Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Second Advisor

Lynn Dhority

Third Advisor

Nina Greenwald


Declining student interest in the study of foreign languages in U.S. universities has prompted calls for reform. This thesis proposes to enhance the teaching of intermediate Italian through the integration of critical thinking skills and innovative techniques of language instruction. Implementing such a program requires shifts in both content and teaching methods. Language (both native and foreign) is not a set of detached components, but rather a tool for communication of perceptions and ideas through meaningful exchanges. The learning of a language should fulfill its promise of proficiency and be a congenial opportunity for success in learning. Exploiting the natural connection between language and thought is beneficial for two reason: first, it aids the acquisition of the target language, as well as improving "verbal" skills in the students' own language; secondly, it enriches the students' intellectual repertoire in both related and unrelated fields. Thinking skills are universal and can be applied to a variety of situations, including personal growth outside of academic development. This thesis presents a background in critical thinking philosophies and classification of thinking skills, and in second language acquisition theories in order to create an alternative intermediate Italian curriculum. The immediate purpose of such a curriculum is to enhance students' linguistic and thinking proficiency through self-expression and communication with others. The long-term goal is to present language within its larger context to make it transferable to real-world situations. Five sample lessons are developed in this thesis, each centered on particular critical thinking skill,. Students are involved in defining applying and transferring the skills to many contexts. Each lesson draws from different critical thinking theories and pedagogical models, encourages students to experiment with language, and helps them to express meaning in its most complex forms. Examples of written and oral exercises and evaluation criteria to assess student progress and overall lesson effectiveness have also been included. Even though intermediate Italian instruction is the main focus of this thesis, the ideas presented are applicable to the teaching of any intermediate level foreign language course.