Teaching language also teaches values and shapes attitudes, making English language teaching fundamental to climate and environmental action.
Education is a powerful tool. We can use our classrooms as safe spaces to explore issues about the world. Teachers can engage their students with local issues that effect their lives and help equip students with the language and skills they need to face the climate and ecological crises.
And you don’t need to be an climate expert to inspire curiosity and encourage critical thinking. We can raise environmental awareness and positively influence behaviour among students, who will likely go on to influence their family and friends.
There is currently a mismatch between student experience and most course materials. While young people are engaged with climate activism through social media and understand the interconnection of climate with other issues, such as social and racial justice, textbooks generally isolate the environment to one brief chapter.
✓ Sustainability week for students with experiential events and guest speakers ✓ Environmental champions in your school – staff and students ✓ Invite local green groups into your school to speak to staff and students ✓ Teach English through nature projects
Just teaching about environmental issues will not make our students – particularly children – care for the environment. Taught badly it could actually have the opposite effect. What will make our students care is a deepened connection with nature. So part of our responsibility as ELT professionals is to find ways of deepening that connection.