The Climate Connection

British Council

The Climate Connection (#TheClimateConnection) is a new podcast series from the British Council which explores the relationship between the climate crisis and language education. Across the ten episodes, we’ll hear from a wide range of leading practitioners working in the sector – teachers, trainers, researchers, publishers and authors. We’ll travel from Colombia to China, Moldova to Mali, and Palestine to Poland in our quest to share what’s happening at the cutting edge of climate action in language education. In partnership with the Oxford English Dictionary, we’ll also learn more about the origins of climate-related language, in both English and other languages. Visit https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/professional-development/podcast for more information and additional content.

All Episodes

In our final episode, we draw together some of the main themes of this series and explore how language learning and the climate crisis should not be looked at in isolation, but rather how they are related to wider social justice issues. Renowned language expert Suzanne Romaine discusses some of her recent research into language and sustainable development, and the links between the climate crisis and language death.  In our second interview, we hear from Mike Solly about how the British Council’s practices and values are developing with regards to the climate crisis, and from Mariana Roccia who focuses on topics as diverse as ecotourism, ecowriting and ecolinguistics. Our final From the Field is a ‘vox pop special’, where we find out more from our listeners all around the world about language teacher initiatives to fight the climate crisis. Our last Green Glossary looks at two more words which we haven’t had the opportunity to look at elsewhere in the series, namely ‘greenwash’ and ‘morbique’. https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-10-future-perfect (Download the show notes, transcript and bonus material from our TeachingEnglish website)

Sep 14

40 min 2 sec

In episode 9 we explore how the global climate crisis is represented in English language textbooks. From the practitioner side, the teacher, researcher and textbook writer George Jacobs explores how the climate crisis can successfully be integrated into language learning, so as to engage and inspire learners. From the publisher side, Andrew Robinson from National Geographic Learning and Angelica Manca from Hoopla Education talk about how their companies have responded to environmental challenges, both in terms of their own business practices, and in the kind of ELT books which they are publishing. In From the Field, we hear from Sheena Adams, who has worked with a group of Inuvialuktun elders in Canada’s Northwest Territories to create a new vocabulary of renewable energy terminology so that they can more effectively talk about – and solve – some of the new challenges presented by the climate crisis. In the penultimate Green Glossary, the team share some of their favourite climate-related words which we haven’t had a chance to discuss in the series so far. Visit https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-9-environmental-writes (TeachingEnglish) for show notes and bonus material

Aug 31

48 min 22 sec

Anxiety about the climate is a serious and growing problem, in particular amongst young people. In Episode 8, Caroline Hickman from the Climate Psychology Alliance explores this phenomenon. She discusses how eco anxiety emerges, how it can affect learning, how it can be managed, and how language can act as a ‘safe space’ where these anxieties can be addressed. In From the Field, we hear from Malaika, an incredible school in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is doing all it can to be self-sufficient and to embed climate responsibility in everything that it does, and how this can create resilience. The Green Glossary, meanwhile, focuses on the etymology of ‘fossil fuel’, and considers the process of ‘register shift’, that is, how the meaning of words can change over time. Visit https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-8-present-tense (TeachingEnglish) to find show notes and additional resources

Aug 17

47 min 20 sec

Episode 7 is all about how language shapes our environment and how the environment shapes our language. In exploring this topic, we talk to two renowned academics working in this field. Firstly, we talk to Arran Stibbe, who guides us through the world of ecolinguistics, looking at how language choices really do matter with regards to the environment and how they can be a powerful weapon in fighting the climate crisis. This theme is picked up in From the Field, where we hear from the innovative Living-Language-Land project, which is attempting to create a living lexicon – a word bank drawn from minority and disappearing languages in relation to land and nature.  This global approach is echoed in The Green Glossary, where climate vocabulary in languages other than English, such as flygskam (Swedish), Heißzeit (German) and lonu gan’du (Dhivevi) are discussed. In our second interview, we talk to Ros Appleby, who talks about climate refugees, rewilding pedagogy, and how she created an English language course based on her experience of swimming with sharks. Visit https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-7-natural-language (TeachingEnglish) to find show notes and additional resources

Aug 3

50 min 7 sec

The focus of episode 6 is on educational institutions themselves, and what they can do to promote climate literacy. Our first guest is Asha Alexander, the dynamic principal of a large kindergarten in Dubai and UN climate champion who is a pioneer in climate literacy. in From the Field, we hear from Malaika, an incredible school in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is doing all it can to be self-sufficient and to embed climate responsibility in everything that it does. Similarly, in our second interview, Beccy Wrigglesworth from International House World talks about their environmental sustainability programme, joining Rose Aylett in reflecting on the role of the ELT industry as a whole in creating a more just world, and how language can be a central part of that. The Green Glossary takes us on a whistle-stop tour of localized varieties of English spoken around the world, looking at words including Kaitiakitangai (Māori), Bayanihan (Tagalog) and jugaad (Hindi). https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-6-global-schooling (Download the show notes and extras from TeachingEnglish)

Jul 20

51 min 24 sec

In episode 5, our attention shifts away from the ‘macro’ to focus more on the ‘micro’. In a double-length interview with Stephen Heppell, a world expert in online education and learning spaces, we explore how classrooms themselves can become more environmentally-positive spaces. He shows how small environmental changes can have a big impact on the learning experience and learning outcomes – and why every child should bring their own plant to school. From the Field takes us to Palestine, where we see how different approaches to language education – in the case the Hands-Up Project’s innovative use of drama and remote teaching – can empower young people to learn more about the climate crisis whilst also developing their English skills. In The Green Glossary, we examine one of the most common climate-related compounds in English, ‘Carbon footprint’, as well as many other collocations of the word. Download the show notes and find bonus material here: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-5-greenhouse-classes

Jul 6

48 min 58 sec

Teaching materials are the focus of episode 4, specifically how we can maintain the right balance between content and language. To begin with, Aleksandra Zaparucha guides us through the world of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), a pedagogical approach which successfully combines these two components. Linda Ruas and Owain Alexander continue this conversation by talking about their websites (Easier English Wiki and ELT Sustainable) which provide hundreds of free-to-use lesson plans on climate-related issues. When writing such materials, using the right language is important – and so in this episode, The Green Glossary focuses on the importance of connotation, using the difference between ‘climate change’ and ‘climate crisis’ as a starting point. In From the Field, we visit the coastal city of Gabes in Tunisia, where we discover how one school is not only directly involving itself in environmental clean-up campaigns of the heavily-polluted beaches, but is using the waste materials they find to learn English. For bonus material and show notes visit: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-4-where-theres-a-clil-theres-a-way (https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-4-where-theres-a-clil-theres-a-way)

Jun 22

43 min 35 sec

Our attention in Episode 3 turns to the classroom, exploring what teaching and learning methods can effectively address the climate crisis. Scott Thornbury charts the history of ‘green pedagogy’, discussing what kind of teaching approaches are not only effective for language teaching, but are also climate positive. The importance of the outside world inside the classroom is also the theme of From the Field, where we visit Voice in Nature English. This school, situated in China’s Yunnan province, inspires its students to use the natural world as a stimulus for language learning. In our second interview, Kieran Donaghy investigates the use of the visual in climate-related ELT materials, and Ceri Jones talks more generally about how ELT Footprint are trying to mainstream climate messages in language teaching. The Green Glossary focuses on the word ‘ecocide’, which has a longer history than you might imagine, and how prefixes and suffixes can be used for language awareness and development. Download the show notes, transcript and bonus material at the link below: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-3-language-recycling (https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-3-language-recycling)

Jun 8

48 min 10 sec

Young people are heavily affected by the climate crisis. It is they who will have the job of cleaning up the mess left by previous generations. Episode 2 talks to two young climate activists who have already made a significant impact in this area: Jouja Maamri and Sophia Kianni. Jouja is the UK’s delegate to the G7 Youth Summit, where she covers climate policy. She talks about the vital role language plays in addressing the climate crisis, effective ways in which young people can help this fight, and the links between climate and racial justice. Sophia shares with us her experience of setting up Climate Cardinals, a volunteer-led not-for-profit which translates climate information into 100+ languages. Continuing the focus on how young people are taking the lead, From the Field shares some fascinating insights into a project run by the Moldova English Teacher’s Association, who are bringing young people together, through language, to talk about the climate crisis. Perhaps the most famous youth activist of all is the focus of The Green Glossary, as we dissect the meaning of the phrase ‘The Greta Effect’. Download the show notes, transcript and extra material here: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-2-speaking-youth-power (https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/climate-connection-episode-2-speaking-youth-power)

May 25

45 min 39 sec

The opening episode of The Climate Connection considers what the ELT Community is already doing – and what it should be doing – about the climate crisis. The first interview is with Harry Kuchah Kuchah, President of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, who provides some general guidance on this issue whilst also talking specifically about his work in Cameroon and with young learners. Picking up some of Harry’s main themes, Deepa Mirchandani and Chris Graham talk about their forthcoming report Language Teaching for the Planet, which brings together the reflections and ideas of hundreds of professionals working in the ELT sector. In between, in From the Field, we visit the coastal city of Gabes in Tunisia, where we discover how one school is not only directly involving itself in environmental clean-up campaigns of the heavily-polluted beaches, but is using the waste materials they find to learn English. And finally, in The Green Glossary, the term ‘Climate Emergency’ – the 2019 Oxford Word of the Year – will be explained by an editor from the Oxford English Dictionary. 

May 11

44 min 59 sec