Nov 272019
 

It is useful to follow some principles when writing environment lessons, which can then also be used as criteria when evaluating lessons.

This is going to be a work in progress as I assume my thinking will evolve and I’ll also be reading about principles other teachers or materials writers have come up with. There’ll certainly be an overlap with material writing principles in general, but the focus is on environment-themed language lessons.

Because he made us think about our own principles/tips, I’d like to start with Owan Llewellyn seven tips, which you can read about in more detail on his website ELTsustainable with examples from his lessons:

  • Focus on the ‘now’
  • Take a fresh perspective
  • Localise and Personalise
  • Focus on people
  • Positive and Empowering
  • What’s the language point
  • Make it interactive

These are all great and I’d include them in my principles, certainly for general English classes. In the ESP/EAP context, the lessons might not always need to have a focus on ‘now’, though, and might not (always) focus on people, depending on the particular aim of the lesson. Although being positive and empowering is great, some ESP/EAP lessons might focus on graver situations and be based on understanding and communicating research, data, etc. Nonetheless, these lessons can lead to a positive outcome or action, which can be empowering.

So, here are the principles I’d add:

  • Integrated into the syllabus and not just an odd lesson on an odd topic.
  • Integrated-skills lessons (e.g. speaking, listening, reading, writing, critical thinking, media literacy, etc.)
  • Relevant, not only should the environmental topic be relevant to the learners (which would be the principle Personalise) but also the tasks and skills practised in the lesson (general English learners will need to learn different skills from academic English learners, e.g. having an informal chat vs a seminar discussion).
  • Go beyond the lesson. What have I learned? should be about the language points but also about the topic or environmental issue.
  • Lead to action. What will/can I do about this? What could/should/will my next step be? How can I make others aware of this issue? etc.

If you agree or disagree with the principles here, have further ideas or want to point out to me existing lists of principles on other websites, blogs, books, etc., I’d be very happy to read your comments below.

Nov 272019
 

I’m currently participating in the course Language Teaching for the Planet on using environmental topics in English language lessons created by Owain Llewellyn, who has been sharing his environment-themed lessons on his blog ELT Sustainable since 2012. It’s a very manageable course as it only lasts 15 days and doesn’t take more than two—three hours per week, unless one feels the need to engage more in the tasks and discussions…

If you’re thinking of ‘bringing in topics of sustainability to your teaching‘ and would like to discuss ideas with like-minded colleagues and get feedback, I’d recommend it. It is helping me think through some of my ideas and has added to the motivation for me to finally start writing on this topic here on my blog.

The course will run again in January.

Update

And here’s my certificate!