As foreign language teachers in the 21st century, we live in critical times. Our world faces serious global issues: social inequalities and environmental destruction. How can we prepare our learners to cope with these prolems? What is our responsibility as language teachers in a world of war, poverty and pollution?
As the world is getting smaller, borders are gone and distances are irrelevant so Global Education is a new approach to language teaching. It aims to enable the learners to acquire a foreign language while improving them with the knowledge, skills and commitment required by world citizens to solve global problems. The 21st century student must know four main points:
The first point is the fact that our planet faces serious global issues. “Hardly a day goes by without an announcement of war activities, the newest lake poisoned by acid rain, the suffering of people.35000 people in the world die everyday from hunger, 24 every minute. Human rights are violated. The global environment is being damaged.
The second point concerns the interdependence of our world. It is impossible to ignore the problems that our planet faces because of the interconnected nature of our global village.
The third point concerns the negative attitude of apathy, indifference; selfishness and ignorance of many modern young people .Opinion polls taken in various countries have found that American youth for example have little knowledge of other cultures and little interest in global issues.
The final point concerns current education systems. Learners in countries around the world are not being adequately prepared to cope with global problems. Schools are locked into traditional education systems that encourage memorization, traditional way of teaching, passive learning and examination pressures.
Global issues and language teaching: One might ask the following question: “What have all these problems got to do with us who are foreign language educators? Isn’t it our job just to teach grammar, vocabulary and examination skills? There are several good reasons why we should care about world problems: one is ethical. Our profession has moral responsibility to society. The education profession has always recognized its unique responsibility in promoting peace, justice and an active concern for the world’s problems.
Education shouldn’t be limited to the three “r”: reading ‘riting ‘rithmetic but we have to add ‘r responsibility.
Global issues are real: the spoliation of the rainforests, the thinning of the ozone layer, acid rain, nuclear waste, population growth and the spread of diseases. We as teachers of foreign languages find it morally wrong to stick our heads into our textbooks and pretend these problems do not exist. We as language teachers have a mission of helping everyone in the world communicate with each other to prevent global disasters from spreading.
Our duty as teachers is to introduce the students to the world issues providing them with relevant information and developing the skills they will need to help work towards solutions.
Global issues can be included in teaching the sound system, grammar, vocabulary……
E.g. If we all recycled paper, we would save more trees.
If we picked up litter at school, we would have a clean environment.
Reading, writing, listening and speaking can also be integrated into global issues content. ( listening to / reading / writing about child labour, pollution, discrimination …. help the students to develop global awareness and language skills through their projects .
General aims of the workshop
* Educating learners about the local environment
* Increasing their interest in and capacity to take part in environmental decision making
*Caring for our natural resources (water)
*Assessing their knowledge and behavior regarding environmental issues
*Raising the learner’s interest / involvement in seeking solutions to our global problems that have gone so dangerous.
*Emphasizing on teaching sts to collaborate and solve problems in small groups and apply what they have learnt in the real world.
*Participating in real life projects.
*creating a change that makes the world a better place to live in.
*Raising awareness, understanding and the importance of implementing learning that will nurture our 21st C citizens (to raise awareness of the problems within our current education systems.)
More of Our Workshop Aims
Our workshop « Bringing the Environment to the Classroom » is not any choice. It came as a moral demand to make our students aware of the environmental issues such as pollution, hunger, drought, water preservation as well as unethical behaviour. We want to get our students prepared as the 21st century citizens who will be responsible for looking after their environment.
In this workshop, we try to correct our students’ behaviour vis-à-vis nature. It is also to engage our colleagues in a noble mission to raise the new generation awareness towards global issues.
The first part presented by our inspector Mr. Djellouli, deals with the reasons why it is urgent to link the environment to the classroom.
The second part present by Mr. Saha, a teacher of English in AissaMessoudi High School, deals with providing our students with simple and easy things to defend, preserve and therefore protect the environment.
The third part presented by Mrs. Heddad, a teacher of English in AkidOthmane High School, deals with the issue of water shortage where students are invited to use simple tools to save water.
The fourth part presented by Miss Meniri, a teacher of English in Imam El Houari High School, deals with unethical behaviours of students in and outside the classroom. She gives students the opportunity to explain and give arguments about their unethical behaviours when sitting for an exam.
The last part presented by Miss Lahmar, a teacher of English in AissaMessoudi High School, deals with the most common environmental issue ‘Global Warming’ where she again provides students with urgent solutions to get rid of problems of nature and gives them some rules to respect…
On the whole, our main purpose is to raise teachers’ awareness about environmental issues. We want to convince them that we have to feel concerned that it is our duty to educate our students. We want to say, “Our responsibility is not just to cover the syllabus, but to think of building the right citizen who would preserve nature, who would respect the others, who would act ethically in all situations, who would keep high his country and would aim at a better world…
Mr.D.Djellouli-Mr.M.Saha-Miss.M.Lahmar-Miss S.Meniri –Mrs.N.Hedad
Notes and references
Cuyle, K.J. Environmental literacy in America
Crimmel,H. (2003):Teaching in the field: working with students in the outdoor classroom (Salt lake Ctiy )
Flicker. (2002):Connecting people with nature . (N.Y)
Kellner, Douglas, New Media and New Literacies: Reconstructing Education for the new Millennium
Pearson Foundation: Teacher Education and 21st Century Skills (you tube video)
Susan Stempleski: Linking the classroom to the World (the environment and EFL
“They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers.” James G.Watt
Read more about the aims of the workshop here......
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