What is it about?

Language instructors are grappling with the question of how to teach writing effectively in upper-level undergraduate world language classes. At that point, students still have to master aspects of grammar; they often work on general writing skills in their native language and hope to improve their skills to effectively bring forth arguments in written and oral communication. This article suggests that instruction in critical thinking can help students improve their language skills. It offers a syllabus of an upper-level undergraduate genre-writing class in German that uses explicit instruction in critical thinking following Paul and Elder's Critical Thinking Competency Standards (2006). These standards enrich language acquisition with the goal of improving the students' stylistic, textual, and grammatical skills. The article also presents a sample lesson outline for one of the genres. The shared experiences with this new approach can encourage educators to utilize different methods of critical thinking in writing instruction. By making students aware of such strategies, this approach supports them in their efforts to engage with new material in a way that allows them to become life-long learners.

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Why is it important?

The article highlights an approach to teaching German language and culture at the undergraduate level that is genre-based and integrates critical thinking, writing, and grammar instruction to help students develop the skills and knowledge needed to engage with German culture and society in a meaningful way. With this, it challenges language instruction methods that prioritize grammar and rote memorization over critical thinking and cultural engagement. By incorporating a variety of texts and genres, such as literature, film, and news articles, and encouraging students to analyze and interpret them in a broader social and historical context, the curriculum helps students to develop critical thinking skills that are essential for success in a globalized world. The article offers valuable insights into how language and culture instruction can be transformed to meet the needs of a changing student population and prepare them for a complex and interconnected world. It highlights the importance of integrating multiple skills and perspectives into language learning to foster deep engagement and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity.


I hope that the bifurcated approach to either grammar or culture will fade in our classrooms to integrate the world's issues in world language acquisition.

Juliane Schicker
Carleton College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Teaching Writing and Grammar through Critical Thinking in a Genre-Based Upper-Level Undergraduate German Class, Die Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German, March 2018, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/tger.12055.
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