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#BeatPlasticPollution articles reduce, reuse, recycle: cutting down waste waste

A picture is worth a thousand words

‘My syllabus is so full already’ or ‘I have so much to get through I don’t have time to teach a whole lesson about environmental issues’ are reasons I have often heard for teachers not feeling able to bring sustainability into their classes. I can relate to this as the organisation I work in has courses where every lesson topic is pre-arranged.

I strongly believe there are ways round this. As I have written about previously, one of them is to bring a green twist to every lesson no matter the topic.

Activities based around pictures are a fantastic way to do this. A picture can be the source of so much discussion, communication, interaction and learning. It also has the advantage of working in both high and low context environments in terms of the tech teachers have in their classroom. It can be displayed on a projector or a piece of paper, or even just a phone.

This lesson activity is an example of how a picture can bring that global issues focus to a lesson on a set topic. The idea came about through a picture created by Phubes, a Thai street artist, shared on ELT Footprint by a teacher called Clyde Fowle, and then grew into a lesson idea through a collaboration between Clyde and myself. What’s more, there are two versions of the material. One is by me for if you have 10 minutes or less. The other is by Clyde if you have more time, and I have to say, I really want to use his version!


Inspire your students to positively engage with environmental issues and sustainability on their language learning journey.

Join ELTsustainable membership and receive a newletter with articles, lesson ideas and updates.

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articles

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.

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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?


Inspire your students to positively engage with environmental issues and sustainability on their language learning journey.

Join ELTsustainable membership and receive a newletter with articles, lesson ideas and updates.