Teaching Higher Order Language Skills: Abstract and Critical Thinking as Well as Multiple Meanings

Posted by Erica Warren on

Concrete learners, as well as those who struggle with higher order language processing, often experience difficulties when shifting to more abstract ways of learning.  What does this all mean?
Activities for strengthening abstract thinking and multiple meanings

What is Abstract Thinking?

Abstract thinking is the ability to make sense of concepts that are real, but not visible in the world such as wisdom or freedom.  It enables us to infer meaning and understand ideas that are not tied to physical objects.

What are Multiple Meanings?

Some words have more than one meaning, or multiple meanings.  For example, the word bolt can mean to run quickly, it can refer to a metal fastener, and it can even represent lightning.  
Difficulties may arise when multiple meanings are used in conversation or when reading. Consequently, “reading between the lines” or searching for a deeper meaning can be a challenge. Additionally, concrete or rigid ways of thinking can create miscommunication. It’s easy to misunderstand someone’s intended meaning when they are being sarcastic or they are using unfamiliar vocabulary. I’m sure you have had one of those ah-ha moments in life where you thought, “Oh, that’s what she meant!” Finally, difficulties interpreting jokes, puns, or inferences can lead to one feeling confused or embarrassed. I am sure we all know of a time when someone told a joke and although we laughed along with everyone else, we did not really “get it.”

Although learning this important skill is a process for many students, it does not have to be awkward or difficult. In fact, practicing abstract thinking can be fun. That is the goal of my workbook, Abstract Thinking and Multiple Meanings: Developing Higher Order Language and Mental Flexibility Through Critical Thinking and Visualization. It was written to engage learners and help them to conceptualize and practice higher order language skills.

If you would like to download a free sampling of the workbook, CLICK HERE

Making learning fun


Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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