ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Greening an English Program – Activities

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We created a variety of extracurricular activities designed to raise students’ awareness of environmental issues. I discuss these activities in podcast #6. For a more detailed discussion of the drama and poetry activities, please see this paper (references).

Environmental Drama – Students spent four days adapting and performing a play based on the book Maui-Maui by Stephen Cosgrove. Students began by reading the book, and summarizing the story in their own words. Next, students wrote a script based on the story. They assigned roles, practiced their lines and made props and costumes. One group of students decided to focus on pronunciation, and spent time going over their intonation. A performance was given during the end-of-term celebration.For a more detailed explanation of this activity, please see page 8 of this paper (references).

Global Issues and Poetry – Students began by reading six poems with environmental or global issues themes. In addition to having relevant themes, these poems have elements that enable them to serve as models for student poetry. After reading the poems aloud, students chose one and discussed it (using questions provided in the handout) in a small group. Next, they wrote their own poem using the poem they had chosen as a model. During both the discussion and the writing, the teacher assisted students by answered questions. Finally, volunteers read their poems aloud to the class.Two good books for global issues oriented poems are Rethinking Globalization and Reading, Writing, and Rising Up, both of which are published by Rethinking Schools. For a more detailed explanation of this activity, please see page 5 of this paper (references).

Environmental Movie – Students watched and discussed the film Princess Mononoke over two days. Students were given a worksheet tracking their opinions of different characters. They filled it out while watching the movie, and questions were discussed in groups after key scenes in the film.

Environmental Art – This activity did not actually run, but here is how it would work. First, students would be shown an environmentally-themed piece of artwork and the teacher would lead them through an interpretation of it. Then students would look at a variety of eco-themed art and pick one to work on in a group. In groups, they would discuss what they liked about the picture, the issue it referred to, and what the artist was attempting to express about the issue. They could also discuss the pictures from an artistic point of view, talking about composition, technique, medium and so on. Students would spend the remaining time creating environmentally-themed artwork of their own. They would present their artwork at the end of the class, and then find a place in the school to hang it.

Here are a few samples:

Air Pollution



Global Issues Reading and Discussion – Students read articles and discussed them in small groups. Also, some of the articles had writing exercises or worksheets associated with them. Most of the materials that we used in this activity came from textbooks so, unfortunately, I’m not able to put them online.Hike – Students were taken on a 3 hour hike and learned a few things about local plants.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Urbán Ágnes // Apr 11, 2009 at 2:10 am

    I am really happy I have found this site. I have been teaching Cutting Edge Advanced to a group of Hungarian teenagers at school. Module 1 is on Globalisation. I found your ideas a treasure chest as far as supplementary material/activities are concerned! Thank you!

  • 2 Dave // Apr 12, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve found some of these activities useful. If you have time, I’d love to hear about how they went.

    Take care!

  • 3 ali // Apr 9, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Dear Dave,
    Thank u for nice materials on envi. issues. I’m manager of an english institute in iran. It has just occurred to me that it’d be more fruitful to get our english lrs focus on envir issues in the process of learning english. I’m now looking for audio n video materials n activities to this end. So I’ll be grateful if u help me on this

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