The importance of critical thinking in English. In this section of our course, we will look at critical thinking- what it is, why it’s important and how it can help you improve your English. Let’s start with a definition – what is critical thinking?
In short, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, to understand logical connections between things and to decide what is important / factual, and what is not important or incorrect.
So how does critical thinking improve my English? Well, there are lots of different benefits in improving and developing critical thinking skills:
- it will help you better identify nuances in English vocabulary
- it will help you better understand information you read and hear
- you will have a strong ability to make arguments and points in assignments and presentations
- you will be able to more clearly communicate your message
Before we continue, let’s look at a few important points about critical thinking:
- Critical thinking is not the same as cynical thinking.
Critical thinking means you need to check the facts, to rationally decide what is true and what is not. It should start from a neutral point – initially, you neither nor disbelieve, agree or disagree – until you have researched a topic. Cynical thinking is based on the initial idea that everything is false and everyone is lying unless you can prove differently.
- Critical thinking is a key requirement in tertiary (university level) study for most courses
For many courses you may study in an English-speaking environment, you will need to be able to apply critical thinking skills. Someone training to be a nurse or doctor, for example, needs to be able to read a medical journal and identify whether the information is biased or misleading.
- Critical thinking skills may not be the same in all cultures or even across all age groups
You need to be able to apply critical thinking skills at a high level in order to make sure you are not mislead or accept faulty or false information, but this skills is considered increasingly less important in a school curriculum, so younger people are perhaps less aware of these skills than their parents’ generation. Added to that, some cultures value rote learning (simply learning by repetition and acceptance) rather than by considered thought and debate. In order to fully understand all situations you may find yourself in, improving your English for critical thinking is essential.
- Critical thinking skills help you identify the 3 categories of misleading information
Critical thinking skills can help with 3 common areas of misleading information: misinformation (unintentional mistakes), disinformation (lies which are spread deliberately to deceive people) and malinformation (information which may perhaps be correct but is intended to harm – gossip, for example).