‘I think they are irresponsible.’ Teaching Sustainability with (Counter) Narratives in the Digital EFL Classroom

Activity: Talk or presentationConference PresentationsResearch

Joannis Kaliampos - Speaker

Martina Kohl - Speaker

“Going Green – Education for Sustainability” is a German-American blended learning project for the EFL and STEM classrooms that asks students to challenge commonly held stereotypes about how both cultures approach the question of sustainable development. Since the pilot project (2014), over 2,000 secondary school students in Germany and the U.S. have enrolled on a shared learning management system (Moodle). They completed a series of task cycles collaboratively both online and in their face-to-face classes; they developed green action plans for their schools and communities and presented them online and at student conferences as part of an annual school competition.
In our presentation, we are first going to provide a conceptual perspective on the rationale behind Going Green that includes the aspects of (a) teaching ‘publics’, (b) countering expectations and misconceptions, (c) raising awareness of counter-narratives, and (d) expanding the knowledge base of the target culture (sustainable policies in the U.S.). We argue that these components together facilitate learning objectives beyond interactional and communicative competencies; that is, they promote development learner agency and community-based actions outside the classroom walls. Secondly, we apply an empirical perspective by presenting attitudinal data of participant learners’ expectations and understandings regarding sustainable policies in the U.S. and Germany that were drawn from a questionnaire survey among students in the last two project cycles (2016-17, 2017-18). The analysis of these learner accounts reflects a heterogeneous range of opinions and views. We will finally describe how different narratives and counter-narratives of sustainable development on both sides of the Atlantic can be exploited in the technology-enhanced foreign language classroom in order to facilitate the aforementioned goals.

with Dr. Martina Kohl (U.S. Embassy Berlin)


65th Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies - DGfA 2018: “American Counter/Publics”


Berlin, Germany

Event: Conference