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Climate Action in Language Education lesson plans

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Are you a language teacher or a teacher trainer? Do you want to bring environmental issues and the fight against the climate crisis into your classroom? See how you can do this with twelve new lesson plans.

This series of twelve lesson plans provides teachers with step-by-step guidance and resources. They are an ideal starting point to help to address issues of sustainability in the classroom.

About the lesson plans

The twelve lessons cover a range of levels and age groups, and each explores a different topic, from sports to storms and from families to fashion. They are designed with flexibility in mind, can be integrated within existing curricula and are available in two versions, for classroom-based lessons and online teaching.

About the writers

The writers of these lesson plans, Katherine Bilsborough, Christopher Graham and Daniel Barber, are three of the founding members of ELT Footprint, a global community of more than 3,500 teachers, trainers, writers and publishers dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of their place of work, the ELT profession. 

Lesson plans for primary learners

A green classroom

Age/level: Suitable for use with primary learners aged 6-8 years at elementary level (CEFR A1) and above

This lesson focuses on green classrooms, encouraging learners to think about ways in which they can make their classroom greener. By teaching primary children more about this topic, we can help them to develop the vocabulary they need to take part in important dialogues around sustainability in the future and help them understand that they can do their bit to make their world greener.

Use this lesson in your face-to-face or online teaching

The 5 R's of sustainability

Age/level: Suitable for use with primary learners aged 9-11 years at pre-intermediate level (CEFR A2) and above

Children often learn about ‘the three Rs’ at school: reduce, reuse, recycle. But in recent years, more sustainability-related Rs have appeared. By teaching children more about this topic, we can help them to develop the vocabulary they need to take part in important dialogues around sustainability in the future and help them understand that there are many things we can do to help the planet.

Available soon

A new logo for the World Wildlife Fund

Age/level: Suitable for use with primary learners aged 9-11 years at pre-intermediate level (CEFR A2) and above

This lesson is part of a series of engaging lessons about the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. It explores different topics connected to the crisis. In this lesson, learners will reflect on the importance of all animals, and look at how big, cute animals are over-represented in wildlife conservation efforts. They will read about five more unusual, endangered animals and choose one to replace the giant panda as the symbol of worldwide conservation.

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Lesson plans for secondary learners

Sports in (climate) crisis

Age/level: Suitable for use with older teenagers at advanced level (CEFR C1) and above

In this lesson, learners will learn about the impact of major sports events on the living planet and the impact of global heating on sports, and explore possible solutions and compromises that the world of sport might need to take to lessen its impact. It would be a suitable lesson to supplement a unit in the coursebook on sport, or at the time of a major sports event.

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Fast fashion

Age/level: Suitable for use with younger teenagers aged 12–15 at pre-intermediate level (CEFR A2) and above

This lesson focuses on fast fashion, presenting key data in the form of an infographic. By teaching teenagers more about this topic, we can help them to develop the vocabulary they need to take part in important dialogues around sustainability in the future and help them understand that there are alternatives to fast fashion. The lesson begins with a warmer to introduce the topic. This is followed by a matching word–definition task, with keywords that appear in the infographic. Learners then have an opportunity to practise saying big numbers and statistics before they complete the infographic and discuss the information, including thinking of ways they can change their habits in the future. The lesson finishes with a brainstorming activity in which learners find and present ideas for upcycling a T-shirt.

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Upcycling

Age/level: Suitable for use with older teenagers at intermediate level (CEFR B1) and above

This lesson focuses on upcycling, encouraging learners to think about ways in which they can upcycle common objects. By teaching teenagers more about this topic, we can help them to develop the vocabulary they need to take part in important dialogues around sustainability in the future and help them understand that they can do their bit to make their world greener. The lesson begins with a warmer to introduce the topic. This is followed by a crossword with key ‘green’ vocabulary and a text analysis activity to model language they need for the last activity of the lesson. Learners play an upcycling speaking game, where they start thinking creatively about the possibilities that upcycling offers. In the final part of the lesson, learners work in pairs or small groups to plan, prepare, research and present their ideas for an upcycling project.  

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Buy. Use. Toss

Age/level: Suitable for use with lower secondary learners at intermediate level (CEFR B1) and above

This lesson is part of the Climate Action in Language Teaching series of engaging lessons about the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. It explores different topics connected to the crisis. Learners will think about what happens to the things we throw away. They categorise some rubbish into ‘necessary’ and ‘luxury’ products then answer questions about the last plastic item they threw away. They read the ‘autobiography’ of a plastic bottle and write their own story in the same style. Finally, they discuss the extent to which other people’s waste is their responsibility and the responsibility of all, and agree on practical ways to reduce plastic waste in the world at three levels: personal, local and national/ corporate.

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Family footprint

Age/level: Suitable for use with older teenagers at upper-intermediate level (CEFR B2) and above

The climate emergency begins at home, and self-awareness of the impact of home life on the environment is very important. In this lesson, learners will develop their language and 21st-century skills in critical thinking and reaching agreement and compromise in discussions. They will then implement a questionnaire with some sensitive questions about home life and environmental issues.

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Storm coming!

Age/level: Suitable for use with younger teenage learners of English at upper-intermediate level (CEFR B2) and above

In this lesson, learners will learn extreme weather vocabulary and read and listen to news reports about weather events. They then collaborate in groups and role play an emergency meeting to save their town. This lesson would be suitable as a supplement to a unit on weather, geography or the environment, after a recent extreme weather event, or near World Meteorological Day on 23 March.

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Lesson plans for adult learners

Water for all

Age/level: Suitable for use with adult learners of English at intermediate level (CEFR B1) and above

There is a global water crisis. In this lesson, the learners will use and develop their reading skills to gain a bigger understanding of the crisis, its causes and some possible solutions. They will go on to use some 21st-century skills such as collaboration and creativity to make some campaigning posters to create a greater awareness of the problem in their local communities.

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Farming and the environment

Age/level: Suitable for use with adult learners of English at upper-intermediate level (CEFR B2) and above

This lesson looks at how farming can damage the environment, but also how climate change can make farming difficult. Students will be discussing farming and the environment from different perspectives, and some groups will present their ideas to the whole class.

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21st century jobs

Age/level: Suitable for use with adult learners of English at advanced level (CEFR C1) and above

This lesson will encourage learners to discuss the future of work and the environmental impact that the workplace can and could have. They will consider both the types of jobs that we can expect to develop in the 21st century and the nature and characteristics of the jobs. The final task will be to make a list of ideas for the future of work in the light of the climate crisis and global inequality.

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