This was an ambitious one. Trying to make the topics of environment and global issues interesting was not the easiest task I have ever set myself. I’m admit that I am not entirely sure if I have succeeded on this one. Hopefully there is something for every reader. Maybe it is an activity, or an idea below reminds you of a great resource or activity you have not used for a while.
Before I start, the reader should be aware of the following:
- AQA refers to “global issues” and refers to “the environment”, “poverty/homelessness”
- Edexcel/Pearson refers to “international and global dimension” with subheadings of “environmental issues, being green, access to natural resources”
- WJEC simply refers to “global sustainability”.
I have done my best to put ideas that can be applied to all boards. There will be a lean towards one in terms of the language used as that is what I am currently teaching. There is certainly no intent to promote one above the other.
This post will look at a mix of the environment and global issues. Poverty was covered here as I thought it went well with charity and volunteering.
What can I do with these themes?
Environment is a great opportunity to recycle or introduce previously learnt language. In the past I have taught “you must” and similar phrases. It has been used to revise the future (“will” or “going to”). I have also used it as a means of teaching the conditional (“i could…”). Lastly, it was a good means of introducing students to the subjunctive with impersonal statements such as “es necesario que”. They were then introduced to the subjunctive properly with the global issues. Global issues also became a good way to revise comparatives and superlatives.
Will my students be interested?
I think this is all about the “buy-in” from students. Some will have an interest in the environment and being environmentally friendly. They will go along with you on this topic. I can picture that with other groups, and you know the ones I mean, it might be a tough ask. I think in this case, any “buy-in” comes from the possibility that this topic could confront them on a roleplay card or photocard and they need to be ready for it. Some may not engage at all. I found the global issues topic engaged a mixed ability group, particularly the debate mentioned below.
Match up L2 & L2
Having seen this on a past paper example, I have started to use it more with my GCSE students. There is a reasonably detailed reading text about a topic. Opposite the text are 4 text messages from supposed young people that relate to points made in the text.
This infographic from día mundial del medio ambiente would serve just such a purpose. students would have to write a number based on the alleged text messages sent by 4 supposed teenagers.
I have put links to two French ones below and two German ones as examples, you may be able to find better ones.
French infographic 1
French Infographic 2
German Infographic 1
German Infographic 2
These are simple ways to include some literary texts in your lessons without having to produce too much. There are other ways to include literary texts in your lessons but that is another blogpost.
You can also create your own infographics if you were looking for a different reading text for recycling vocabulary. Easel.ly and Infogram were two I came across on a brief search. If you know of a great one, put it in the comments section and claim the title of “First Commenter of 2018”.
I discovered this whatsapp generator. The disadvantage in using it is that it does mean a bit of work in terms of resource preparation. However, it will stop the normal glazing over that occurs when students see the textbook displaying a Nokia 3210 with buttons and a green screen (also known as the good old days). The advantage is that you can produce the language and recycle plenty of vocabulary that you have covered in class.
How does this relate to global issues? Very simple. Create a fake group-chat using fakeWhatsapp. Person 1 in the chat suggests they have a project where they have to ask people what they do to help the environment. Persons 2,3,4,5 simply answer with what they do. You could set some comprehension questions. You could read out some statements that they then match to the people in the conversation. Students could produce their own groupchat mimicking your one. Plenty of options here.
How environmentally-friendly are you?
Some textbooks will have these. However, if you are good with the language then translating this one will not take long. You can probably find others on the TES website. Quizzes are a great way to recycle and repeat language, along with revising time adverbs. Partners take turns reading the question and answering them. If answers are linked to points then students could grade how environmentally friendly they are.
Do you turn out the lights on leaving the house?
- A. I always turn out the lights on leaving the house
- B. I often turn out the lights on leaving the house
- C. I sometimes turn out the lights on leaving the house
- D. Never. I’m scared of the dark
The advantage of preparing your own is the recycling of previously learnt language.
Using the quiz above. Students pre-select an answer for each question. Their partner then has to get from the start of the quiz to the end of the quiz. Each time they are wrong, they lose a life.
Person 1 pre-selects answers
Person 1 reads question “Do you turn out the lights on leaving the house?”
Person 2 tries to guess pre-selected answer. “I always turn out the lights on leaving the house”
Person 1: “non/nein/no”
Person 2: now down to 8 lives, tries to guess pre-selected answer “I sometimes turn out the lights on leaving the house”
Person 1: “oui/ja/si” reads next question “How often do you have a shower?”
and so it goes on…
7 pictures 7 sentences
This was adapted from a commercially produced textbook. It involved 7 sentences, each was divided in two. There was also a picture. The first task was to match the sentence halves and then match the sentences to the pictures underneath. It would not take much to create your own version of this.
Moving on from the activity above, you could use these as a start of a photo-card discussion. You could also simply get the pupils to generate sentences relating to the picture.
Recycling container seen in San Sebastian.
Containers Card Sort
Again an adaptation of a commercially produced textbook (the same one in fact). It was a great way to acquire and use a variety of vocabulary in a meaningful context. Give students a series of headings in books (such as recycling containers) and a set of vocabulary (that can go in the containers). You could adapt this to different levels
Easy: put vocabulary in correct container
Medium: Scaffolded sentences explaining where you would put each item
Hard: Use of conditional + direct object. I would put it in … because
This was an activity that happened after a few lessons, in which we had covered opinion phrases, superlatives, subjunctive and global issues vocabulary.
A few years ago, there were a number of teachers talking about “Grouptalk”. One of the ideas I saw was the idea of a cyclical discussion. Students would start a discussion on a table of four and try to keep it going as long as possible. I tried this last year with a mixed ability year 10 group on the “biggest problem facing the world”. The conversation was heavily scaffolded with vocabulary help and some prompts on paper. I have rendered the potential conversation below in English. Names have been altered.
Ross: “In my opinion, the biggest problem in the world is poverty What do you think Phoebe?”
Phoebe: “For me, the biggest problem in the world is terrorism. Joey, in your opinion, between racism and terrorism, which is worse?”
Joey: “I believe that world leaders are the biggest problem.”
Rachel (interrupting) : “Joey you’re completely wrong, it’s global warming.”
Joey: “I disagree. Ross, what do you think: global warming or terrorism?”
Students were genuinely surprised that they could take part in a relatively tricky debate entirely in the TL.
Debate Round 2: Bingo cards
Were I to do the debate above again, I would give 5×5 grid bingo cards with phrases to use. Students that complete a line or a row would receive some form of reward. Something like this could work…
|I asked someone an opinion
||me da miedo que exista
||Desde mi punto de vista
||aunque quisiera pensar de otra manera
|I asked a question with two options
||es increíble que haya
||el problema que nos enfrenta es
|Finished statement with a question
||no creo que sea
||A mi modo de ver
||y por si eso fuera poco
If you do not trust the student who is claiming the reward then you have two options:
- Students have to tell you one or two of the ways they used the phrases above
- Their partner completes it while they talk
Formerly an italian Renaissance design motif, now an educational activity. The idea of Tarsia puzzles was hotly debated on the GILT Facebook Group a while back. Some were heavily in favour; others were heavily against. Arguments for included testing of vocabulary. Arguments against suggested it was testing of being able to put shapes together. Both points of view have been put forward by experienced colleagues. Rather than a simple English-German matchup, I have tried to make them more challenging by doing the following:
- Populate it with a mix of seen and unseen vocabulary.
- Have the words around the outside edge as well – Maths do this with formulas to great effect. Students could translate the outside edge vocabulary as an extension task.
- Have the tarsia composed entirely of synonyms in TL.
- Have the tarsia composed of starts and ends of sentences.
- Have the tarsia composed of a mixture of haben/sein verbs in perfect tense or etre/avoir verbs in passé composé.
Tarsia are puzzles I was introduced to by our maths department. They were used to match up formulas that would give the same result but there are many ways to adapt them for MFL. A google image search of the word will show you how they look. How can you make one? Download the program here. They are quite heavy on the photocopying and chopping up so you may need your tutor group to do the chopping for you.