What can language schools do to become greener?

When looking for a prospective language school students are quite rightly advised to choose one that has been accredited by the British Council and English UK. Why? Well, because this is the hallmark of quality covering the areas of management, resources and environment, teaching, welfare and (where applicable) care of under 18s. A lesser known accreditation is the GSS which stands for Green Standard Schools and awards accreditations to providers of language education that can show that they maintain high environmental standards. The first stage is for the language school to register with GSS https://greenstandardschools.org/ and then to complete a self-assessment questionnaire which asks about the school’s current environmental policies and practices. It then offers advice about how a school can work towards becoming greener and gaining accreditation. Also, how can the school offset the carbon footprint obviously caused by its students taking international flights to attend the school and study English.

Traditionally, English schools and indeed English teachers use a great deal of paper. On the admin side obviously and of course in the classroom. Teachers spend countless hours photocopying, fixing photocopiers, queuing for photocopiers, cutting up pieces of paper, folding pieces of paper and carrying around huge bags of paper. (Maybe that was just me, surely not.)

Rewind a year. The course is going online and you’ll be using Zoom. Great! Wait a minute, what about my lever arch file bursting with fail proof activities and lessons not to mention the hard copy coursebook. Mmmmmm, well you can just digitise all that, after all been meaning to do that since forever. Yikes, that’s a lot of mind numbing work. Houston we have a problem. This may all need a rethink. The move to online and blended learning has definitely meant that paper based lessons take a back seat. I love books and I mean real paper books. However, over the last year I have warmed to ebooks and found that they have many interactive features which are great for learners. I started using the Cambridge Empower series together with their LMS and presentation tool for online classes. Brilliant, I was impressed. I am also toying with the idea of paperless face to face classes (when they return), where the students use tablets exclusively. I am now down to 3 lever arch files, halved from 6. I have an abundance of scrap paper as a result. The first way that schools, teachers and students can become greener is by radically reducing their use of paper. No more heavy bags to cart around full of books and paper. I just need a tablet and an ebook now.

Want to find out more? Watch this video from the GSS. https://youtu.be/GJFkxN_fip8


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