Language and language diversity play a significant role in critical thinking and its processes. Language is the main device we use as humans to communicate through symbols what we think, experience or feel. Language is also one of the primary methods of transmitting culture. Language diversity is important to critical thinking because of the close relationship between language and culture. Language is used diversely by different cultures, with what is deemed appropriate in one culture often being thought of as inappropriate in another culture. Culture, then, often shapes language both in its use and in what we view to be "normal" language. Close reading consists of exploring language in ways that increase critical thinking skills. For example, we often analyze the logic of what we read, as not all pieces of writing are similarly logical or valid. When reading language in a piece of writing, we must often determine the author's main idea or thesis. Through practice of close reading of language, we develop critical thinking skills like analysis, logic, deduction and others. We also come to appreciate language diversity and the ways our own cultural language biases can undermine critical language. For example, we might have a tendency to evaluate an African American or Spanish writer's language from our own cultural experiences and norms. This might lead to bias and illogical conclusions as to meaning or expression. Linda Elder and Richard Paul (2004, p. 37) argue that the close reading of language helps enhance the critical thinking process in the following ways:
· Understanding your purpose in reading and an author's purpose in writing
· Seeing ideas in a text as being interconnected
· Looking for and understandin...
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...oals. Biased arguments would also fail to convince those audience members with honed critical thinking skills. For example, if I had a bad experience with a teacher and told my audience, "All teachers suck," I would be making an emotional appeal that is illogical and biased. If I said instead, "Some teacher's do a really poor job," I would not be being biased, making a sweeping generalization, or basing my communication on my emotions and mood. In this manner, the more one has honed their critical thinking skills, the more one is able to put together convincing arguments or adopt positions that persuade others as to their validity.
Language technology. (2004, Dec). Technology & Children, 9(2), 11-12.
Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2004, Winter). Critical thinking and the art of close reading, part IV. Journal of Developmental Education, 28(2), 36-37.
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