So, you want to teach nature and sustainability to English language learners?
Great! Then you’re in the right place!
Just in case you’re wondering: no, you don’t have to be an experienced language trainer to teach a language successfully, nor do you have to be a seasoned naturalist to share what you know about nature. Although having practical experience in at least one of these areas would be a great place to start, it’s enough just to be interested in learning both sides. Everything here is learnable.
Here is your starting place for learning how to:
- integrate experiential, outdoor nature and environmental education with content-based, experiential language learning, and
- lead your own successful English in Nature integrated learning program in the near future.
Why teach English in Nature?
Let’s face it, for many people, learning a foreign language is hard, joyless work. If you have ever tried and been unsuccessful, you may already have some ideas as to why it didn’t work for you.
Failing to learn a language often has more to do with teaching methods than with your ability or (lack of) motivation to learn.
Your own experiences of learning a foreign language, and I mean any language, whether in school or as an adult, will help you on your journey to becoming a teacher of English in Nature. However, this may possibly involve a little bit of unlearning as well.
For people who know they like being outdoors, it’s a no-brainer: the best part of teaching English in Nature is that you get to spend more time outdoors, while doing incredibly fun stuff!
My goals here are to:
- tell you that there are real opportunities to make it your job to do exactly what you love doing,
- give you practical ways to provide your learners (or your children) with meaningful opportunities to reap the health benefits of spending more time outdoors, and
- shed light on all of the many, many facets of the English in Nature teaching-learning experience.
This introductory post simply explains what English in Nature is and the path you can take if you want to expand your skill set and start teaching English in Nature.
What is English in Nature?
Briefly put, just as the name suggests, English in Nature is
A program that combines nature and sustainability education with English language learning.
From the learner’s point of view, it might be seen as “English for nature lovers”. It is more than that, of course.
Naturally, English in Nature is ideal for hobby naturalists, outdoor adventurers, nature photographers, conservation scientists, hobby gardeners, foresters, hunters, wildlife biologists, educators of all kinds, artists or activists, or anyone thinking of becoming one of these.
But your learners don’t have to become, any of these. To participate in such a program, your learners need only be curious about nature, interested in using and improving their English, and willing to give outdoor learning a try.
To get really specific about it, English in Nature is a program that combines:
- raising awareness of nature, wildlife and sustainability together with
- experiential outdoor education, while
- building valuable life skills, including English language proficiency.
Sound complicated? Well, in some ways it is and, in others, it isn’t.
How all this works can sound a bit complicated, but, trust me, it’s a lot easier to do than it is to explain!
Like to lead your own English in Nature Program?
Awesome! Then just keep reading!
You may be wondering how your existing skills and knowledge are going to help you. You may also want to know what kinds of materials and equipment will be needed. We’ll get to that in a bit.
But, let’s just consider for a moment where it is you’re coming from.
You may be:
- a naturalist, outdoor educator, conservation scientist or environmental activist engaged in some form of nature or wildlife awareness or sustainability education or outreach, and you want to reach out more to international audiences, English learners or both.
- a language trainer or school teacher who wants to bring more hands-on learning of nature and sustainability into your ESL/EFL lessons, as well as expand your repertoire to include experiential outdoor nature, wildlife and sustainability education.
- a school teacher who wants to bring more English into your biology, geography, gardening, physical education, environmental science, or art lesson.
- a parent, perhaps managing a homeschool, who would love to coordinate more fun, practical, multi-purpose outdoor adventure learning as a family.
Wherever you’re coming from, you’ll find that some aspects of English in Nature will look and sound very familiar to you and some parts that may be totally new.
No matter which side of this dual-focused area of education you’re already familiar with, even if you are just starting to do any of the above, I promise you that you’ll find that the rest of what you need is all here, too. Once started, you’ll either find everything you’ll need for leading your own successful English in Nature program right here on this site, or I will do my very best to provide it for you!
Let’s just get one more thing straight:
To teach English in Nature, you do not need to know the minutest details of how the English language works, but you do need to know something about why you should use certain techniques and methods, and not others, to teach language learners.
Ready? Well, alright! Let’s get to it!
We’ll start your journey with a brief, easy to read orientation, which includes details on the four essential items listed below.
Four Essentials Items You’ll Need to Teach English in Nature
1. A nature calendar or journal
Logically, teaching or learning English in Nature requires you to spend time outdoors as well as some form of organized communication. For this, your Nature calendar or journal will be your best friend.
Examples of what to record and how are also given in:
- How to Keep and Use a Nature Calendar for Teaching English in Nature and
- Introducing Nature Journals to Your Learners.
The sooner you start, the better, and you’ll be glad you did!
2. Basic essential equipment and supplies
The next thing you’ll need is the list of basic essential equipment for conducting your outdoor lessons. With this list, you’ll also receive your Starter Guide. Once you’ve got the list of essentials in your hands, your Starter Guide will show you what you can do with them.
Many of these essentials are possible to make by hand, others you may prefer to buy from a reputable manufacturer. My list of DIY tutorials and product reviews will be growing week by week. As a subscriber, you can relax and stay informed of the latest updates and additions.
Once subscribed, you’ll also get access to simple-to-use lesson plans and other helpful tips and resources (see number 3). Some lessons require a few odd items in addition to the list of basic essentials. These will always be clearly indicated in each lesson plan.
3. Content: Lessons designed to deliver English- and Nature-integrated content
Just as you would assume, content-based language learning requires above all: CONTENT.
Even if you’re an experienced teacher, this part can be the most time-consuming of all, which is why I provide you with as many pre-designed lessons as I can.
You may already know something about lesson planning, which is a great advantage, but, if not, just know that lesson planning is a learned skill, like any other skill, and you will be able to create your own English in Nature lessons soon enough, if you want to. Remember: Everything is learnable.
All English in Nature lessons combine your set of skills together with all the potential learning that Mother Nature herself has to offer, ultimately, to give your learner the most memorable, content-enriched educational experience they can imagine.
The English in Nature Library of Resources includes enough lesson plans to get started, plus checklists, games, stories, experiments, activities, tutorials and more. These resources will be growing and expanding continually and is available now, for free, but ONLY to my email subscribers who join during this early phase!
Want to know exactly how to apply the English in Nature learning concept? The optional skills courses mentioned in number 4 will show you how it works and, just as importantly, how it feels to be on the receiving end.
Not a subscriber yet?
4. Methods & Skills Self-Assessment
Now that you’ve got all the essential tools, equipment and content in your hands, all that’s left is finding out how to put all this to use!
And I can tell you, THIS is where the magic starts to happen!
Putting it all together requires your basic set of skills and methods, much of which you may already have under your belt. Your skill set will expand over time, this depends only on you.
The methods used in English in Nature programs are the secret sauce. Sign up for the the free webinar to get a thorough introduction to the English in Nature style of teaching.
Sign up for the free webinar (coming soon).
To make sure you start at the right place, you’ll establish your baseline by doing a self-assessment of your existing skills. These include your basic life skills, your teaching skills, if any, plus a few others. For example, if you’ve ever experienced what it’s like to learn a new language, regardless of how successful you were, this counts as well!
Get your self-assessment here.
By the way, if you’re worried about being totally over your head, don’t be. Again… Yep, you guessed it: everything is learnable! Skills courses will be offered from time to time, sometimes directly, other times per recommendation of another provider.
Expanding your own knowledge, experience and skill set is part of the magic of this journey!
As you’ll see, the methods used to teach English in Nature will be different in a few ways to the methods you may have used or seen in a conventional language classroom, and not only because the lessons take place outdoors. There might also be a few things to unlearn. These courses also differ somewhat from experiential education programs designed for native speakers. In the end, the experiential aspect is the most important of all.
If you can learn it, you can teach it.
What to do now:
These four steps–keeping a nature journal, getting the list equipment essentials, gaining access to quality content and assessing your own skills and knowledge–will all help you to get a better understanding of how these methods work and why, and get you on your way. All four of these are components of your Starter Guide.
Join the newsletter now and you’ll be in!
To summarize, with your early-bird subscription, you’ll receive:
- Your Starter Guide–which is almost ready to go, and includes the four components I just told you about,
- exclusive, super valuable tips and hacks on everything from nature journaling to starting a teaching garden,
- FREE early-bird access to the English in Nature Resource Library (limited time offer) and
- regular and timely updates on all new English in Nature resources, events and offers.
Once you’re in, you can do your own quick self-assessment of skills and knowledge needed for teaching English in Nature, and then feel free to view the courses suggestions for building and expanding your skills set even further.
So there you have it! It might sound like a lot now, but it will feel like a breeze once you’re out there and doing it!
For more information….
For a compact overview that will show you how it all fits together and help you to start learning the ropes, I warmly invite you to join a free online seminar, in which all the various stages of learning and teaching English in Nature are explained as well as the resources available to you. Plus, you’ll hear about skill-building courses that you may want to join in the near future.
Dates and times of the free webinar (online seminar) will be announced via email to my subscribers. Simply join the newsletter CoyoteSong for updates!
A one-time, 60-minute, individual coaching session is also available for a modest fee, if you wish for more personal attention. However, the same basic information will be given at no cost in my online seminar, which will be offered regularly.
Just for attending the online seminar, just because I’d be so thrilled to have you join me, you’ll also receive a GUEST PASS to try out an introductory course for free!
Also exciting: as the program is still in its early phases, during first few online seminars (aka webinar) I’ll be offering the opportunity to join my beta course at an insanely low price, in exchange for your honest feedback and testimonial.
Again, course dates and times will be announced in the newsletter CoyoteSong that I send to my subscribers. So, keep an eye out for that announcement as well!
If you’ve read this far, then you are definitely the kind of person I’d love to meet soon in an online–or, when possible again, off-line–session!
Take the time you need, feel free to browse the blog, try out the free resources (the links will be sent to you when you subscribe) and contact me anytime if you have any questions that don’t get answered in the online seminar. I would love to hear from you!
Invest the time it takes to go through the four steps mentioned above–once you’ve subscribed, it should take you less than an hour to:
- start a nature calendar or journal,
- get your equipment & supplies checklist,
- review or test out the free sample lessons and other free resources and
- do your skills and knowledge self-assessment,
and be one HUGE step closer to being ready to teach English in Nature.
Where it goes from there is up to you!
Sign up for the newletter to stay informed, then join a webinar, as soon as this comes online, to get all your questions answered. In the meantime, feel free to send me your questions in an email!
I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Did you find this article helpful? Please leave your comments or questions below, or send me an email directly via the form on my contact page.
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES (links, internal & external):
- DIY Essential Equipment for Teachers of English in Nature
- 10 Best Tools for Naturalists of Every Age
- English in Nature Library of Free Resources
- Complete List of Skills Courses for Teachers of English in Nature
- How to Keep a Nature Calendar
- Introducing Nature Journals to your English in Nature Learners.