A criticism of critical thinking

A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to travel to Japan to speak at JALT and visit some schools and universities with the wonderful representatives from OUP. During a book fair at a university near Tokyo, a tall Australian ex-pat teacher asked me if we had any books on critical thinking. I dutifully pointed him to a series I’d written for which has “critical thinking tips” and explained how we tried to embed them in the content and assignments. “No,” he frowned, “I want a book that just teaches critical thinking, not a language textbook.”

Honestly, I have no idea what that kind of book would look like, and I certainly couldn’t write it. I’m not even sure what critical thinking means, and I’ve been teaching academic ESL for over 15 years. So I’ve stopped talking about critical thinking, and I don’t claim to teach it. I’ll leave thinking to the psychologists and philosophers.

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(Reads, reading, has read): 5 smart tips for teaching grammar through extensive reading

Here’s a blog post I wrote for the OUP Global site on teaching grammar through (extensive) reading. It’s loosely tied to Q:Skills for Success, but I’ve been batting around these ideas for some time. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Source: (Reads, reading, has read): 5 smart tips for teaching grammar through extensive reading

Conferences 2017

Here’s my speaking schedule for the coming year. Come join me!

Kansas State University Intensive English Program (professional development workshop), December 15

EAP Conference at St. Andrew’s University, Scotland, February 24-25, 2017

  • Workshop, “Genres That Work in the Writing Classroom”
  • Plenary speaker. “Go with the Flow: Creating Cohesion in Academic Discourse”

AAAL Conference, Portland, March 17-19, 2017

  • Connecting Process and Product: Mixed-Method Research into Collaborative Writing

TESOL Convention, Seattle, March 21-24, 2017 (handouts & slides here)

  • “Myths of the Five-Paragraph Essay.” Second Language Writing Interest Section Academic Session, with Dana Ferris, Christine Ortmeier-Hooper, Luciana de Oliveira, Deborah Crusan, and Ann Johns.
  • ” Argue, Contend, Exort: Teaching the Language of Argumentative Writing” with Silvia Pessoa, Ryan Miller, Tom Mitchel, and Sandra Zappa Hollman
  • “Many Hands Make Writing Work: Planning Engaging Collaborative Writing Tasks” with Monica Farling

New book! Supporting Graduate Student Writers

cover.pngA new collection which I helped edit has just been published by the University of Michigan Press. Supporting Graduate Writers: Research, Curriculum, Program Design (Simpson, Caplan, Cox, & Phillis, 2016) is the first edited volume to discuss options in designing writing support for graduate students writing in English both as their first or additional language. You can find it on the Press’s website, amazon.com, and all fine booksellers. The blurb is below the break. Thanks and congratulations to editors Steve Simpson, Michelle Cox, and Talinn Phillips as well as the amazing cast of contributors. It was a fascinating project to work on.

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Meet me in … Baltimore?

tesol16-attendee-graphic1

TESOL’s annual convention returns to Baltimore in April for its 50th birthday party (TESOL’s, not Baltimore’s). I’ll be greeting and speaking:

Wednesday April 6, 5:00-5:45pm, room 328: Beyond the EAP Border into Graduate Studies: Cross-Institutional Curricular Models (Jin Kim and Nigel Caplan)

Thursday April 7, 10-11am: Meet the authors coffee hour: Chris Feak and I will be on hand to drink coffee and talk about our textbooks and graduate student education in general. At the University of Michigan Press booth in the exhibit hall.

Friday April 8, 1:00-2:45pm: Getting on the Same Page — transitions from IEP to First-Year Composition (panel).

Friday April 8, 3:00-4:45pm, room 343: Discovering and Teaching the Grammar of Academic Writing (Sandra Zappa-Hollman, Nigel Caplan, Ryan Miller, Thomas Mitchell)

Handouts from my sessions are available here.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Still not teaching the 5-paragraph essay!

“Our concern is not to banish the evils of incoherence, nor to promote writing as the free expression of the author’s voice. We have seen over and over that the explicit and thorough teaching of genres is the best way to level the playing field and give marginalized learners of all ages access to the high-stakes ways of knowing, reading, and writing that will open doors in their academic, professional, and social lives.”

– Read the rest of my post with Luciana de Oliveira on the TESOL blog and for an example of genre-based pedagogy in action (or at least in a series of ESL textbooks), take a look at Inside Writing!