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C1 culture the arts

What place does literature have in the ELT classroom in an ecological emergency?

Extracts from our favourite novels, poems or plays can really bring a language class to live. Like songs, their carefully crafted language, depth and authenticity appeal to students and provide rich learning input. At the same time, we may shy away from using literature, worrying whether we are able to teach it or whether it meets students needs. Despite this there is a strong case for using literature in the ELT class. This article on TeachingEnglish goes into great depth while being highly readable.

What about literature as a teaching tool for an environmentally-concerned language teacher? This is the question I asked myself when I turned to the book that is credited with starting the environmental movement: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. What a stunning first chapter! The focus of the environmental movement has changed over the years, however this book is as relevant as ever, and I was so gripped by it I decided there must be a way to use it in the language class.

I have now created the lesson, and I’m very happy to share it with you (in exchange for your email address!) In this lesson plan students engage with the first chapter of the book. The lesson uses the text-based approach as a way to maximise student engagement with the it while avoiding a focus on right/wrong text-comprehension activities. This is intended to make reading more like how we read in our first language. You can read a fantastic summary of the text-based approach here if you’d like to know more.

Access the lesson materials here:

Does this lesson follow an approach you would use to exploit literature in your language class? What literary work do you think is most relevant in the climate emergency for the language classroom?

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