Cynthia Jean Macknish is a lecturer at the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. She spent 9 years teaching in ESL programs before embarking on her current work in teacher education.
Understanding Critical Reading in an ESL Class in Singapore
Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
2011 TESOL International Association
Volume 2, Issue 4, pages 444–472, December 2011
How to Cite
MACKNISH, C. J. (2011), Understanding Critical Reading in an ESL Class in Singapore. TESOL Journal, 2: 444–472. doi: 10.5054/tj.2011.269747
- Issue published online: 3 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 3 JAN 2012
This article reports on the understandings and practice of critical reading in a postsecondary English as a second language (ESL) reading class for mainland Chinese students in Singapore. Despite the challenges of defining critical reading in practice and overcoming assumptions about Chinese students' lack of criticality, as well as the lack of attention paid to critical reading in the ESL course, helping the students read critically was considered a meaningful and necessary endeavor—both for students' future academic studies and for their reading proficiency in general. To investigate what critical reading would look like in this context, and whether it could be developed, a small-scale action research study was conducted. The study focused on the emergence of critical reading discourse in peer group discussions of texts. Findings show that, despite some limitations, the students engaged in critical reading discourse when they were provided with scaffolding and opportunities to practice.