Instructional Strategies and Integration of Critical Thinking Skills of Preservice English Teachers
Retaining quality teachers and declining numbers of language programs that will help students reach the goal of high proficiency levels for their success in today’s world has been a challenge in recent years. Language teachers have a great role to play in addressing the 21st-century learning needs of the students, e.g., critical thinking skills, which greatly rely on their innovative teaching pedagogies. This current study aimed to investigate the preparedness and effectiveness of the preservice English teachers with their instructional strategies in integrating critical thinking skills in language instruction. The population of the study was comprised of preservice English teachers assigned in secondary schools during their practice teaching stage. A modified researcher-made questionnaire-checklist was developed and validated with items on a four-point Likert Scale used to evaluate the strategies employed in integrating critical thinking skills in English language teaching through consecutive actual classroom teaching observations by the two (2) groups of mentors and by the preservice teachers themselves. The data revealed that based on the three (3) raters, the preservice English teachers have extensively integrated critical thinking skills in language instruction through the use of the higher-order- level of questioning along with analyzing, evaluating, and creating. The reported highest mean was in creating, and the lowest was in evaluating. The PSETs' extent of integration of critical thinking skills was secondly manifested through the provision of communicative tasks. The PSETs have signified three (3) communicative tasks that obtained the highest mean scores:  role plays (mean=3.53),  paired-shared activities (mean=3.52), and  small group work (mean=3.51). Likewise, they have identified the three (3) communicative activities with the lowest means, namely:  keeping a diary (mean=2.54),  interviews (mean=2.55), and jigsaw activities (mean=2.62). It was concluded that the preservice English teachers have extensively integrated critical thinking skills in English language teaching though there are instructional strategies along with questioning strategy through the use of higher-order-level of questions and the provision of communicative tasks that garnered low mean scores which recommend preservice English teachers to enhance maximum utilization of these teaching skills for effective integration of critical thinking skills in language instruction and eventually cater the learning needs of the 21st-century language learners. Hence, a capability enhancement program or training on the integration of critical thinking skills to preservice English teachers was also recommended based on the findings of the study.