Is it possible to foster critical thinking and reflective learning in a foreign language course? If yes, how is it done so that learners will develop an intellectual capacity to truly comprehend and understand the target country, its language, its people, its culture, and its past, present and future? In their paper on the goal of foreign language teaching at the tertiary level, Kinoshita and Zhang (2014) call for a reconceptualization of foreign language teaching. Not downgrading the role of linguistic and functional aspects of language learning, they advocate an approach that views foreign language teaching as ‘a form of liberal arts’ education that ‘contributes to the intellectual development beyond language facility’ (p.90). Although this aspect of foreign language teaching is neither denied nor discounted by any of the current teaching approaches, it does not seem to occupy the mainstream second language pedagogy, research interests and teacher training courses. In this chapter, I will offer a critical reflection of a pedagogical practice that gives explicit expression and equal weight to language ‘teaching’ (functional skill training) and ‘education’ (intellectual development). I will focus on the latter, discussing the rationale, the procedure and the learning outcome of a suite of activities that push students beyond the classroom walls and engage them through zero-distance contact and interaction with ideas and objects of their learning: the Chinese language and its speakers.
|Title of host publication||Enabling Reflective Thinking|
|Editors||Kathryn Coleman, Adele Flood|
|Place of Publication||America|
|Publisher||Common Ground Publishing|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|