Asian Students, Critical Thinking and English as an Academic Lingua Franca

  • Michael Paton


A number of scholars such as Kutlieh and Egege (2003), Atkinson (1997) and Fox (1994) have argued that critical thinking is incompatible with Asian cultural attitudes. Others have disagreed, arguing from different perspectives that critical thinking is not the preserve of Western culture and that the comparative lack of ‘critical’ quality in the academic work of Asian international students in universities where English is the medium of instruction is due to the difficulties of study in the context of edge of knowledge discourse in a second, third or fourth language (Kumaravadivelu, 2003; Paton, 2005; and Lun, 2009). In this context interviews were undertaken with both postgraduate and undergraduate students in three major universities in China and one in India to find their perceptions of critical thinking and English as an academic lingua franca. Their responses are discussed from the perspective of history and philosophy of science.