Enabling Criticality: A Top-down Bottom-up Approach to Using TED Talks in EAP Listening Classes

by Adam Gyenes1 & Luis F. Santos2
1Department of Sociology, Ryutsu Keizai University, Japan.
2Institute of Curriculum and Instruction, Nanjing Normal University, China


Gyenes, A., Santos, L. (2021). Enabling Criticality: A Top-down Bottom-up Approach to Using TED Talks in EAP Listening Classes. In D. Koyama (Ed.), Development of Innovative Pedagogical Practices for a Modern Learning Experience (pp 293-324). Jagadhri, HR: CSMFL Publications. https://dx.doi.org/10.46679/978819484836311


The use of TED talks in EAP has gained popularity in recent years and they are promoted through coursebooks as a means of simultaneously developing listening and critical thinking skills. However, a traditional comprehension approach to teaching listening; one that focuses on testing lower-order thinking skills through discrete questions may be inadequate as a gateway into a critical consideration of broader issues for second language learners. With the practical purpose of developing a teaching approach to using TED talks informed by current theory, the chapter begins with a consideration of how critical thinking processes and top-down and bottom-up listening processes can be integrated into a singular model. Based on this framework, a genre analysis of the TED talk is made by taking a learner’s perspective in order to identify cognitive and affective barriers to listening that may restrict opportunities for critical thinking. In the discussion that follows, five activities are suggested for use with TED talks in listening classes that support top-down and bottom-up listening processes, and which set students up to analyse and evaluate the thesis and underlying structure of a TED talk, providing a solid foundation from which to approach discussion topics critically and reflectively.

Keywords: Critical thinking, English for academic purposes, second language listening, TED talks

This is a part of: Development of Innovative Pedagogical Practices for a Modern Learning Experience (Ed. Dennis Koyama, Ph.D.)

© CSMFL Publications & its authors.


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