Language learners need to master different aspects of a foreign language. They should know linguistic conventions and how to use them. They should understand their audience and choose an appropriate way of communication. They also should understand their aims, why they want to communicate in the first place? It actually works for any language, foreign and native. Native language communication may look easier, but only because people have more experience with their native language.
Critical thinking can help here for a number of reasons and on different levels. Language learning is a cognitive process and one of the aims of critical thinking is to improve cognitive processes. Critical thinking has instruments to monitor our own mental processes and improve them. Well, we need to monitor the processes to improve them anyway, but monitoring also provides almost instantaneous feedback, so the processes can be improved rapidly. I mentioned the communication process and I can also mention a studying process, both should be monitored and improved. You don’t need inefficient studying methods, as well as ineffective communications. Besides testing them in action you can also check their descriptions and look for evidence to choose the most appropriate for your situation.
You can also find methods to work with aims and goals in a critical thinking tool-set. Consequently you can look for possible solutions and choose the best course of action on how to communicate in a specific case.
I personally like the idea the critical thinking is self-correcting and self-improving thinking. David Moore1 says that the thinker has two equally important goals: improve the way he reasons and come to a correct solution. This attitude can be very productive in language learning, because it promotes not only finding a solution, for example, how to make efficient communications. It also constantly reminds that the process of finding a solution can be improved. And basically any process can be improved, not only mental processes like learning, but also organizational and other processes.
Critical thinking attitudes are also important, I mentioned only one of them here. But there are others, they can be helpful as helpful reminders of what we should do to be more effective in thinking.
You can also check for some interesting ideas of integrating critical thinking into language learning here2.
1. ^ : Critical Thinking and Intelligence Analysis. DT Moore, 2007.
2. ^ : Promoting critical thinking in language learning through computer-mediated collaborative learning: A preliminary investigation. J Thadphoothon, 2005.