Using Language Lessons To Build Critical Thinking

young black woman doing critical thinking

Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. Some things are a hindrance to critical thinking, like indoctrination and arrogance. Sometimes, you just never learned the skill. When people lack critical thinking skills they make assumptions and decisions based on their feelings, limited information or incorrectly assessed information. It can lead to making the same mistakes over and over, dangerous situations and costly errors. Language is one of the strongest tools you can use to teach you and your children critical thinking.

Close Reading

Close reading is a way of approaching reading that will encourage independent thinking through analysis. Read a text the first time looking for key ideas and details. Highlight important details. The second read-through should focus on rhetorical elements and style. How does the author try to affect your emotions?

Finally, you should think about questions the text raises. Are there leaps of logic that don’t make sense? How does the information apply to you? Can you relate it to your own life in some way? Does the text make sense? Learning to read closely takes time but it’s the first step toward independent thinking.

Analysis Through Writing

Understanding how other writers craft arguments can help you then craft your own. Being an effective writer, giving enough detail and using persuasion effectively all take critical thinking. There are many projects you can practice but a good starting point is writing about an experience you’ve had.

A popular prompt is writing about a special meal you shared with your family. It isn’t enough to describe the meal but to really dig into what made it special. Share your writing with other students, your family or a writing circle. Feedback helps you see where you may not have enough detail or organize things in an understandable manner. 

Language is the way ideas are shared. When you use language with an eye to critical thinking you’ll have a stronger understanding of how to analyze information and share your own ideas with others.

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