Education Sciences (2017-02-01)

Debating the Capabilities of “Chinese Students” for Thinking Critically in Anglophone Universities

  • Siyi Lu,
  • Michael Singh

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 1
p. 22


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There are media and research reports of international students from the People’s Republic of China as being deficient in the capabilities for thinking critically. This paper argues for a shift in the frame for researching their critical thinking, moving the focus from the ethno-national label of “Chinese students” to “multilingual students” and their full linguistic repertoire. This opens up possibilities for exploring definitions of modes of critical thinking in Zhongwen (the official language of China) and English, and the importance of critical thinking in higher education in Australia, China and elsewhere. Attention then turns to constructions of “Chinese students” as uncritical, with explanations for their learning deficit including poor English language proficiency, lack of relevant knowledge, inappropriate assessment and deficiencies in China’s educational system. This paper concludes by suggesting research into post-monolingual education may find a theoretic-pedagogical framework that sees multilingual students use their full linguistic repertoire to develop modes of critical thinking while dealing with the tensions posed by English-only monolingual education.