Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Teaching English as a Foreign Language with Social Responsibility

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Are you conserving and recycling water? As EFL, ESL or foreign language teaching professionals we ultimately have a responsibility to our learners, our adopted communities and ourselves as a form of social responsibility. We can quite easily, quickly and responsibly incorporate global, regional and local social issues into our class sessions to provide our language learners with an outlet for their English as a foreign language or other foreign language communicative skills. Pollution, crime, the environment, global warming and terrorism are all available topics of concern regionally and locally worldwide. Take water conservation for example.

It’s Raining But No One’s complaining

It’s raining this morning but no one’s complaining. Why? It’s because our city, Cali, is running out of water. Oh, officials aren’t really completely up in arms yet, neither are the people, however, the signs are all unmistakably there. Water outages occur each week. Water pressure is low and at times what comes out of your tap at home isn’t even fit to water the plants with. Not only is the water “unpleasant” overall, it’s discolored, smells bad and contains sediment I’m not sure I even want to have identified. A couple or so years ago, city water service was interrupted when not one but two – count ’em – two dead bodies were discovered in the city’s water service reservoir. We won’t go into that at this time though.

But back to the rain, folks. Usually the rainy season here is what most people consider to be the Winter, the months of December, January and February. During that time we’ll have moderate to heavy rainfall almost daily, mainly at night. During those months conventional wisdom causes you to constantly carry a collapsible umbrella or risk a sudden drenching at virtually any hour of the day or night. December 2009, January and February of 2010 though were very different. We go practically no rain at all for weeks on end. Gardens withered, ornamental shrubs turned brown or just plain dried up. The grass was gone for all intent and purposes. This is a tropical climate you see, and the weather is warm to hot year round. No rain, no water – a problem for everybody. So when the rains finally came this month, no one complained.

Thousands of Gallons of Water Being Wasted

Walking down the street, I consciously noticed the thousands of gallons of water being wasted. Rain ran in torrents from rooftops. It dribbled in droves from balconies and porches. It flooded gutters and pooled in small ponds where storm drains were clogged with debris. Rain ran in rivers down culverts to nowhere. What a waste, I thought. Just think, if only half or a third of the businesses, schools and institutions and private homes channeled their rain runoff into storage containers, there would hardly be any “water shortage” in this city. The same is quite likely true of many cities worldwide as well.

An Accidental Water Conservation Discovery

It was sort of by accident we truly discovered the value of water conservation and recycling. When we put a plastic barrel under a downspout to collect the rainwater for watering the plants in the yard, it was such a help we soon added a second large covered container in the back. This collected water was used to wash clothes, flush the toilets and do general house cleaning. At first I was absolutely stunned at the quantity of water used to wash, then rinse (twice) a load of clothes. We started collecting the last rinse water from the washing machine to use for cleaning, flushing toilets and mopping. As a matter of fact, the rinse water even already had a little soap still in it contributing even more to our savings. Two more large rain water collection containers were added beneath downspouts in the back of the house, mostly used as “utility” water. Our water and sewer bill plummeted by nearly 70%. Now who in the world is going to complain about that?

The water company, that’s who.

Why is Your Water Usage So Low?

A water company service truck arrived one afternoon without notice.

Why has your water usage suddenly gotten so low?”

They wondered, then asked – and not all that politely either. After showing the two men our rain water collection, recycling and conservation measures, they nodded in agreement that we weren’t doing anything illegal, confirming that the water meter had not been “tampered with” and reluctantly congratulated us on our efforts. Naturally, I related the whole experience to my English as a foreign language learners who soon spread the word. They continue to comment in class on changes that they and their families have made – or not, and what the outcomes have been. Most are realizing some substantial savings which often get funneled into beer and aguardiente consumption. But then that’s another story.

And speaking of stories, what’s yours? Are you conserving and recycling water?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.


Karate Pants said...

I couldn't agree with you more on the absolute need for water conservation. While teaching English in Burkina Faso, West Africa, I went to a village called Kora--the villagers had to carry water up a half-mile long mountain!!! It take water for granted in America. We don't get dripping sinks fixed or we'll leave the water on running while brushing our teeth...while a lot of the world is carrying water for miles on their heads! Conserve please!

Anthony said...

That's a nice, instructive article. I like the analogy with water!