Higher Education Funding Council for England

Learning English through sustainability

Monday 28-07-2014 - 10:30
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Students’ Green Fund engages a more diverse range of students with their students’ unions, as well as supporting academic achievement across UK education.

At the University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union, we’re seeing an incredible way of achieving these aims, and bringing new students into contact with the green movement: marrying practical applications of sustainability with English language short courses for international students.

Over the summer vacation, it can be difficult to keep students engaged with their union, or sustainability initiatives. But the university’s school of language engages several hundred international students over the weeks of summer, who stay in Preston to study and improve their English.

The first ever Eco English course took place this month, with over 50 international students from Hong Kong and Korea coming together to develop language skills while learning more about sustainability. The course included a tour of an ethical business, an energy trail across the campus looking at air source heat pumps, solar panels and rain harvesting, as well as working in the campus garden and a local nature reserve.

With the activities supported by academics from the school of language, it was the perfect way of enhancing academic excellence while introducing new students to sustainability.

Of the 53 students who took part, only one of them had gardened before taking part in the course, and the consensus of feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “I want to do the gardening back home in Korea”, one student said. “It was a significant experience. If I had opportunity to do it again, I would do it. My major is environment engineering so I love environment, I love nature!”

Assistant director of studies of UCLan language academy Jane Cleary praised the project for its ability to bring practical application to learning language. A real highlight for the teaching team was seeing the language go from the classroom out into the world to be used very naturally in a real-life context”, she told us.

For students’ unions looking for ways to engage with international students across the summer months, this is the perfect project. “This is a model that could easily be transferred to other institutes”, says project lead Emma Rachel Bartlet. “It was such an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for all involved, so do give it a go and run your own Eco English”

Talk to us about engaging new students with sustainability at your students’ union.

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