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From Newcomer to Environmental Citizen Incorporating environmental ethics into the English language classroom


by Galina Vakhromova


materials that teach language skills to newcomers, while helping them understand environmental issues and develop a personal environmental ethic. Developing one’s ethics is about understanding who we are and how we should live. It is also about our relation to each other and nature, and taking responsibility for our actions. All high school disciplines provide opportunities to


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incorporate environmental lessons and help young people become caring and responsible citizens. Although English curricula does not specifically address the environment, developing an understanding of one’s own responsibility for all living things can be fostered in related courses such as Media Studies, Reading and Literature Studies, Oral Commu- nication, Philosophy, ESL and English Literacy Development.


NVIRONMENTAL EDUCATORS who are teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) courses have a unique opportunity: they can develop classroom


The inclusion of environmental ethics into the English as a Second language program for newcomers could be consid- ered a logical extension and would help them recognize how to live their own lives fully. In my ESL program, I have found it useful to incorporate Albert Schweitzer’s “Reverence for Life”1


philosophy. In his


writings, he presents an ethical framework which values all living things. For new immigrants, one of the most important benefits of learning about Albert Schweitzer and his ideas is the opportunity to discuss their own ethical values and explore their own reverence for life. In this article I describe a strategy for teaching Schweitzer’s thoughts in an English language classroom at the high school level.


Program Philosophy


Environmental ethics is a discipline that studies the moral relationship of human beings to the environment, and also the value and moral status of the environment and its non- human inhabitants. Researchers in psychology, environmental


GREEN TEACHER 91 Page 31


Galina Vahkromova


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