Earth Day Teaching Ideas

Earth Day is coming up this Sunday, April 22nd! Of course, it’s good to talk about protecting the environment on any day of the year, but Earth Day is a good reason to put a special focus on it in class.

I’m planning on using two different activities. First, I’m going to use this video:

It’s a Kia commercial from the 2017 Super Bowl. I’m just going to play the first minute of the video. It’s funny, and it also introduces vocabulary related to the environment (save, protect, etc.) I’m going to use it as a MovieTalk, so I’ll pause frequently to narrate what’s happening on the screen. I’m going to pause after each spoken line in the video to repeat what was said. Since the video moves quickly, pausing after each line will help my students to understand more of the language, and I can explain any words that are new for them.

I think the video can also be used as a good discussion starter in talking about what we can do to protect the environment. Most of us don’t face the dangerous situations depicted in the video, but there might be other challenges we encounter when changing our lifestyle to try to protect the environment. I’m planning to discuss the last line in the video: “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one.” I’ll ask my students if they agree with that statement and whether they think it’s easy or hard to protect the environment.

I also plan on using this video:

It’s from a series made by an organization called Conservation International. They have several different videos, each one narrated by a celebrity who narrates from the perspective of a different part of the environment. (There’s also “Penélope Cruz is Water,” “Harrison Ford is the Ocean,” and others.) The message of the videos is thought-provoking, the images are beautiful, and, best of all (for us ESL teachers), the language is spoken very slowly and clearly. The vocabulary is probably too difficult for lower-level students, but I think it’s okay for the intermediate levels. I created this cloze activity for my Level 4 students. If you want to use one of these videos with lower-level students, I think the Water video has the easiest vocabulary of the ones I’ve seen.

UPDATE: Before I showed the video in class, I told the students that they would hear Mother Nature talking, and I had them work with a partner to write down 3 or 4 things they thought Mother Nature might say to humans. Then, we discussed their ideas all together as a class. It was a good way to introduce the topic and prepare students for watching.

Happy Earth Day!

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