This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

March 1995 - Issue No. #18 (p.8 - 9)

Teaching About the Environment

by Kip Cates

Tottori University Japan
Since April is the beginning of the school year in Japan and April 22-23 is Earth Day weekend, this is a perfect time for language teachers to inform students about key environmental issues and inspire them to create a more environmentally-friendly world. In the next few pages, we present articles by Susan Stempleski and H. Douglas Brown about environmental language teaching plus ideas and resources for teaching "green issues" in your classes. Please write in if you're doing environmental education in your teaching and let us know of other resources you'd recommend.


For comprehensive background information about environmental issues, take a look at The Global Ecology Handbook or Buzzworm's 1995 Earth Journal. For information in graphic form, get Seager's State of the Earth Atlas with world maps showing rainforest destruction and other issues. Ponting's Green History of the World is a unique world history from an environmental perspective.

For an easy introduction to environmental education, look through Greig's Earthrights or Mason's The Green Classroom - two short concise energizing books. For a more comprehensive overview of the field, Wilke's Environmental Education is a new book out.

For a sampling of environmental teaching activities, get a copy of Stevens and Shea's Creative Activities or Smith's Strands in the Web. For teaching green issues by video, try Worldlink's award-winning Spaceship Earth: Our Global Environment featuring pop singer Sting and environmentally-committed youth around the world. A great source of readings on environmental issues is BBC's Blue Peter Green Book available in Japan from Global Media Systems (GMS). To learn what children around the world think about environmental problems, look through Dear World - a unique collection of messages and drawings by children from 40 countries round the globe.

To keep in touch with exciting new ideas and activities in environmental education, you should definitely subscribe to Green Teacher magazine. For stimulating resource materials, get WWF's Environmental Education Catalog.

There has been an explosion of EFL textbooks in Japan and elsewhere dealing with environmental themes. The list opposite is just a fraction of what's available. Try some out!


Many language teachers are actively involved in environmental education. The list here gives names of a few key people.


* Class Atmosphere & Teacher Lifestyles: Students quickly sense the hypocrisy when teachers teach about the environment but demonstrate a teaching style or lifestyle that wastes energy or resources. If you make handouts, for example, use recycled paper.

* Out-of-Class: Language practice and environmental action can be combined through out of class activities. A few hours spent cleaning up a local beach with your students while talking in the target language can result in improved language skills and a cleaner environment. A mountain hike or recycling center visit can raise environmental awareness and provide rich language learning content.

* Garbage Analysis: Some environmental education teachers come into class, dump out the nearest school wastebasket in front of the class, then go through each item piece by piece to show students what they throw away, what each item is made of and how it can be recycled. Others have students do classroom reports about their own home garbage surveys.

Green Pledge

I pledge to do my share in saving the planet by letting my concern for the environment shape how I...

ACT: I pledge to do my utmost to recycle, reuse, conserve energy, save water, use efficient transportation, and to adapt a lifestyle as if every day were Earth Day.

PURCHASE: I pledge to do my best to buy and use products that are friendly to the environment and to do business with globally responsible corporations.

VOTE: I pledge to vote and support candidates who demonstrate an abiding concern for the environment.

SUPPORT: I pledge to support the passage of local and national laws, and international treaties that protect the environment.

SIGNED: _____________________________

* * * * *

Please note that the most recent issues of the newsletter are available to subscribers only. Please check our subcription page at for more details about subscribing.

You can search the site by using the above tabs or click on the links below.

Kip A. Cates, Tottori University, Koyama, Tottori City, JAPAN 680-8551
E-mail: Work Tel/Fax: 0857-31-5650