The New Role of English Language Teachers: Developing Students’ Critical Thinking in Hong Kong Secondary School Classrooms

| June 24, 2010
The New Role of English Language Teachers: Developing Students Critical Thinking in Hong Kong Secondary School Classrooms

Keywords: critical thinking; English language teaching; education innovation; classroom observation

Jane Mok
University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Bio Data
Jane Mok is a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include language assessment, teacher professional development and critical thinking. Having worked as a frontline teacher and teacher educator during the past ten years, she has developed with her research teams different types of teacher support material including a DVD-rom on assessment for learning and a resource pack on reflection and teacher professional development.

In 1999, the critical thinking syllabus (CDC, 1999) was issued by the Curriculum Development Council to all junior secondary school English language teachers in Hong Kong. Different from the earlier curriculum guidelines, the recommendations highlight the importance of thinking in English language teaching and learning, and a new role of English language teachers, i.e. to develop students critical thinking through the subject. Through classroom observation, this study aimed to investigate whether the syllabus is translated into the classroom practices of five teacher participants. In these case studies covering more than 1600 minutes of classroom teaching, two brief critical encounters were identified. Only in these two encounters were students given the time and space to think critically and exchange ideas genuinely in a supportive learning atmosphere. The study shows that developing students critical thinking has never been an object of learning for the five teachers, who felt that the institutional constraints and external pressures they faced made the implementation of the syllabus impossible. That is, they were not playing the new role required. The study, though exploratory, has important implications in developing students critical thinking and implementation of education innovation.

See pages: 262-287

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 12 Issue 2