and values, and solve complex real life problems. However, due to various contextual obstacles (e.g., a lack of institutional support and an exam-oriented system), language teachers often find it challenging to teach CT, especially in English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) contexts such as Hong Kong (Mok, 2009). To address this problem, a strong and explicit focus on CT is pivotal for pre-service language teacher education programs, with a view to developing student teachers’ CT and their professional competence to teach CT in the classroom.

 

Despite a growing body of research on how to promote CT in language classrooms, scant attention has been paid to student teachers’ learning to teach CT in pre-service teacher education programs. Given the significance of CT for both language teachers and learners, the proposed project seeks to fill this gap by investigating how student teachers are prepared to teach CT in a pre-service teacher education program in Hong Kong. Adopting an ethnographic case study design and informed by an ecological perspective on teacher education, the project will explore how student teachers learn to teach CT in relation to their program coverage, coherence and applicability. The project will also draw on multiple perspectives from language teacher educators and program leaders/coordinators to discover how CT is integrated with their situated teacher education curricula. Such an ethnographic design can not only contribute to our understanding of CT, its nature and roles in language teaching and teacher education, but can also generate insights into the dynamic, complex process of teacher learning across different sites, influenced by a range of institutional and socio-cultural factors. Furthermore, the study can inform language teacher educators and curriculum designers on how to prepare competent language teachers who can cater to students’ diverse needs for language learning and CT development in Hong Kong and similar EFL contexts.