Our Climate as a Concept -
Language A & Concept-based learning & Current debates


Language A - Book CoverBy Katheen Clare Waller author of Language A for the IB Diploma: Concept-based learning: Teaching for Success

So you want to save the earth but you’re just a Language A teacher?  You want to help students take action in meaningful ways?  Bring the climate change debate to your classroom while enriching your students’ conceptual understanding.

In my book to help teachers navigate the new IB DP Language A courses, Language A for the IB Diploma: Concept-based learning: Teaching for Success, I offer ways to bring current events and hot topics into your classroom.  Rather than one-off lessons on newspaper article format or persuasive writing, for example, these important discourses can be an integral part of your syllabus.  Let’s take a brief look at how a topic like climate change can help you to create a concept-based learning classroom.

Conceptual focus 

I offer a way to structure your course that uses conceptual focus areas in addition to the IB’s seven key concepts.  With a more specific focus, you can better bring together content and skills while drawing on interdisciplinary study. 

Climate change could be a focus itself or may be part of a way of looking at Civil Disobedience or Nature, two foci I develop further as part of syllabi and unit organization in chapters 2 and 3.  

Literary movement

No need to abandon classical literature in this approach and certainly not with this topic.  With students, you can investigate the way climate change discourse fits into the Transcendentalist or Romantic artistic movements and their connections to nature.  In this way, the topic might be part of a literature course as extension reading or a mixed-text type unit for language and literature.   

I draw on the work of transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau several times in the book as well as Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), which is a modern memoir and response to Thoreau.  You can see, for example, the way students might analyse Dillard’s text with the aid of critical theory in chapter 4.  After studying more about these artistic movements, you may want to ask students to write a pastiche in their learning portfolios.  I talk about the reasons for doing this task in chapter 5: Developing student writing and speaking.

Power of language

As students use language to discuss this current topic, they can study how the language choice can have political or persuasive effects.  Of course, you can do this in any unit of study, but you may be aware of explicit discourse about the politics of governments using global warming vs. climate change to talk about the changing environment.  Students can also analyse the way governments, environmentalists, energy companies and activists are referred to by different media.  Throughout the book, I discuss this connection between power and language in regards to political texts, racial discourse and professional journalism.  

The above is just a sampling of what you can do with an important topic like our environment, which is sure to interest students.  My book will help you to add structure to such study so that the conceptual understanding endures beyond the classroom walls.

To find out more about our print and digital resources for the new IB Diploma Language A course visit www.hoddereducation.com/IBDPLangA