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Language and Language Diversity

Language and language diversity play a significant role in critical thinking and its processes. Language is the main device we use as humans to communicate through symbols what we think, experience or feel. Language is also one of the primary methods of transmitting culture. Language diversity is important to critical thinking because of the close relationship between language and culture. Language is used diversely by different cultures, with what is deemed appropriate in one culture often being though of as inappropriate in another culture. Culture, then, often shapes language both in its use and in what we view to be ônormalö language. Close reading consists of exploring language in ways that increase critical thinking skills. For example, we often analyze the logic of what we read, as not all pieces of writing are similarly logical or valid. When reading language in a piece of writing, we must often determine the authorÆs main idea or thesis. Through practice of close reading of language, we develop critical thinking skills like analysis, logic, deduction and others. We also come to appreciate language diversity and the ways our own cultural language biases can undermine critical language. For example, we might have a tendency to evaluate an African American or Spanish writerÆs language from our own cultural experiences and norms. This might lead to bias and illogical conclusions as to meaning or expression. Linda Elder and Richard Paul (2004, p. 37) argue that the close reading of language helps enhance the critical thinking process in the following ways:

Understanding your purpose in reading and an authorÆs purpose in writing

Seeing ideas in a text as being interconnected

Looking for and understanding systems of meaning while reading

Getting beyond impressionist reading

Formulating questions and seeking answers while reading

Language can empower or limit our expres


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