Scaffolding thinking in ESL lessons: Negotiating challenges

Maya Gunawardena, Mayuri Sooriyampola, Namal Walisundara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The main focus of second language teaching is developing basic language competencies to help learners to communicate in another language. ESL teaching in many developing countries is an area that needs further development to provide best opportunities for students to engage in learning English. Recent research suggests the positive impacts of embedding thinking skills to enhance ESL learning. The Sri Lankan secondary school ESL curriculum emphasises the need for developing students’ competency of extracting necessary information from various types of reading texts but it does not explicitly recognize the need for developing students’ thinking skills. Therefore, this study examined teachers’ perspectives of incorporating thinking focused activities in reading. It employed 20 semi-structured Skype interviews with experienced ESL teachers to discuss how they scaffold thinking in reading lessons in grade 11 textbook prescribed for all state schools. The informants of this study found only simple and interesting themes helped students to think beyond creatively, but unfamiliar topics made students less engaging with the content. Teachers also encounter challenges in scaffolding thinking in multi-level language classrooms because of students’ limited knowledge of English vocabulary and general knowledge. Teachers also think cultural factors such as students’ inbuilt respect for teachers made students less interactive. This paper proposes a few strategies such as bilingual approaches to activate students thinking in ESL acquisition poor environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


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