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Critical Thinking English Activities

This page contains links to activities using different forms of media to help you to examine English and allow you to improve your abilities in the following 5 language skills.

CE - Reading (Compréhension Écrit)
CO - Listening (Compréhension Oral)
PE - Writing (Production Écrite)
PO - Speaking (Production Orale)
IO - Spoken Interaction (Interaction Orale)

Whether you are preparing for a exam or looking to increase your overall English skills, these activities will provide you with a critical and immersive approach to building your English language skills.

Activities

To begin, choose an activity based on a theme below that you find interesting.  Each activity page contains source materials using videos and articles encompassing various "controversial" themes. Within each theme you will find activities targeting, language comprehension, writing and speaking, in the form of writing exercises, open discussion questions and debates.

I. Artificial Intelligence

The robots are coming—and it’s no joke! Google’s automated self-driving cars are safer and cheaper than current taxis and trucks with drivers. Multi-Agent Artificial Intelligence runs the New York Stock Exchange on micro-transactions that no human could perform. Inventor and industrialist Elon Musk has declared AI the next probable existential threat to humanity, garnering the public support of Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking.

Click here to go to the A.I. activity

II. The Belo Monte Dam Project

The construction of the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in Brazil has raised some controversy around the world. People outside of Brazil have are speaking out on behalf of the indigenous population of the river basin, while proponents of clean energy production are praising Brazil's solution to meet its future energy needs. 

Click here to go to the Belo Monte Dam activity.

III. GMOs

GMO's (or Genetically Modified Organisms) have presented quite a controversy forcing governments to create legislation concerning their use as well as inhibit funding for research in the development of drought and pest resistant crops for underdeveloped countries.  Words like "Frankenfoods" have been coined by green activists to convey what they believe is a threat to the human race.  While on the other hand, proponents of genetic modification tout that GMO's such as miniaturized crop varieties will be needed to feed an increasing world population faced with climate change.

Click here to go to the GMO activity

GMO's (or Genetically Modified Organisms) have presented quite a controversy forcing governments to create legislation concerning their use as well as inhibit funding for research in the development of drought and pest resistant crops for underdeveloped countries.  Words like "Frankenfoods" have been coined by green activists to convey what they believe is a threat to the human race.  While on the other hand, proponents of genetic modification tout that GMO's such as miniaturized crop varieties will be needed to feed an increasing world population faced with climate change.  - See more at: http://englishcaddy.org/gmo.htm#sthash.snQkoacp.dpuf

IV. Pseudoscience: Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a pseudoscience used in the treatment of health conditions. Invented by writer, translator and medical practitioner, Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 during a time when germ theory of disease and molecules had yet to be discovered and many patients died from the current healthcare treatments administered rather than the illness.

Should we continue to fund 200 year old medical practices?

Click here to go to the Homeopathy activity

V. National Parks and Their Natural Resources

In America, the National Park idea was born to preserve the wilderness and ensure that future generations could experience and enjoy it. Still, vast reservoirs of natural resources were thus placed out of reach in the process, potentially hindering human progress.

Should the preservation of nature take precedence over human development? Should we be uncompromising in the protection of nature.

Click here to go to the National Parks activity

VI. Organic Food Production and Consumption

In its 10000 year history the human race has made many advancements in success of the production of its food supply.  The domestication of animals, hybridization of crops, treatment of pests and weed infestations, and disease prevention are just a few examples of the improvements humans have made to ensure a stable and adequate food supply.  However, nowadays there seems to be a "back-to-nature" marketing trend foregoing modern farming practices and advancements in which food manufacturers label their products as "organic" purporting their base production methods are more natural, thus the food healthier and better for the environment. Is precluding conventional farming methods better for us, for the environment and for the world's nutritional needs?  It's for you to decide. 

Click here to go to the Organic Foods activity.

VII. Star Wars: Rey's Lineage

Among the many unanswered questions in the latest episode of Star Wars, the biggest question seems to concern Rey's family lines.  So, in keeping with the excitement of the film, this activity will allow you to experiment with your English and explore the 2 biggest fan theories about Ray's parentage.

Click here to go to the Rey's Parents activity

VIII. Gap Year

What are the benefits of taking a "gap" year, that is, taking a break between high school and university to travel or work? 

This activity is a little different than the ones above.  A great discussion topic that might help you with your university career.

Click below to download the self-contained pdf document.

Click here to download a PDF file with articles and videos concerning the performance of gap year students.

More activities are planned for the future, so be sure to check back regularly.

N.B.

Because this page is being recommended for language test preparation, the following caveat has been included.

If you are preparing for certification in proficiency of the English language such as the TOEFL, or the  IELTS, these activities will certainly help you in that preparation.  However, these activities should not be relied on as your only form of preparation. As there is no sole method for language acquisition, you should seek to diversify your exposure to English in order to strengthen and fortify your abilities in all of the aforementioned language skills.  Consult the individual tests for preparation recommendations.
(Click here for a list of internationally recognized English language proficiency tests.)

(Click here for information about the French standardized university exam, CLES)

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