R. Aminzadeh, S. Karimloo Sayah

Islamic Azad University, North Tehran Branch (IRAN)
Encouraging students to think critically has for years been synonymous good teaching. To respond to this view, teachers can provide students with a public voice to speak their mind. Doing philosophy with students offer good opportunities to them to take part in conceptual analysis and to use logical thinking. As a result, students' thinking skills can be sharpened and their ability to analyze their own drafts critically will be increased and they will be encouraged to formulate their writing in line with the characteristics and demands of their readers. The present study attempted to investigate the impact of asking philosophical questions on EFL learners' writing ability. To this end, 59 intermediate-level students from a primary school in Iran were assigned to two groups: one experimental (led by philosophical questions) and the other control (directed by non-philosophical, ordinary questions).In order to determine whether the students were homogeneous in terms of language proficiency, a Preliminary Language Test (PET) was administered to them. In the next step, the participants of both experimental and control groups sat for a writing pretest. The aim was to check the homogeneity of participants in terms of their writing ability. During 14 instructional sessions, the students of the experimental group practiced writing led by philosophical questions and the participants of the control group were directed by non-philosophical reading comprehension questions. After the instructional period, all students took a writing posttest. The statistical analysis of results revealed that there was a significant difference between the writing ability of two groups with students in the experimental group outperforming those in the control group. Thus it could be concluded that philosophical community of enquiry had a significant impact on the writing ability of EFL learners. It is worth mentioning that after administering the posttest, the students in the experimental group were given a questionnaire to investigate what attitudes they held towards philosophical questions. The qualitative analysis of the results indicated that students were highly motivated in answering philosophical questions since they were experiencing a new trend in their education. Moreover, they could think more deeply and were able to write more effectively after philosophical discussions.