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.

Jun 212013


BC Innovations book coverThis is another new Britisch Council publication to which I contributed. My chapter (ch. 4, p. 87) is on Technology-integrated English for Specific Purposes lessons: real-life language, tasks, and tools for professionals.


There are many books on technology and education including books that cater to language learning and teaching. What is special about this publication is that it has chapters on primary, secondary and adult education (including ESP, EAP, and assessment). Also, all chapters include several case studies of technology used in real context by teachers around the world. In all three of the cases in my chapter on technology in ESP, the teachers use technology (such as Skype, web-conferencing tools, or digital cameras) to teach English which the students also use or will use in their professions:


  • Cornelia Kreis-Meyer teaches a German politician how to participate in interviews conducted in English via Skype.
  • Mercedes Viola teaches Uruguayan business people how to give presentations online in virtual conference rooms.
  • Aiden Yeh, teaches Taiwanese university students advertising English by having them create commercials using a whole range of hardware (digital cameras, computers) and software or web 2.0 tools (movie editor, wikis, blogs, etc.).


The main headings in my chapter are:


  • What is ESP?
  • A brief history of technology use in ESP
  • Benefits of technology use in ESP 
  • Technologies for ESP 
  • The internet: a source for authentic materials 
  • Learner autonomy (and the Internet)
  • A place for authentic communication (the Internet)
  • Mobile learning
  • Blended learning – integrating technology 


For a brief overview of technology/CALL (computer-aided language learning), read the Introduction by Garry Motteram. In chapter 7, Gary Motteram draws conclusions from the previous chapters based on a socio-cultural view of learning and he introduces the term “technical cultural artefacts” for digital tools that are repurposed by users in ways that the designers did not intend (such as SMS, the word processor, or Skype), and how this is related to how teachers and students use technology for language learning purposes.

You can watch here the recording of a short presentation of the book by Gary Motteram at the official publication launch.

The book can be downloaded as e-book (PDF) for free here or a print version can be bought here.