Each year, at 8:30 PM on March’s last Saturday, earth-conscious people worldwide join during #EarthHour [https://www.earthhour.org/] to raise awareness about the dire problems facing our blue-marbled planet. The movement is typically celebrated by switching off your lights for an hour as a symbol of your support. This year, #EarthHour will also be sharing a virtual spotlight video on the planet’s crisis with the goal of it being reshared and becoming the “most-watched video in the world”.
Similarly, Earth Day [https://www.earthday.org/history/], celebrated annually on April 22nd, encourages people to demonstrate support for protecting the environment, whether with individual green acts, civilly or in the community. Both events are worthy causes to be celebrated in your TEFL classroom, whether online or overseas.
In leading up to these global events, incorporate Earth themes into your EFL and ESL lessons with these fun reading, writing, listening and speaking activities, and in so doing, inspire your students to “speak up for nature” [https://www.earthhour.org/] and have a sustainable future.
Earth Education Read Alouds
Educating yourself and your ESL and EFL students about climate change and nature loss is the first step towards change. There are many books to read aloud with students on this very theme, which can be followed by comprehension questions and class discussions on the figurative language, how it applies to the students’ lives, and what changes they can make for the sake of the planet. Check out the following book suggestions online or find them in a library or bookstore, and happy reading:
- What a Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet by Jess French [https://www.amazon.com/What-Waste-Recycling-Protecting-Planet/dp/1465481419]
- Greta and the Giants: inspired by Greta Thunberg’s stand to save the world by Zoë Tucker [https://www.amazon.com/Greta-Giants-inspired-Thunbergs-stand/dp/0711253773]
- Here We Are: Notes for Living on Plant Earth by Oliver Jeffers [https://www.amazon.com/Here-We-Are-Living-Planet/dp/0399167897]
- The Fog by Kyo Maclear [https://www.amazon.com/Fog-Kyo-Maclear/dp/1770494928]
- The Problem of the Hot World by Pam Bonsper [https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Hot-World-Pam-Bonsper/dp/1514648547]
Recycle Word Race
This game is for the physical classroom after vocabulary has been taught in the study phase. TESOL teacher preparation: Collect and clean your recyclable trash and stick/write target words on each item prior to bringing the bag of trash to class. Assure your students the items are sanitary before dividing them into teams, with one volunteer from each team to be the first to play scatters the trash on the floor and call out the target word. The two students have to sift through the trash until the first one who finds the word earns a point for their team. Students take turns each round until the target words are complete. Variations for older learners: When the student finds the word, they have to use it correctly in a sentence or provide a definition or synonym. Students will love this unique dose of competition, revising and learning while having fun with realia … even if it is trash.
Earthy Facts or Eyebrow-raising Opinions?
Learning to tell the difference between fact and opinion in English is an essential skill, and there are many creative ways to teach this!
- Game 1: Use this free template to create an “I Have, Who Has” game about environmental issues. Deal a card out to each student, who will then take turns reading their card. The class has to decide whether the statement is a fact or opinion. For older students, get creative by making fact and matching opinion cards about environmental issues.
- Game 2: Use these [https://games4esl.com/printables/board-game-templates/] free printable board game templates or follow this [https://slidesmania.com/digital-board-game-an-interactive-template-for-google-slides/] online tutorial for making a digital board game in Google Slides to create your own fact or opinion board game with accompanying fact and opinion cards, game pieces and an answer key card. Game rules: Students answer a card correctly (i.e. determining whether its a fact or opinion) before rolling the dice to move.
- Game 3: Using the same board game template and their vocabulary words, students take turns rolling the dice. If they land on a fact square, they will turn over a card and provide a fact for that word. For example, if the word is dog, their fact could be “A dark barks”. If they land on an opinion square, they give an opinion about the target word. These board game variations can be played as an entire class or smaller groups, depending on your number of students.
- Teaching online? Adapt one of this digital Jeopardy game [https://jeopardylabs.com/] to facts and opinions about various earthy categories.
Earth Saving Superheroes
Inspire your students with Earth Heroes: 20 Inspiring Stories of People Saving our Planet by Dyu Lily [https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Heroes-Twenty-Inspiring-Stories/dp/1788008529]. After learning about real-hero heroes, give students a playful writing prompt activity where they create their own earth-saving superheroes, complete with a special name and superpower. To practice English speaking, give students time to present their superheroes to one another.
No matter the holiday, at iTTi South Africa, we believe that as a TESOL teacher, you can always use these special themes to inject some fun and awareness in the online or abroad English classroom. Contact us to join our TESOL courses [https://www.ittisouthafrica.com/course-information] and qualify with your internationally accredited TESOL certificate. Share your influence for good on the world with English teaching!