Pedagogy of Possibility for EFL Learners: Principles, Application, and Course Development


Shiraz University, Iran


This study reports on the development of a reading comprehension course based on Critical Pedagogy principles, and the result of its application on EFL learners' reading comprehension competence, their motivation to read English materials, their democratic attitudes towards their English classrooms, and also their attitudes towards the critical course. The present study is, in fact, a step forward to scrutinize the outcomes of the beginning phases of a dissertation which was intended to develop a tentative model of Critical Pedagogy for English language teaching practice in Iran. Sixty one sophomore students (in two groups) were the participants of the present study. One group was randomly assigned to the control group (n=31) who received instruction based on the conventional method of teaching reading comprehension practiced in most reading comprehension courses in Iran, while the other one made the experimental group (n=30) who received instruction based on the Critical Pedagogy course. Results of the statistical analyses comparing the participants' performance on pre- and post-tests regarding reading comprehension, a questionnaire on motivation, and a democratic attitude questionnaire which were administered before and after the treatment, besides the qualitative data from a semi-structured interview, suggested that despite some problem issues rising while practicing the principles of Critical Pedagogy, the developed course proved to have a significant positive impact on EFL learners’ reading comprehension ability, developing a positive democratic attitude towards their English classroom and also their motivation towards reading English materials. Students’ attitude towards the critical reading comprehension course was also discussed in terms of four emerging themes driven out of the qualitative data analysis. The most important message, however, may be the applicability of Critical Pedagogy principles in Iran, which had been reported by some researchers as impractical.


Main Subjects

The question of the best method for language teaching had obsessed all language teaching programs before the
initiation of a constructivist approach into education. Teachers, and students
alike, had been required to be after, and appreciate, a set of fixed procedures in
order to handle different aspects of the complicated issues of language
acquisition. No one could argue for the rejection of the "right" answers which
had been cultivated by the proponents of the culture of "monologue". Not only
students, who were, despite their differences, taught by means of the same procedures and tested accordingly, but

teachers,  who  were  appreciated  only based  on  how  successful  they  could follow  what  the  method  designers  had
prescribed  for  them  in  order  to  use  for  the  students  of  diverse  variables,  were  dissatisfied  with  the  positivist  approach
to language teaching.  
      When  the  constructivist  outlook entered  the  arena,  it  argued  for  the significance  of  all  people's  ideas,  hence
the  consideration  of  students  and teachers' viewpoints in all aspects of the language  learning  process.  This  was
good  news  for  the  oppressed  who  had always  been  forced  to  accept  the  "right" answers  provided  by 

the  privileged stakeholders.  But  unfortunately,  the constructivist  viewpoints'  entrance  into the  language  education  era  almost
remained  as  an  introduction  in  many places  of  the  world,  and  in  some contexts  the  results  of  their
implementation  never  lived  up  to expectations  (Chomsky  &  Robichaud, 2014).  Our  country,  Iran,  is  just  an
example  of  such  places,  where  after more  than  three  decades  since  the introduction  of  the  principles  of  Critical
Pedagogy  very  little  seems  to  have
happened  to  the  educational  system
regarding  its  advancement  even  towards
accepting  the  principles  of  a  critical
education  (Aliakbari  &  Allahmoradi,
2012), let alone their implementation. As
Pishghadam  and  Mirzaee  (2008)
maintain,  the  educational  system  of  Iran
is  still  in  the  modern  era  (cited  in
Pishghadam  &  Naji  Meidani,  2012,  p.
466). Every year, the educational system
installs  strict  rules  regarding  teaching
and  learning  practices,  and  imposes  a
standardized curriculum to be used by all
schools  (Pishghadam  &  Naji  Meidani,
2012)  ,  regardless  of  their  specific
educational  and  societal  contexts.  Our
educational  system  seems  to  have  not
even  accepted  the  very  idea  behind  the
notion  of  Critical  Pedagogy  which  is  to
respect  the  differences,  and  thus  regards
all  types  of  learners,  on  the  one  hand,
and all kinds of teachers, on the other, to
be  treated  the  same.  This  is  the  very
basic  reason  for  developing  only  a
standardized  curriculum  for  the  whole
country.  Besides,  learners  are  not  given
the right to choose the way in which they
are  taught  and  tested,  as  well  as  what
they should be taught, and teachers have
had  little  opportunity  to  express  their
viewpoints  regarding  how  textbooks
should  be  written  to  fit  the  specific
contexts  in  which  they  teach.  As
Pishghadam  &  Naji  Meidani  (2012)
claim, "Centralization, transmission, and
behaviorism  are  prevalent  from  the
primary  years  of  education  through  the
tertiary  level,  with  students  accustomed
to  didactic  teaching  and  learning"  (p.
       Furthermore,  despite  going  through
English  language  courses  for  6  years,
Iranian  high  school  seniors'  knowledge
and  use  of  English  does  not  come  up  to
expectations,  and  many  university
students  seem  to  come  up  against
difficulty  even  when  passing  a  simple
General  English  course.  Though  such
problems may have diverse sources, one
seems to us to be a lack of awareness of
the  very  principles  of  the  Critical
Pedagogy  on  the  part  of  the  teachers
(Esmaili  &  Barjesteh,  2013)  and  the
learners,  or  to  take  its  premises  for
granted  in  the  rare  cases  in  which  these
principles are known.  
        In  order  to  better  portrait  the
conditions,  an  investigation  of  the
Constitution of Iran may be helpful.

Education  and  language  teaching  in  the
Constitution: a critical stance
When reviewing the literature on Critical
Pedagogy,  we  got  concerned  with
exploring  the  Constitution  for  articles
regarding  education  in  general,  and
language  education,  in  particular.  We
noticed  that  the  3rd  and  30th  articles
state that the government has the duty of
directing  all  its  resources  to  free
education  for  everyone  at  all  levels;
besides, in article 104, it is declared that
In  order  to  ensure  Islamic  equity  and
cooperation in carrying out the programs
and  to  bring  about  the  harmonious
progress  of  all  units  of  production,  both
industrial  and  agricultural,  councils
consisting  of  the  representatives  of  the
workers,  peasants,  other  employees,  and
managers, will be formed in educational
and administrative units, units of service
industries,  and  other  units  of  a  like
nature,  similar  councils  will  be  formed,
composed  of  representatives  of  the
members of those units. (Constitution of
Islamic Republic of Iran, Article 104)
       The  fact,  however,  is  that  although
education  is  given  high  priority  in  the
Constitution,  there  is  no  indication  of  a
reference  to  foreign  language  education
in  the  whole  text,  except  for  a  reference
to  Arabic  language  teaching  in  the  16th
article.  There  was  no  indication  of  an
article  regarding  foreign  language
education  in  the  ministry  of  education
documents,  either.  This  is  also
articulated  by  Aghagolzadeh  and  Davari
"Looking  at  the  current  changing
situation  of  Iranian  society  reveals  that
the lack of any applicable and justifiable
language  in  education  policy  is  totally
visible". (p. 405)  
        Although  this  may  seem  to  be  a
lack  of  attention  to  foreign  language
education, it also indicates the likelihood
of  existing  a  second  meaning  which  is
the  capability  of  the  Constitution  for  a
reform  in  language  education,  since  the
Constitution  does  not  articulate  any
prohibition  of  attending  to  foreign
language  education.  This  is  also
confirmed  by  the  Fundamental  Reform
Document  of  Education  (FRDE)  (2011)
which  is  developed  by  the  Ministry  of
Education,  the  Supreme  Council  of
Cultural  Revolution,  and  the  Supreme
Council of Education.  
       In  FRDE,  there  are  references  to
foreign  language  education:  "provision
of foreign language education within the
optional  (Core-elective)  section  of  the
curriculum  framework  by  observing  the
principle  of  stabilization  and
enforcement  of  the  Islamic–Iranian
identity"  (FRDE,  chapter  7,  p.  32).
Moreover,  though  less  than  enough,
there  seems  to  exist  traces  of  Critical
Pedagogy principles (though not Critical
Language  Pedagogy)  in  some  chapters,
which  indicates  the  possibility  for  the
application  of  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  in  the  educational  system:
"Provision  and  development  of  equal
learning opportunities both for male and
female  students  in  various  areas  of  the
country  that  take  into  account  their
characteristics  and  differences"  (FRDE,
chapter  7,  p.  36).  What  is  of  note,
however,  is  that  the  FRDE  does  not
seem  to  be  more  than  a  set  of  general
guidelines  whose  applicability,  at  least
regarding  the  language  teaching  issue,
has not put into practice yet.  

        In  the  present  piece  of  research,
Critical  Pedagogy  principles  (see  the
"method"  section  below)  have  been
applied  to  develop  an  EFL  reading
comprehension  course  in  order  to
investigate  the  effect  of  the  course  on
learners'  reading  comprehension  ability,
their  motivation  to  read  English
materials,  changes  (if  any)  in  their
attitudes  towards  how  democracy  is
treated  in  their  classrooms,  and  their
attitudes  towards  the  critical  reading
comprehension  course.  In  fact,  the
present  study  is  a  step  forward  to
examine  the  outcomes  of  the  beginning
phases  of  a  dissertation  which  aimed  at
developing  a  tentative  model  of  Critical
Pedagogy  for English language teaching
practice  in  Iran.  The  rationale  behind
choosing  reading  comprehension  was
that this is the skill which is practiced in
all  educational  contexts  in  Iran  (i.e.,
schools,  universities,  language
institutes),  and  is  mostly  favored  by  the
ministries  of  Education  and  Sciences,
Research,  and  Technology  as  the  most
important  skill  to  be  acquired  by  the
       According  to  a  classification  of
different definitions of Critical Pedagogy
and  the  different  contexts  in  which  they
can  be  used  (Akbarpour,  forthcoming)
there is no room, at least for the present
situation,  for  applying  a  strong  version
of Critical Pedagogy in  our context and,
thus,  to  confront  the  whole  educational
system;  as  a  result,  a  weak  version  of
Critical  Pedagogy  (Akbarpour,
forthcoming)  was  employed  in  the
present  study.  In  fact,  this  piece  of
research,  as  Schultz,  Mcsurley,  and
Salguero  (2013)  state,  "offers  students
opportunities  to  engage  in  both
democratic  processes  and  experiential
learning while also meeting benchmarks
and  standards"  (p.  53).  Thus,  besides
following the very basic principles of the
educational  policy,  such  as  teaching
reading  comprehension  as  the  most
important  skill  in  all  educational
contexts,  the  researchers  have  tried  to
provide  a  space  for  practicing  Critical
Pedagogy in EFL classrooms.  
Literature Review
What is Critical Pedagogy?
According  to  Freire  (1972)  education  is
not  a  neutral  activity  but  a  basically
political  and  power  related  one,  since  it
either  redresses  the  imbalances  in  the
society  or  makes  the  biased  conditions
worse.  This  remark  elucidates  Critical
Pedagogy,  which  in  Conagarajah
(2005)'s  terms  is  "a  way  of  doing
learning  and  teaching"  (Conagarajah,
2005,  p.  932),  and  whose  mission  is  to
find the political and societal inequalities
regarding  education,  and  to  initiate  a
change in order to help the oppressed to
have  a  voice.  By  this  means,  learners
and  teachers'  ideas  are  respected  by
virtue  of  the  very  fact  that  in  Critical
Theory  every  individual  is  regarded  as
significant in the society.  
       As  Thomson-Bunn  (2014)  argues,
"there  is  a  lack  of  definitional  precision
surrounding  critical  pedagogy  and  its
core  terms".  Some  critiques  of  Critical
Pedagogy believe that the reason behind
its falling short of practice is in the way
it  is  defined  (see  for  example  Durst,
2006).  However,  according  to  the
literature  introducing  the  concept  of
Critical  Pedagogy  and  the  different
disciplines related to it, one can identify
the  three  elements  of  "hegemony
identification,  awareness-raising,  and
change"  inherent  in  the  concept  of

Critical  Pedagogy  (Akbarpour,
forthcoming).  Therefore,  considering
these  three  ingredients,  Critical
Pedagogy  may  be  broadly  defined  as  a
framework  for  learning  and  teaching
which strives to:
1. Identify the hegemony, the oppressive
cultural  and  sociopolitical  conditions  in
education  and  the  related  contexts,  and
the  way  the  ideology  behind  the
oppressive  powers  interact  with  the
involved people's beliefs, and  
2.  Encourage  educators,  including
teachers, and students to be  
       A.  aware  of  the  oppressive  cultural
and  sociopolitical  conditions  and  the
ideology behind them
       B. emancipated by means of critical
       C.  able  to  have  a  voice  and  to
initiate  a  positive  change  for  the  better
(Akbarpour, forthcoming).
Studies on Critical Pedagogy in practice  
Although  the  concept  of  Critical
Pedagogy  has  been  appealing  to  many
EFL/ESL  practitioners  since  its
introduction,  only  a  few  pieces  of
research  have  put  its  principles  into
practice  in  language  classrooms,  and
many  have  only  theoretically  elaborated
on  its  benefits  regarding  language
learning and teaching practices. As Ross
(2007)  better  explains,  "the  few  authors
or  practitioners  who  offer  concrete
examples  of  critical  teaching  and
learning practices are contrasted with the
relative many who focus on theorizing a
vision  of  society  and  schooling  that  is
intended  to  shape  the  direction  of  a
critical  pedagogy...  Few,  if  any,  critical
pedagogues believe that critical teaching
practices  can  be  reduced  to  recipes"  (p.
160).  Critical  pedagogues,  including
Henry  Giroux  (1997),  Ken  Osborne
(1990), and Stephen Sweet (1998) argue
that  "critical  theory  needs  to  move
beyond educational ideology, examining
how it can be meaningfully employed in
classroom  practice"  (cited  in  Breuing,
2011,  p.  2).  This  issue  is  even  more
noticeable  regarding  studies  concerning
EFL/ESL practices.  
       During  our  literature  review,  there
were  moments  of  joy  when  we
encountered a  study  which had traces of
practicality in its title, but when we read
the  whole  paper  we  did  not  observe  but
the  same  mentioning  of  theories.  Of
course,  there  were  some  studies
introducing  ways to apply  the principles
of CP, for instance through vignettes, but
they  were  mostly  concerning  issues  not
related to our context in Iran, such as the
hip  hop  culture  or  racism,  frequently
concerning  African-American  students
(i.e. Barrett, 2013; Meacham, Anderson,
&  Correa,  2013;Simmons,  Carpenter,
Ricks, Walker, Parks, Marquin, & Davis,
2013;  Williams,  2009).  Besides,  most
studies  seemed  to  have  based  their
course- or practice-development on what
we  would  like  to  call  their  principles  of
CP,  for  none  reported  to  have  had  a
thorough literature review on the history
of  Critical  Pedagogy  and  its  proposed
principles  before  their  practice,  and  to
have  checked  the  appropriateness  of
such principles for their context. In Iran,
the  situation  seems  to  be  even  worse,
since language education still appears to
suffer from what Pennycook twenty five
years ago called a “divorce from broader
issues  in  educational  theory”
(Pennycook,  1990,  p.  1),  and  thus,  even
6 | Pedagogy of Possibility for EFL
fewer  pieces  of  research  have
investigated  the  Critical  Pedagogy  issue
in  practice,  and  many  have  confined
their  research  to  investigating  Iranian
teachers’  attitudes  towards  Critical
Pedagogy  (i.e.  Alliakbari  &
Allahmoradi, 2012; Davari, Iranmehr, &
Erfani, 2012; Esmaili & Barjesteh, 2013;
Naderi  Anari  &  Zamanian,  2014;
Pishvaei  &  Kasaian,  2013;  Shabani  &
Khorsandi,  2014),  or  have  examined
Critical  Pedagogy  in  general,  and  not
Critical  Language  Pedagogy  (e.g.
Abdelrahim,  2007).  No  pieces  of
research,  to  the  knowledge  of  the
researchers,  have  put  the  principles  of
Critical  Pedagogy  into  practice  after
investigating  their  appropriateness  for
the educational context of Iran, and none
have  ever  made  a  language  teaching
course  based  on  such  principles.
Therefore,  in  order  to  fill  in  the  gaps  in
the  literature,  the  present  piece  of
research  has  aimed  at  answering  the
following questions:  
What  does  a  critical  reading
comprehension course look like?
Does  employing  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  have  any  effects  on  reading
comprehension ability of EFL learners?  
Will  a  critical  reading  comprehension
course  make  EFL  learners  more
motivated  towards  learning  English  and
reading English materials?   
Will  a  critical  reading  comprehension
course  change  learners’  democratic
attitudes  towards  their  English
What is the learners’ attitude towards the
critical reading comprehension course?
The  present  study  adopted  a  mixed-methods design including a pre-test post-test  design  with  a  control  group,  plus
qualitative  data  analysis  techniques,  for
scrutinizing  the  effect  of  the  application
of  Critical  Pedagogy  principles  on
reading  comprehension  competence  of
EFL  learners,  their  attitudes  towards
English  language  learning  and  reading
English  material,  and  their  democratic
attitudes  towards  their  English
classrooms.  First,  score  distributions  of
89  sophomore  students  majoring  in
English teaching  and English translation
on  their  Reading  Comprehension  (2)
course  were  explored in  order to choose
homogeneous  groups  to  take  part  in  the
study.  Based  on  the  results,  61  of  the
students  (in  two  different  classes)  were
recognized  as  appropriate  to  participate,
and their scores were taken as their pre-test  scores.  One  class  was  randomly
assigned to control  (n=31) and the other
made  the  experimental  group  (n=30).
The  data  for  this  research  was  collected
during  the  first  semester  of  the  2014-2015  academic  year  in  the  participants'
Reading Comprehension (3) course.  
      The following four instruments were
employed  for  fulfilling  the  purpose  of
the  current  study.  The  first  one  was  a
reading  comprehension  test  which  was
developed  especially  for  the  purpose  of
the  present  research  based  on  the
materials  covered  during  the  semester,
and  aimed  at  testing  different  sub-skills
of  reading  comprehension.  This
instrument  was  utilized  as  a  posttest  in
order to test the control and experimental
groups  in  terms  of  their  reading
comprehension competence.  
       The  second  instrument  was  a

questionnaire  on  the  participants’
attitudes  and  opinions  regarding  reading
comprehension  before  and  after  the
experiment. This questionnaire consisted
of  two  questions  which  required  the
participants' to write about their attitudes
towards  reading  comprehension.
Whenever  necessary,  the  participants
were  asked  to  explain  about  their
answers  in  order  for  the  researchers  to
know about the nature of their responses
and  what  they  really  intended.  Results
generated  by  this  instrument  were
analyzed  both  quantitatively  and
qualitatively.  The  quantitative  technique
(t-test)  was  used  to  explore  changes  (if
any) in the participants' attitudes towards
reading  comprehension  during  the
treatment,  while  the  qualitative
technique  helped  the  researchers
transcribe  the  results  obtained  by  means
of  the  third  instrument  whenever
       The  third  instrument,  whose  results
were  transcribed  and  analyzed  through
qualitative  techniques  of  grounded
theory,  was  semi-structured  interviews
consisting of 5 open-ended items, which
invited  the  participants  to  express  their
attitudes  towards  the  critical  reading
comprehension  course  at  the  beginning,
during, and after the experiment. Results
of  the  interviews  were  reviewed  several
times  to  find  the  recurrent  patterns  for
classifying  the  data  and  generating
themes  in  order  to  answer  the  research
       Finally,  the  fourth  instrument  was  a
democratic  attitude  questionnaire  whose
items  were  taken  from  Ekman’  study
(2006)  regarding  school  effects  on
democratic  attitudes  among  school
students.  By  democratic  attitudes  of  the
students,  we  mean  the  attitudes  of  the
students  towards  how  democracy  is
treated  in  their  classroom.  In  fact,  the
present  paper  aimed  at  investigating
whether  the  attitudes  of  the  students
towards  how  democracy  is  treated  in
their  classrooms  would  change  after  the
treatment or, in other words, whether the
experimental  group  would  feel  a  more
democratic  atmosphere  in  their
classroom as a result of the treatment.
       It may be worth mentioning that we
just  attempted  at  the  educational  aspect
of  democracy  as  introduced  by  Dewey
(1916), to whose theory of education the
idea of a democratic classroom is traced
back.  Dewey's  (1916)  theory  of
education  explores  the  relationship
between  democracy  and  education,  and
advocates  a  student-centered  pedagogy.
The  viewpoints  of  the  proponents  of
democracy  in  education  are  in  close
agreement  with  those  of  critical
pedagogues,  and  Dewey  even  considers
democracy  as the central aim of Critical
pedagogy  (Breuing,  2011);  this
relationship  between  Critical  Pedagogy
and  democracy  made  the  grounds  on
which  we  decided  to  explore  the
participants'  democratic  attitudes  as  one
of  our  dependent  variables.  In  a
democratic  classroom,  teachers  are  not
considered  as  dictators  of  knowledge,
and thus there is shared responsibility for
learning.  Students  enjoy  freedom  of
speech, freedom to choose, and freedom
to  question  the  system  (Waterman,
2007).  "Schools  are  miniature  societies
and  should  focus  on  real-life  problems
students face in school or will face in the
future"  (Moss  &  Lee,  2010,  p.  39).
Kubow  and  Kinney  (2000)  developed
eight  characteristics  for  a  democratic
classroom  as  follows:  active
participation,  avoidance  of  textbook
dominated  instruction,  reflective
8 | Pedagogy of Possibility for EFL
thinking,  student  decision-making  and
problem-solving  choices,  controversial
issues,  individual  responsibilities,
recognition  of  human  dignity,  and
relevance. For the purpose of the present
piece  of  research  we  made  use  of
Ekman’s  (2006)  democratic  attitude
questionnaire,  which  is  regarding
Dewey's  (1916)  theory  of  education  and
Kubow  and  Kinney's  (2000)
characteristics of democratic classrooms,
and  is  in  line  with  Critical  Pedagogy
       A  classical  three-stage  Delphi
technique  (Walker  &  Selfe,  1996),
which  makes  use  of  three  postal  rounds
and  can  be  administered  by  email
(Landeta, 2006, cited in Khatib & Fathi,
2014),  was  employed  to  examine  the
content validity of the questionnaire. The
Delphi  technique  is  defined  as  a  multi-staged  survey  which  attempts  at
achieving  consensus  on  an  important
issue  (Cohen,  Manion,  &  Morrison,
2007;  McKenna,  1994).  Employing  the
Delphi  technique,  we  made  use  of  the
opinions  of  ten  PhD  holders  in  TEFL,
whose  experience  in  teaching  English
ranged  between  8-20  years,  and  four  of
whom  worked  in  the  area  of  Critical
Pedagogy,  in  order  to  validate  the
questionnaire  items  for  the  context  of
Iran.  The  result  of  the  Delphi  technique
reduced  the  number  of  questionnaire
items  form  twelve  to  seven.  The  items
which  were  recognized  as  appropriate
for  the  purpose  of  the  present  study  are
as follows:  
1) Students are allowed to disagree with
the  teacher  or  to  question  what  the
teacher is teaching.  
2)  Teachers  respect  students’  opinions
and  encourage  them  to  express  their
opinions during class.
3) Students feel free to express opinions
in  class  even  when  their  opinions  are
different from most of the other students.
4)  Students  are  allowed  to  bring  up
current  political  events  for  discussion  in
5)  Teachers  encourage  students  to  work
cooperatively to solve problems.
6)  Teachers  lecture  and  students  take
7)  Teachers  are  always  right  and  thus
students must obey them.
       These  items  were  on  a  likert-scale
ranging from “often” to “never”, which
were, therefore,  coded from one to four.
The  reliability  of  the  new  questionnaire
was  estimated  to  be  0.82  on  Cronbach
alpha  measure.  The  questionnaire  was
administered  before  and  after  the
experiment  to  know  about  whether  the
participants’  attitudes  towards  how
democracy  is  treated  in  their  classroom
will change after the critical pedagogical
reading comprehension course.  
       Both  groups  received  the  same
amount  of  classroom  instruction  (28
sessions,  each  lasting  for  90  minutes)
and were instructed by the same teacher.
The course materials  were  also identical
for  both.  The  only  difference  was  in  the
method chosen in order to teach reading
comprehension to the participants. While
the  control  group  was  instructed  by
means  of  the  conventional  method  of
teaching  reading  comprehension
practiced in most reading comprehension

classes  in  Iran,  the  experimental  group
received  instruction  based  on  the
assumptions  of  Critical  Pedagogy.  More
specifically,  while  the  classroom  in  the
control  group  was  a  typical  teacher-fronted  one,  the  experimental  group
experienced  a  rather  different  approach.
This approach will be explained in detail
in  terms  of  Richards’  (2001)  proposal
regarding  the  following  five  factors
based on which questions specific to any
educational  situation  could  be
       (1).  Program  factors:  questions
regarding concerns of the program
       (2).  Teacher  factors:  questions
regarding teacher concerns
       (3).  Learner  factors:  questions
regarding learner concerns
       (4).  Content  factors:  questions
regarding  the  content  and  organization
of the material  
       (5).  Pedagogical  factors:  questions
regarding  principles  underlying  the
materials  and  the  pedagogical  design  of
the  materials,  including  choice  of
activities and exercise types (p. 259).  
       We  further  divided  the  first  factor
into “language policy” and “curriculum
development  factor”,  and  thus  the
resulting  framework consisted  of the six
factors  of  curriculum  development,
language  policy,  teacher,  learner,
content,  and  pedagogical  concerns.  For
the  reasons  mentioned  before,  the
researchers had to adopt "a weak version
of  critical  pedagogy"  (Akbarpour,
forthcoming)  for  the  purpose  of  the
present research, as a result of which the
research  focused  only  on  some  of  the
mentioned  processes.  In  fact,  areas
which  were  influenced  least  by  the
teacher's  critical  stance  were  the
language  policy  and  the  general  policy
of  the  curriculum  development,  and
areas  mostly  influenced  by  the  teacher
were  regarding  teacher,  learner,  content,
and pedagogical factors.
       In order to develop a framework for
incorporating  the  critical  pedagogy
principles  into  the  reading
comprehension  course  for  the
experimental  group,  after  reviewing
nearly  three  hundred  papers  and  book
chapters  regarding  Critical  Pedagogy,
the  researchers  decided  to  make  use  of
Crawford's  (1978,  pp.  73-112)  twenty
principles  of  Critical  Pedagogy  (cited  in
Abednia,  2010)  which  focused  on
different  dimensions  of  a  critical
educational program. In other words, the
concept  of  "Critical  Pedagogy
principles"  was  operationalized  by
means  of  what  Crawford  (1978)  offered
as  principles  of  Critical  Pedagogy  for
ELT  programs.  These  principles  were
found  to  present  a  rather  fuller  account
of  the  premises  expressing  CP  as  no
other  different  principles  emerged  from
the  literature  reviewed.  Since  these
principles had originally been developed
to  provide  a  theoretical  framework  for
ELT programs in general, they needed to
be  tailored  to  the  specifics  of  the  focus
of  the  present  piece  of  research.
Accordingly,  our  framework’s  items
were  classified  based  on  the  six  factors
mentioned  above  (four  of  which  had
been  taken  from  Richards  (2001)),  and
thus, the order in which we classified the
items  were  different  from  the  one
presented by Crawford (1978).  
       As  it  was  stated  earlier,  the  final
draft  of  our  framework  had  originally
made use of the six factors of curriculum
development,  language  policy,  teacher,
learner,  content,  and  pedagogical
concerns  as  the  factors  used  in  the
10 | Pedagogy of Possibility for EFL
process  of  the  first  factor  analysis
(Akbarpour,  forthcoming),  and  thus,  the
final emerging principles were the result
of  estimating  all  these  six  processes.
However,  since  the  present  piece  of
research  aimed  at  taking  only  the  four
factors  of  teacher,  learner,  content,  and
pedagogical  concerns  into  account,
another  factor  analysis  was  run  to
produce  critical  pedagogy  principles
which  were  especially  appropriate  for
the present study. Therefore, the original
twenty-five  critical  pedagogy  items
which  had  been  derived  from
Crawford’s work  (1978),  and  had  been
recognized as appropriate for the context
of Iran, were again put to factor analysis
while the six factors had been reduced to
four.  As  a  result,  the  instrument  was
validated  through  confirmatory  factor
analysis  and  the  number  of  items  was
reduced  to  twelve.  These  items  were
employed  as  the  general  principles  to
teach  reading  comprehension  to  the
experimental group.  
      a. Teacher factors:  
      1.    The  teacher  participates  in  the
process  of  knowing  as  a  learner
among  learners,  since  knowing
as a process of transformation is
participation  in  the  human
2.   The  teacher's  function  is  one  of
posing problems, since education
is for posing of problems.  
       According  to  the  first  principle,
there  seems  to  be  a  shift  of  position  for
the  critical  teacher  from  that  of  "expert,
trainer,  or  supervisor,  to  that  of
collaborator,  consultant  or  facilitator"
(Richards,  1989).  The  discourse  of  the
overriding  educational  practices,
according to critical pedagogists, follows
the  “banking”  model  of  education
(Freire,  1972)  which  considers  learners
as  passive  recipients  of  pre-packaged
knowledge.  While  the  above-mentioned
principles  are  in  contradiction  with  the
banking  model,  they  never  equalize  the
roles  assumed  for  the  teacher  and  the
students.  In  other  words,  although
teachers  are  classroom  participants  like
their  students,  and  they  contribute  their
insights  to  the  process,  their  authority  is
preserved  due  to  their  sophisticated
knowledge  regarding  the  subject  matter,
coupled  with  their  teaching  experiences.
This  is  what  resolves  the  seemingly
contradiction of being a “learner among
learners”  and  a  “problem  poser”  at  the
same  time,  and  would  be  an  answer  to
those  critiques  who  believe  that  Critical
Pedagogy falls short of offering a sort of
control  over  the  teaching  process,  and
results in a messy classroom condition.  
       Bickel  (2006)  exemplifies
“democratizing the classroom” whereby
students  decide  about  such  issues  as  the
subject  matter,  the  amount  of  reading
assigned  per  week,  the  due  date  for
assignments,  and  the  class  attendance
policy.  This  co-ownership  assumed  by
the  students,  however,  as  Bickel  argues,
gives  the  instructor  more  respect  and,
paradoxically, more authority among the
students.  As  Friere  (1998)  suggests,  “to
teach is not to transfer knowledge but to
create the possibilities for the production
or construction of knowledge” (cited in
Fobes & Caufman, 2008, p. 28).
       In  an  introduction  to  Pedagogy  of
the  Oppressed,  Donaldo  Macedo  (2000)
introduces  Freire’s  problem-posing
education in the following way:  
“Paulo  Freire's  invigorating  critique  of
the  dominant  banking  model  of
education  leads  to  his  democratic
proposals  of  problem-posing  education
where  "men  and  women  develop  their
power to perceive critically the way they
exist  in  the  world  with  which  and  in
which  they  find  themselves;  they  come
to see the world not as a static reality but
as  a  reality  in  the  process  of
transformation.” (p. 12)
       Furthermore,  according  to  Freire
(2000),  “Problem-posing  education,
responding  to  the  essence  of
communiques  and  embodies
communication. It epitomizes the special
characteristic  of  consciousness:  being
conscious  of,  not  only  as  intent  on
objects  but  as  turned  in  upon  itself  in  a
Jasperian  "split"—consciousness  as
consciousness of consciousness.” (P. 79)    
       b. Learner factors:  
3.  Following  a  problem-posing
education, the student is one who
acts on objects.
4.   The  student  possesses  the  right
to and power of decision-making,
since  each  person  is  to  fulfill
his/her  human  vocation,  and  if
each  person  has  the  right  to
name the world.
       These  two  principles  are  quite  well
explained  by  the  two  quotations
mentioned  above  regarding  problem-posing  education.  As  Friere  (2000)
argues,  “any  situation  in  which  some
individuals prevent others from engaging
in  the  process  of  inquiry  is  one  of
violence.  The  means  used  are  not
important;  to  alienate  human  beings
from  their  own  decision-making  is  to
change them into objects.” (p. 85). The
power  of  decision-making  by  the
students  when  collaborating  the  content
of  the  course  with  them  was  evident  in
the  joy  and  excitement  from  the  part  of
the  students,  and  this  may  explain  what
Jesús  Gómez  (Pato)  called  the
“Pedagogy  of  the  Shine  in  the  Eyes”
(cited  in  Puigvert,  2008).  This  was  only
an example of the feeling of success and
satisfaction  reported  by  both  students
and  the  teacher  while  experiencing  a
“critical” classroom.  
       To  employ  the  problem-posing
approach  regarding  learner  factors  more
specifically, the researchers made use of
the  five  steps  mentioned  by  Auerbach
(1992)  as  follows:  1.  describe  the
content,  2.  define  the  problem,  3.
personalize  the  problem,  4.  discuss  the
problem,  and  5.  discuss  alternatives  to
the  problem  (cited  in  Izadinia,  2009),
and  also  Naiditch  (2009)’s  guidelines
regarding  teaching  reading  for  social
action (p. 97).
 c. Content factors:  
5.  The  content  of  curriculum
derives  from  the  life  situation  of
the  learners  as  expressed  in  the
themes of their reality, the object
of  knowing  is  the  person's
existential situation  
6.  The  learners  produce  their  own
learning  materials  since  s/he  is
considered  as  a  creative  actor,
and  since  each  person  has  the
right  to  name  the  world  for
7.        7.  The  content  of  curriculum
aims at teaching conscientization
(which  is  the  ability  to  acquire
critical  perception  of  the
interaction  of  phenomena)  to

8.  If an aim of conscientization is to
acquire critical perception of the
interaction  of  phenomena,  then
curriculum  content  is  open  to
interdisciplinary treatment.
       These content-related principles are,
like  the  other  critical  pedagogy
principles,  in  line  with  the  problem-posing education, in which the learner is
the  one  who  acts  on  objects,  and  whose
final aim is learners’ conscientization. In
fact,  all  critical  pedagogy  principles,
seem  to  be  directly  related  to,  and
affected  by,  the  principle  of
“conscientization”,  since,  by  its
definition, it seems to be the final aim of
critical  pedagogy.  Therefore,  strategies
suggested  to  apply  other  CP  principles,
including  problem-posing  education,  are
suggestions  to  pave  the  way  for
conscientizing learners.   
       Each  learner  brings  with  him/her  a
set  of  “life  situations”  or  “views
impregnated  with  anxieties,  doubts,
hopes,  or  hopelessness”  which  “imply
significant themes on the basis of which
the program content of education can be
built” (Freire, 2000, P. 93). Freire further
explains “life situations” in terms of “the
reality  which  mediates  men”  and  “the
perception  of  that  reality  held  by
educators  and  people”  and  asserts  that
“we must go to them to find the program
content of education”  (Italics  added)  (p.
96).  The  eighth  principle,  which  is  the
result  of  its  preceding  principle,  implies
using  a  variety  of  means  in  the
curriculum  content  including
technology,  which  has  been  reported  to
be  useful  in  education  (see  for  example,
Bishop,  2010;  Haugue,  2011;  Hussein,
       d. Pedagogical factors:   
9.  The  organization  of  curriculum
recognizes  the  class  as  a  social
entity  and  resource,  and  thus
makes  use  of  dialog  as  the
context  of  the  educational
10. Combined  reflection  and  action
(praxis)  constitute  the  method  of
education,  since  praxis  is  a
method of knowing.  
 11.  The  teacher’s  task  is  first  to
organize  generative  themes
(which  are  derived  from  the
learners'  existential  situation)  as
problems and second to organize
subject  matter  as  it  relates  to
those themes.
12.  Life  situation  and  the  learners'
perceptions  of  it  inform  the
organization  of  subject  matter,
i.e.  skills  and  information
acquisition,  within  the
       In explaining “dialog” as the context
for  the  educational  situation,  Freire
(2000) argues:  
“The investigation of what I have termed
the  people’s  "thematic  universe"—the
complex  of  their  "generative  themes"—
inaugurates the dialogue of  education  as
the  practice  of  freedom.  The
methodology  of  that  investigation  must
likewise  be  dialogical,  affording  the
opportunity  both  to  discover  generative
themes  and  to  stimulate  people's
awareness in regard to these themes.” (p.
       Guilar  (2006)  has  introduced  and
elaborated  on  four  major  features  for
dialogic  instruction  which  have  been
employed  in  the  present  experiment
when  feasible.  These  features  are:
listening  and  respect,  direction,
character  building,  and  authority.  In  an
article  regarding  how  to  do  praxis  in
writing  classrooms,  Rypstat  (2002)  lists
some  suggestions  based  on  students  and
teachers’ roles. Although these hints are
suggested  for  writing  classrooms,  many
of  them  seem  to  work  in  teaching  other
language skills, and thus were employed
in the present research.  
Results and Discussion
The  first  research  question,  i.e.“What
does  a  critical  reading  comprehension
course  look like?”, was answered  in  the
method section, using the twelve critical
pedagogy  principles  which  were
validated  and  divided  into  the  four
factors  of  “teacher”,  “learners”,
“content”,  and  “pedagogy”  through  a
process  of  factor  analysis.  In  other
words,  in  the  present  study,  a  critical
reading  comprehension  course  was
defined as one which is based on Critical
Pedagogy principles in terms of teacher,
learner, content, and pedagogical factors.  
       The  second  research  question,  i.e.
“Does  employing  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  have  any  effects  on  reading
comprehension  ability  of  EFL
learners?”,  was  answered  positively
using  two  independent-samples  and  one
paired-samples  t-test  as  follows  (see  the
appendix  for  the  tables).  The  first
independent-samples  t-test,  which  had
been  employed  to  explore  the
homogeneity  of  the  control  and
experimental  groups,  indicated  a  mean
difference  of  -.19462  between  their  pre-test  reading  comprehension  (2)  scores
used as the pre-test, which did not prove
significant  at  0.05  level.  The  second
independent-samples  t-test,  which  had
aimed  at  examining  any  significant
difference  in  the  post-test  scores  of  the
control and experimental groups in terms
of  reading  comprehension,  showed  a
mean  difference  of  1.34409  which
proved to be significant. The first paired-samples  t-test  which  examined  any
significant  growth  in  the  reading
comprehension  scores  of  the
experimental  group  from  the  pre-  to  the
post-test  indicated  a  mean  difference  of
1.1333  which  proved  significant  at  0.01
       In order to answer the third question
of  the  experiment,  i.e.  “Will a critical
reading  comprehension  course  make
EFL  learners  more  motivated  towards
reading  English  materials?”,  two
independent-samples  and  one  paired-samples  t-test  were  employed  (see  the
appendix  for  the  tables).  The  first
independent-samples  t-test,  examining
any  significant  difference  in  the  pre-test
scores  of  the  control  and  experimental
groups  in  terms  of  their  motivation  in
reading  English  materials,  illustrated  a
mean  difference  of  -.12796  which  was
not significant at 0.05 level.  The second
independent-samples  t-test,  showing  a
mean  difference  of  -.56022,  indicated  a
significant  difference  in  the  post-test
scores  of  the  control  and  experimental
groups  in  terms  of  motivation,  and
finally,  the  paired-samples  t-test,  which
aimed  at  exploring  any  significant
growth in the scores of the experimental
group  from  the  pre-  to  the  post-test,
showed  a  mean  difference  of  -.40000
which  proved  to  be  significant  at  0.05
level.  This  was  also  clear  from  the  fact
that  the  instructor  was  mostly  engaged
with  speaking  to  the  learners  of  the
experimental  group  who  indicated  a
greater  enthusiasm  to  speak  about  their
problems,  their  likes  and  dislikes,  and

their  learning  process  than  those  in  the
control  group,  and  this  may  be  an
indicative  of  motivation  in  the
experimental  group.  Moreover,  personal
interviews  of  the  instructor  with  the
learners  in  both  the  control  and  the
experimental  groups  revealed  the  same
results.  Accordingly,  the  third  research
question was answered positively.     
       In  order  to  answer  the  fourth
question  of  the  experiment,  i.e.“Will a
critical  reading  comprehension  course
change  learners’  democratic  attitudes
towards  their  English  classrooms”,  a
democratic  attitude  questionnaire  was
employed  which  consisted  of  seven
items  on  a  likert-scale  ranging  from
“often” to “never”. The  following tables
illustrate  the  control  and  experimental
groups’  responses  to  the  questionnaire
before and after the experiment.

The  control  group’s  responses
before and after the experiment, and also
those  of  the  experimental  group  before
the  experiment,  indicate  that  they  had
not experienced quite democratic classes
before  the  experiment.  Although  the
experimental  group’s  democratic
attitudes  seem  to  have  changed  towards
being  more  positive  by  the  end  of  the
semester,  this  change  does  not  seem  to
be  great.  This  may  be  natural,  however,
since the critical reading comprehension
course  seems  to  have  been  the  only
critical  course  they  had  ever  taken.  The
results,  nevertheless,  seem  to  be

encouraging  enough  for  including  more
critical courses in the curriculum.
       The  main  outcome  of  empowering
students,  however,  is  illustrated  more  in
the  “good  feeling”  attitude  reported  by
the  students  when  they  experience
freedom  of  choice,  than  in  the  data
quantification and list of tables presented
above.  Students'  attitudes  towards  the
critical  reading  comprehension  course
will  be  discussed  in  terms  of  the
following themes emerging from a semi-structured interview  with the students in
the  experimental  group.  The  themes
were  entitled  based  on  Freire’  (1972)
principles as "teachers as transformative
intellectuals",  "problem-posing
education",  "conscientization",  and
"dialogical  method".  The  following
discussion, therefore, would help answer
the  fifth  research  question,  i.e.  “What is
the  learners’  attitude  towards  the
critical  reading  comprehension
course?”,  while  they  would  also  shed
light on the third and fourth questions as
      1.  Teachers  as  transformative
       "Transformative  intellectual"
(Giroux,  1988)  is  a  new  identity
assumed  for  critical  teachers  who  strive
to  combine  "reflection"  and  "action"  in
order  to  empower  students  to  become
thoughtful  and  active  citizens  (Giroux,
1988, cited in Izadinia, 2009). Therefore,
the  teacher  is  no  longer  the  only  source
of knowledge who tries to transfer to the
students what is supposed to be the right
answer.  The  effect  of  having  a
"transformative  intellectual"  in  our
critical  classroom  was  twofold:  on  the
one  hand,  as  the  results  of  the  attitude
questionnaire also indicated, this kind of
teacher  proved  to  be  successful  in
changing  the  students’  democratic
attitudes  towards  being  positive.  On  the
other  hand,  however,  some  students  felt
uncomfortable,  especially  at  the
beginning  of  the  semester,  experiencing
a  new  role  for  their  teacher  and  also  for
themselves.  As  Fobes  and  Kaufman
(2008)  also  maintain,  "The  main
challenge  we  face  is  re-socializing
students  to  accept"  the  new  "learning
experiences" such as "discovering and/or
recovering  their  own  voices,  asking
questions,  and  tolerating  ambiguity  and
uncertainty"  (p.  27).  Of  course,  this
problem  (if  it  is  called  a  problem)  was
observed  only  at  the  beginning  sessions
of the course, and students adapted to the
new  situation  and  accepted  their
teachers'  new  role  quickly.  As  it  was
expected, the teacher's new role not only
did not take the authority of the teacher,
but created more respect for her from the
part of the students.
      2&3.  Problem-posing  education  and
       Problem-posing  practices  and  the
emerging  conscientization,  or  the  ability
to  acquire  critical  perception  of  the
interaction  of  phenomena,  which  was
mostly  achieved  through  teaching  the
critical  thinking  strategies  suggested  by
Loewen (1995) (cited in Romanowsky &
Nasser,  2012,  p.131)  seemed  to  be
appreciated by the learners in the critical
classroom,  as  they  expressed  their
satisfaction  by  statements  such  as
"before I took this course, I didn’t know
how  to  look  for  the  real  idea  behind  a
text",  and  expressions  of  gratitude  for
"being  able  to  think  in  a  new  way"  and
"becoming a new person".  
       4. Dialogical method

The dialogic method seemed strange
to some of the students in the early days,
since,  as  they  reported  later,  they
preferred the traditional method of being
told  everything,  obligatory  note  taking,
reiteration of facts, etc, than engaging in
dialogues  with  the  teacher  about
different  aspects  of  teaching,  because
this  new  practice  contradicted  their
previous  classroom  experiences.  Some
of the students later mentioned that they
constantly  compared  their  new  teacher
with  the  previous  ones  and  concluded
that "this one is less experienced". Some
even  reported  that  sometimes  they
couldn’t  bear  what  seemed  to  them  "a
messy  classroom  climate  full  of
hesitations  about  everything"!  Some
students,  however,  found  the  new
experience  of  getting  involved  in
collaborating the course content with the
teacher  "exciting"  and  "bringing  about a
sense  of  difference".  Of  course,  these
comments  were  mostly  related  to  the
beginning  of  the  course,  and  as  the
students  got  more  familiar  with  the
approach  taken  by  the  teacher  and  the
rationale behind it, difficulties gave their
place  to  students'  satisfaction  and
       What  is  of  note,  however,  is  that
although  the  difficulties  were  mostly
resolved by the end of the semester, their
very  existence  warn  us  about  the
survival  of  an  educational  system  in
which  students  have  not  learnt  the  rules
of independency and democracy. On the
one  hand,  they  are  dependent  on  the
teacher  in  all  aspects  of  learning,  and
thus,  some  are  never  able  to  take
responsibility for their own learning. On
the  other  hand,  they  misinterpret
democracy  to  the  point  that  some  try  to
take  advantage  of  the  "democratic
proceedings"  (Thelin,  2005).  As  Thelin
(2005) also suggests, all these may result
from the fact that students have not been
exposed  to  critical  pedagogy  courses,
and  thus  are  not  used  to  critical
pedagogy principles.  
In  this  paper,  we  attempted  at
developing  and  examining  a  critical
language  teaching  course,  which  was
based  on  Richards'  (2001)  proposal  and
Crawford's  (1978)  Critical  Pedagogy
principles.  More  specifically,  we  found,
by  means  of  statistical  and  qualitative
data analyses, that despite some problem
issues  rising  while  practicing  the
principles  of  Critical  Pedagogy,  our
critical  reading  comprehension  course
had  a  positive  effect  on  EFL  learners'
reading  comprehension  ability,
developing a positive democratic attitude
towards their English classroom and also
their motivation towards reading English
materials.  Students'  attitude  towards  the
critical  course  was  also  discussed  in
terms  of  the  following  four  themes
which emerged from the qualitative data
analysis  process:  teachers  as
transformative  intellectuals,  Problem-posing  education,  conscientization,  and
dialogical method.   
       Besides  providing  responses  to  the
five research questions stated above,  the
results of the present study suggested the
applicability  of  the  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  in  Iranian  classrooms  despite
the existence of a “top-down educational
management” (Aliakbari & Allahmoradi,
2012)  in  Iran,  and  what  Safari  and
Pourhashemi  (2012)  describe  as
“fossilized  unequal  power  relationship
between  teachers  and  students”.
Therefore,  although  a  strong  version  of
Critical  Pedagogy  which  embraces  all

aspects  of  the  educational  system  may
not  be  applicable  in  the  present  context,
a  “weaker  version”  (Akbarpour,
forthcoming)  with  the  framework
proposed  in  this  study  can  be  put  into
practice, since the problem seems not to
be  as  devastating  as  it  appears  to  some
researchers  who  have  reported  the
impracticality  of  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  in  Iran.  Safari  and
Pourhashemi  (2012),  for  instance,  claim
"It  seems  to  be  really  unlikely  that
Iranian  English  teachers  who  have  long
been  accustomed  to  possessing  the
absolute  authority  of  traditional  classes
as  the  main  source  of  knowledge  and
information  can  modestly  quit  their
presumed roles at the cost of applying an
anonymous  innovative  approach."  (p.
       Perhaps  some  of  the  opponents  of
the  application  of  Critical  Pedagogy
have  based  their  arguments  not  on
actually examining the practicality of the
principles,  but  rather  on  surveys  on
teachers  who,  as  the  researchers
themselves  argue,  have  not  practiced
critical  pedagogy  principles  yet.
According  to  Hall  (2000),  "Critical
approaches  are  often  perceived  as
abstract  and  impractical  which,  it  is
argued,  causes  a  lack  of  practical  focus.
Therefore,  they  are  too  removed  from
their  historical  context  and  “fail  to
develop a clear articulation for the needs
of their existence and goals” (Ellsworth,
1989:101). Ellsworth maintains that they
are  too  ready  to  criticize,  but  unable  to
offer solutions." (pp. 11-12).  
       Although  Iran,  as  Pishghadam  and
Mirzaee  (2008)  claim,  "has  been
dominated  by  ideas  of  modernism"
rather  than  post-modernism,  this  does
not  mean  that  post-modernism  is  totally
impractical  in  this  context.  The  present
piece  of  research  was  an  attempt  to
indicate  that  Critical  Pedagogy,  as  a
post-modern issue, can be applied in the
present educational context of Iran, since
on  the  one  hand,  the  outcome  of  the
critical course indicated a positive effect
on  the  dependent  variables,  and  on  the
other hand, results of the qualitative data
analysis  illustrated  the  positive  attitude
of  the  learners  towards  the  critical
course.  Accordingly, the most important
theme  of  the  present  paper  may  be  the
applicability of the principles of Critical
Pedagogy in the context of Iran.  
       A  word  of  caution  may  need  to  be
stated  here:  our  students  seem  not  to
have  learnt  the  rules  of  independency
and  democracy,  and  some  misinterpret
democracy  to  the  point  that  they  try  to
take  advantage  of  the  “democratic
proceedings” (Thelin, 2005). As Thelin
(2005)  proposes,  this  may  result  from
the  fact  that  students  have  not  been
exposed  to  critical  pedagogy  courses,
and  thus  are  not  used  to  critical
pedagogy  principles.  Therefore,  the  first
step  in  the  application  of  Critical
Pedagogy  in  our  educational  context
may  be  to  apply  its  weak  versions  (see
above)  to  small  communities  such  as
classrooms  where  Critical  Pedagogy
principles  are  put  into  practice  by  the
teachers,  so  that  the  students  find  the
opportunity  to  get  accustomed  to  the
principles  of  independence.  In  this  way,
one  can  hope  that  in  near  future,  the
whole  educational  system  can  benefit
from the principles of Critical Pedagogy.
The  first  step,  therefore,  may  concern
teacher educators whose responsibility is
to familiarize the teachers with the basic

principles  of  Critical  Pedagogy  and  the
ways for their application in teaching.
       Although  in  the  present  work  our
proposed  framework  was  employed  in  a
reading  comprehension  course,  it  does
not  mean  that  it  cannot  be  applied  to
other  language  teaching  courses.  This
work  may  be  worth  replicating  in
different  educational  contexts,  with
different  participants,  and  regarding
different  language  skills.  We  seek  other
researchers'  company  in  this  long
journey  and  struggle  for  a  better
educational system.

Abdelrahim,  A.  T.  (2007).  The
relationship  between  gender  and
experience  in  teachers’
awareness  of  critical  pedagogy.
(Unpublished  thesis).  Tarbiat
Modares  University,  Tehran,
Abednia,  A.  (2010).  Investigating
conflict  between  the  critical
nature of transformative language
teacher  development  and  student
teachers’ traditional  background.
Iranian  EFL  Journal,  6  (2),  50-74.
Aghagolzadeh,  F.  &  Davari,  H.  (2014).
Iranian  critical  ELT:  a  belated
but  growing  intellectual  shift  in
Iranian ELT community. Journal
for  Critical  Education  Policy
Studies, 12(1), 391-410.
Akbarpour,  L.  (forthcoming).  Towards
developing  a  model  of  critical
pedagogy  for  English  language
teaching  practice  in  the  Iranian
context.  Unpublished  doctorial
dissertation, Shiraz University.
Aliakbari, M. & Allahmoradi, N. (2012).
On  Iranian  school  teachers'
perceptions  of  the  principles  of
critical  pedagogy.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
4(1), 154-171.
Auerbach,  E.  (1992).    Making  meaning,
making  change:  participatory
curriculum development for adult
ESL literacy. McHenry, IL: Delta
Systems, Inc.
Barrett,  C.  (2013).  (Re)Imagining
TESOL  through  critical  hip  hop
literacy.  International  Journal  of
Critical  Pedagogy,  4(3),  100-115.
Bickel,  C.  (2006).  Cultivating  orchids:
promoting  democracy  in  the
classroom.  In  P.  Kaufman  (Ed.),
Critical  Pedagogy  in  the
Classroom  (pp.  93-107).
Washington,  DC:  American
Sociological Association.
Bishop,  E.  (2010).  An  ethic  of
engagement:  qualitative  learning
in  the  21st  century.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
3(2), 47-58.
Breuing,  M.  (2011).  Problematizing
Critical  Pedagogy.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
3(3), 2-23.
Chomsky,  N.  &  Raubichaud,  A.  (2014).
Standardized testing as an assault
on  humanism  and  critical
thinking  in  education.  Radical
Pedagogy, 11(1).

Cohen,  L.,  Manion,  L.,  &  Morrison,  K.
(2007).  Research  methods  in
education. New York: Routledge.  
Conagarajah,  A.  S.  (2005).  Critical
pedagogy  in  L2  learning  and
teaching.  In  E.  Hinkel  (Ed),
Handbook  of  research  in  second
language  teaching  and  research,
(pp.  931-949).  Mahwah,  NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum.  
Crawford,  L.M.  (1978).  Paulo  Freire's
philosophy:  derivation  of
curricular  principles  and  their
application  to  second  language
design.  Unpublished  doctoral
dissertation,  University  of
Davari, H.,  Iranmehr, A. & Erfani, S.M.
(2012).  A  survey  on  the  Iranian
ELT  community's  attitudes  to
critical  pedagogy.  English
Language  Teaching,  5(2),  101-111.
Dewey,  J.  (1916).  Democracy  and
education: an introduction to the
philosophy  of  education.
Macmillan: Harvard.
Durst, R.K. (2006). Can we be critical of
critical  pedagogy?  Collage
Composition  and
Communication, 58(1), 110-114.  
             Retrieved  December,  15,  2014,
Ekman  (2006).  Democratic  ideals  and
practices;  Utopian  dreams  or
what?  School  effects  on  political
attitudes  among  upper  secondary
school students in Sweden.
Ellsworth,  E.  (1989).  Why  doesn't  this
feel  empowering?  Working
through  the  repressive  myths  of
Critical  Pedagogy.  Harvard
Educational  Review,  59(3),  297-324.  
Esmaili,  M.R.  &  Barjesteh,  H.  (2013).
The  relationship  between  Iranian
EFL  teachers'  awareness  of
critical  pedagogy  and  their
professional  success.  Indian
Journal  of  Fundamental  and
Applied  Life  Sciences,  3(2),  259-267.  
Fobes  &  Kaufman  (2008).  Critical
pedagogy  in  the  sociology
classroom:  Challenges  and
Concerns.  Teaching  Sociology,
36, 26-33.  
Freire,  P.  (1972).  Pedagogy  of  the
oppressed.  New  York:  Penguin
Freire,  P.  (1998).  Pedagogy  of  freedom.
Ethics,  democracy,  and  civic
courage. Maryland: Rowman and
Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Friere,  P.  (2000).  Pedagogy  of  the
oppressed.  New  York:
Giroux,  H.  A.  (1988).  Teachers  as
intellectuals:  Towards  a  critical
pedagogy  of  learning.  South
Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.
Giroux,  H.  (1997).  Pedagogy  and  the
politics  of  hope:  Theory,  culture,
and  schooling.  Boulder,  CO:
Westview Press.

Guilar, J.D. (2006). Intersubjectivity and
dialogic  instruction.  Radical
Pedagogy, 8(1).
Hall,  G.  (2000).  Local  approaches  to
Critical  Pedagogy:  an
investigation  into  the  dilemmas
raised  by  critical  approaches  to
ELT.  CRILE  Publications,
Linguistics  Department,
Lancaster University.
Haugue,  C.  (2011).    Teaching  youth
media  through  international
exchange.  International  Journal
of  Critical  Pedagogy,  3(3),  113-134.  
Hussein,  A.  (2012).  Freirian  and
Postcolonial  Perspectives  on  e-Learning  Development:  A  Case
Study of Staff Development in an
African  University.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
4(1), 135-153.
Izadinia,  M.  (2009).  Critical  pedagogy:
an  introduction.  In  P.  Wachob
(Ed.),  Power  in  the  EFL
classroom:  critical  pedagogy  in
the  Middle  East  (pp.  7-16).
Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
Khatib,  M.  &  Fathi,  J.  (2014).  The
investigation  of  the  perspectives
of  Iranian  EFL  domain  experts
on  post-method  pedagogy:  a
Delphi technique. The Journal of
Teaching  Language  Skills,  6(3),
Kubow,  P.K.  &  Kinney,  M.B.  (2000).
Fostering  democracy  in  middle
school  classrooms:  Insights  from
a  democratic  institute  in
Hungary.  The  Social  Studies,
91(6), 970-977.
Landeta,  J.  (2006).  Current  validity  of
the  Delphi  method  in  social
sciences.  Technological
Forecasting  and  Social  Change,
73, 467–482.
Loewen,  J.  W.  (1995).  Lies  my  teacher
told  me:  Everything  your
American  history  textbook  got
wrong.  New  York:  The  New
Macedo,  D.  (2000).  An  introduction  to
Freire's  Pedagogy  of  the
Oppressed.  New  York:
McKenna,  H.P.  (1994)  The  Delphi
technique:  a  worthwhile
approach  for  nursing?  Journal  of
Advanced  Nursing,  19,  1221–
Meacham, S., Anderson, M.A. & Correa,
C.  (2013).  Coining  phrases  for
dollars: Jay-Z, economic literacy,
and  the  educational  implications
of  hip-hop’s  entrepreneurial
ethos.  International  Journal  of
Critical Pedagogy, 4(3), 69-82.
Moss,  G.  &  Lee,  C.  (2010).  A  critical
analysis  of  philosophies  of
education and INTASC standards
in  teacher  preparation.
International  Journal  of  Critical
Pedagogy, 3(2), 36-46.
Naderi  Anari  &  Zamanian  (2014).
Relationship  between  critical
pedagogical  attitudes  and
effectiveness  among  high  school
English  teachers.  International

Journal  of  Language  Learning
and  Applied  Linguistics  World,
6(3), 429-441.
Naiditch,  F.  (2009).  Critical  pedagogy
and  the  teaching  of  reading  for
social  action.  Critical  Questions
in Education, 1(2), 94-107.
Osborne,  K.  (1990).  Is  there  a
democratic  socialist  pedagogy?
In  D.  Henley  &  J.  Young  (Eds.),
Canadian perspectives on critical
pedagogy  (pp.  43-73).  Manitoba,
Winnipeg: The Canadian Critical
Pedagogy  Network  with  Social
Education  Researchers  in
Pennycook, A. (1990). Critical pedagogy
and  second  language  education.
System, 18(3), 303-314.
Pishghadam,  R.  &  Mirzaee,  A.  (2008).  
English  language  teaching  in
postmodern  era.  Journal      of
English  Language  Teaching  and
Literature, 2(7), 89-109.  
Pishghadam,  R.  &  Naji  Meidani,  E.
(2012).  A  critical  look  into
critical  pedagogy.  Journal  for
Critical  Education  Policy
Studies, 10(2), 464-484.  
Pishvaei,  V.  &  Kasaian,  S.  A.  (2013).
Design,  Construction,  and
validation  of  a  critical  pedagogy
attitude  questionnaire  in  Iran.
European  Online  Journal  of
Natural  and  Social  Sciences,
2(2), 59-74.
Puigvert,  L.  (2008).  Breaking  the
silence:  the  struggle  against
gender  violence  in  universities.
International  Journal  of  Critical
Pedagogy,1(1), 1-6.
Romanowski,  M.  H.  &  Nasser,  R.
(2012).  Critical  thinking  and
Qatar’s education  for  a  new  era:
negotiating  possibilities.
International  Journal  of  Critical
Pedagogy, 4(1), 118-134.  
Richards,  J.C.  (1989).  Beyond  training:
approaches  to  teacher  education
in  language  teaching.  A  keynote
address  given  at  a  workshop  on
Second    Language  Teaching
Education,  Macquarie
University, Sydney.  
Richards,  J.  C.  (2001).  Curriculum
development  in  language
teaching.  Cambridge,  UK:
Cambridge University Press.   
Ross, E.W. (2007). Critical Pedagogy. In
S. Mathison & E. W. Ross (Eds.),
Battleground  schools  (pp.  156-161). Greenwood Press: London
Rypstat,  A.  (2002).  Ethos  and  social
action:  reasons  and  methods  for
stressing  praxis  in  the  writing
classroom.  Radical  Pedagogy,
Safari,  P.  &  Pourhashemi,  M.  (2012).
Toward  an  empowering
pedagogy:  is  there  room  for
critical  pedagogy  in  educational
system  of  Iran?  Theory  and
Practice  in  Language  Studies,
2(12), 2548-2555.
Shabani, M. B. & Khorsandi, M. (2014).
An  investigation  into  the  role  of
Iranian  EFL  teachers'  critical
pedagogical  views  in  their

educational  success.  Journal  of
Language  Teaching  and
Research, 5(1), 144-153.
Schultz, B. D., Mcsurley, J. & Salguero,
M.  (2013).  Teaching  in  the
cracks:  student  engagement
through  social  action  curriculum
projects. International Journal of
Critical Pedagogy, 4(2), 53-68.
Simmons,  R.,  Carpenter,  R.,  Ricks,  J.,
Walker,  D.,  Parks,  M.  &  Davis,
M.  (2013).  African  American
male  teachers  and  African
American  students.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
4(2), 69-86.
Sweet,  S.  (1998).  Practicing  radical
pedagogy:  Balancing  ideals  with
institutional  constraints.
Teaching Sociology, 26, 100-111.
Thelin,  W.  H.  (2005).  Understanding
problems  in  critical  classrooms.
College  Composition  and
Communication,  57(1),  114-141.
Retrieved July, 1, 2014, from:
Thomson-Bunn,  H.  (2014).  Are  they
empowered  yet?  Opening  up
definitions  of  critical  pedagogy.
Composition Forum, 29.
Walker,  A.M.  &  Selfe,  J.  (1996).  The
Delphi  method:  a  useful  tool  for
the  allied  health  researcher.
British  Journal  of  Therapy  and
Rehabilitation , 3(12), 677–681.
Waterman,  S.  (2007).  The  democratic
differentiated  classroom.
Larchmont,  NY:  Eye  on
Williams,  A.  D.  (2009).  The  critical
cultural  cypher:  remaking  Paulo
Freire’s cultural circles using hip
hop  Culture.  International
Journal  of  Critical  Pedagogy,
2(1), 1-29.