On the morning of April 25, the College English Department of the School of Foreign Languages held the 2nd “Jiangxin Academic Salon” (2017) in Z210. The salon was themed at “How to develop the students’ critical discussion competency in foreign language instruction”. Professor Frans van Eemeren, celebrated pragma-dialectical theorist in the international academic circle and honorary director of Jiangsu University Center for the Argumentation Studies, was invited to give a keynote speech and on-site guidance. The salon was jointly presided over by Associate Professor Wu Peng, dean of CET Department 1 and Ms. Yan Linqiong of the English Department.
In his presentation, Professor Eemeren first anatomized the connotation and composition of critical discussion competency, and proceeded to explore the necessity, urgency and concrete methods of integrating critical discussion competency into foreign language instruction. He noted that the critical discussion competency is the key element of critical thinking competency, it is one of the basic competencies for high-notch talents and one of the important factors that delineate the interpersonal and intercultural communication of all kinds. Viewed from its composition, the critical discussion competency is essentially an argumentative competency, mainly comprising of discriminatory argumentation, analytical argumentation, evaluative argumentation and expressive argumentation. Professor Eemeren also pointed out that the pragma-dialectics provides a sound theoretical basis and operation manual for the cultivation of students’ critical competency.
After delivering the thematic speech, Professor Eemeren answered the questions raised by teachers at the meeting on the problems they have encountered in their teaching and research practice of critical English reading, writing and speaking. His meticulous answers and useful suggestions were drawn from his teaching and research experiences of more than 40 years.
The integration of critical thinking competency into the daily College English instruction is one of the important features and spotlights of this round of College English curriculum reform in Jiangsu University. Its fundamental objective is to cultivate the basic foreign language skills and critical thinking of international engineering talents, and in the meanwhile providing a new opportunity for the academic growth of College English teachers. This salon helps front-line College English teachers to further comprehend the connotation and importance of critical thinking cultivation, to strengthen the kernel contents of internal training previously done, and make full preparation for the integration of critical thinking cultivation into daily English teaching practice. (School of Foreign Languages)