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.

articles transport

Where’s that video I saw the other day? I need it for my lesson.

Do you ever spend ages looking for the right picture, video or text for your lesson? I can only imagine the hours in my teaching career I’ve devoted to this!

Other times, seemingly out of nowhere, the right text, video or picture comes, and creating a lesson around it is a smooth, enjoyable process.

One thing I’ve learnt is to be always on the lookout for pictures, videos and texts that can later be used for teaching. When I find them I save them in my profile on, which is a bit like an online ‘favourites’ toolbar, and it allows me to tag the site. In this case I tag it as ‘make a lesson with this’. That way, whenever I go back to the tag I have all the sites, videos and pictures that at some point I though would make a good basis for a lesson. This has had a tremendously positive effect.

An example of how I’ve used this is when my brother sent me a fantastic video by WhatsApp, I saved it with that tag, and came back later and built a lesson around it.

At first sight the video appears to be a car advert, but appearances can be deceptive! What’s more, this advert was banned most unfairly. It’s edgy, visual and had a great twist. Perfect for a lesson on a transport theme and puts the climate crisis centre stage.

Would you like to see the lesson? I’d love to show you so just click below to access it.

What about you? Have you found a method of finding, during and retrieving materials for lesson plans that come up? I’d love to hear your ideas so please post a comment!

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