Teaching Children English Using The Six Thinking Hats Technique

Finding the right way to teach English classes for children can be difficult. How do we keep them interested? How can we help them to remember information? How can we encourage them to want to continue learning?

Six Thinking Hats, a teaching model promoting critical and creative thinking attributed to Maltese physician and consultant Edward de Bono, is a great way to get young learners stimulated. It is straightforward, versatile and popular with children, particularly around 8 years and upward, worldwide. So why not use it for teaching young students English?

The theory is that our thought processes (of both young and old) can be predicted in 6 steps and that classes be prepared in accordance with the structure of this 6-part thought processes.

The six hats are:

White: In this phase we think about the facts of what we are learning. We think about what facts we have and what facts we need to understand a given topic.

Black: In this stage we use out judgment. We use our critical judgment. We think about problems, dangers, if we are wasting time with a topic, etc.

Yellow: Here, we use our judgment again. However, now we are positive. We think about the advantages, benefits, hopeful side to what we are learning.

Red: This stage is characterized by an emotional response to what we are learning. What do I feel about this issue?

Green: This is the creative phase. What is my response to this?

Blue: This is a development of the creative phase but here we consider the ‘overall’ picture. What are the consequences of what I am learning? What should I learn next?

How can this theory be applied to teaching children?

Children can be given colored pages corresponding to the different hats and or even cut-outs of the hats in their different colors.

Over a series of classes they can be taught the associations with each hat and how to express them in English:

Objective terms (White hat):

We know that…

Let’s see what we have already learned…

Creative terms (Green hat):

I believe that…

I think that…

Positive (Yellow hat):

I/We can…

I/We should…

Negative (Black hat):

I don’t think that…

I wouldn’t do…

Intuitive (Red hat):

I feel…

Process (or Progress)

I would continue by…

We should proceed by…

Then, present a series of questions for example:

What would happen is the world was square?

What would happen if your country won the world cup?

What would happen if we were all grown up tomorrow?

If you are working with a group of children, give them a different color hat each and ask each of them for their response based on the color of their hat.

If you are working with an individual child you can rotate the hats and ask for responses to the question based on each one of the hats in turn.

Watch this video to find out more: