climate change food

There’s a Monster in the Kitchen!

Recently the organisation where I work replaced coursebooks with set lessons. Not only that, but students now choose the lesson they attend based on factors such as the lesson outcomes. Help! I’m no longer able to use the hour-long lessons I’ve spent years compiling.

This is actually an opportunity. Many among us now realise that sustainability has to be embedded in every other topic – food, travel, the future – you name it. Is the way forward to use 5 to 10-minute activities that focus on the environmental aspects of other topics on a regular basis rather than teach the termly environment lesson when the unit on the topic turns up in the coursebook? I think so.

That is why I have put together this activity as an example of how you could spend a short time in class focussing on the environmental aspect of food when the topic of a set lesson is food.

Check it out here:

Do you have a set lesson topic that you have to adhere to? If so would this enable you still to have a sustainability twist to your classes while enabling you to meet the stated class aims? Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Sustainability when you have set lesson content

Many of us don’t have the freedom to choose what we cover in a lesson. What can you do to bring a sustainability twist to every lesson even when you have to operate within what may seem like the tramlines of set lesson outcomes?

There are many possibilities. Here is one I learnt in the InnovateELT conference in a session by Dan Barber which focusses on learners applying critical thinking skills to any text. I’ve embellished this with support from images to steer learners in the direction of the environmental considerations of any text on any topic.

Find out how this works for me and could work for you and click below to access the article.

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?

Did you enjoy this? Find out about ELTsustainable membership and find out about the great things it can do for you. Click below to find out more.