Conducted as part of the Climate Action in Language Education project, this research looks at how the English language teaching (ELT) community is addressing climate action and environmental sustainability – and serves as both an inspiration, by showcasing global initiatives, and a call to action. It draws on the views and experiences of students, teachers, institutions, assessment bodies, teacher and school associations, and publishers to understand how the global ELT sector is tackling the climate crisis through teaching, learning and assessment.

Key insights

  • The ELT community is increasingly engaging with its environmental footprint and its role in climate education; most environmental initiatives are ‘bottom up’, originating with teachers, rather than being ‘top-down’.
  • While clear progress is being made to reduce the carbon footprint of producing and distributing books, the idea of embedding climate change issues into course books is only starting to be embraced.
  • While online learning and connectivity have been accelerated by COVID-19, there is still a lack of policies to measure or reduce digital footprints and ‘climate-friendly’ data storage.  

Supporting young people

The research supports the view that young people are interested and engaged in the nuance of environmental issues, with 76 per cent of respondents wanting more climate-change-related activities and discussions in schools, and 72 per cent wanting more climate-related topics to be included in English lessons. By highlighting best practice initiatives, the research is helping to address these needs, by inspiring educators to look at ways of integrating climate issues into ELT.  

Contributing to climate action

ELT has a vital role to play in tackling climate change, by giving people the tools to understand environmental issues, to discuss ideas and to work together on solutions. The research shines a light on innovative approaches being used by teachers to make global challenges relevant and accessible in the local context. This will inspire more educators to investigate how climate-related issues and content can be integrated into their own learning environments. 

Reinforcing COP26 priorities

The research raises the profile of the UK ELT sector, by providing key thought leadership on climate action in language education. In this way, the UK can leverage the global ELT community in support of climate action and the use of digital learning to improve education and contribute to a cleaner environment. 

Who’s involved?

The research was conducted by ELT experts Christopher Graham and Deepa Mirchandani.

Why the British Council?

The British Council has a long history of helping people across the world learn English, whilst building long-lasting partnerships in the countries we work in. Such networks help to strengthen our global research and thought leadership in the ELT sector, and provide a platform to inspire the international community into action on shared issues. 

Final report forthcoming. Contact for more information.

See also