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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
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