The Effectiveness of Teaching Critical Thinking Skills through Literature in EFL Context: A Case Study in Spain

Svetlana Stefanova, Jelena Bobkina, Francisco Javier Sánchez-Verdejo Pérez


The present study investigates the effectiveness of teaching critical thinking skills through literary texts in the EFL classroom, based on the combination of reader-centered critical reading and critical literacy pedagogy. Our proposal seeks to address both language teaching and literacy education from a transnational perspective by dealing with critical thinking skills as a set of processes whose main aspects include the interpretation of the world, self-reflection, intercultural awareness, critical awareness, problem-solving, and language use. For the purpose of this study, a series of activities based on Caryl Phillips’s novel The Lost Child (2015) have been designed, following the four curricular components of Multiliteracies pedagogy (Kalantzis & Cope, 2000). Conducted in an EFL classroom in Spain, the study aims to validate the model of teaching critical skills built on working with current social issues, such as immigration, discrimination, and bullying. To evaluate the effectiveness of the model, teacher assessment and self-assessment questionnaires have been completed by the teacher and the students, respectively. A close analysis of the results reveals that both students and their teacher perceive the model as highly effective, in particular, in terms of self-reflection. Additionally, intrinsically motivating activities and frequent opportunities to discuss literary texts and relate them to current issues have proved to be highly beneficial for the students, providing them with a broader perspective that helps them interpret real-world problems properly. The assessment grid has proved effective, although for a wider application of the grid, the descriptors might have to be adapted to the students’ age.  



critical thinking skills, critical literacy approach, literature, EFL classroom

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