Embedding SDGs into classroom: Let’s get Re-Started

State School Education Counsellor Emeritus, London Embassy of Greece- Education Attaché (2000-2005), Ηellenic Open University Tutor (2007-2015)

There is no doubt that we, as foreign language teachers, have been advocates of educational change, in many parts of the world since late-20th, applying student centered approaches with real life relevant collaborative project-based learning.  By bringing the educational dimension in the MFL classroom we inspire students to deal with real world issues and become global citizens properly equipped to tackle the challenges we face.

In MFL classrooms, where educational aims are integrated with language aims, students are encouraged to question, conduct surveys, research, reflect, and finally purposefully and meaningfully communicate. As a result, through their prompt active involvement they become proficient in target language while at the same time develop the range of their social and cognitive development.

With this in mind, aware of our unsustainable lifestyle, a real threat for planet earth and all humanity, I did my usual “green” browsing.  While logging onto a number of sites which bill themselves as media dedicated to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement, I thumbed through the recent 2023 summit report on the 17 SDGs which were adopted by all United Nations (UN) members in 2015. These Goals have the power to create a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, fighting inequality, and addressing the issue of climate crisis.

During the 2023 summit, which marked the half-way point to the 2030 deadline, it was reported that progress on SDGs has stalled as only 25% of the goals appear to be on track, while progress is too slow for 48% and backsliding for the remaining 27%.

These figures mark the urgent need to accelerate actions leading up to 2030. We need a lot of de-learning if we intend to make significant changes by 2030 and pave the way for a better and more sustainable future for all.

Therefore, in an attempt to re-invigorate the sustainability mainstream, we, as teachers of English, have our own significant role. Even though, the short-term investment in the realities of our state or private EFL classes is not ideal, I do have hopes that it will pay off over the long term.

The SDGs, commonly known as “Global Goals” provide a clear framework for our EFL students to address critical global issues while learning a second or foreign language.

So, let’s get RE-started with the Basics.

Introduce learners to GLOBAL GOALS. Watch the SDGs videos  SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS  What are SDGs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dzFbP2AgFo @SmileandLearnEnglish   Development Goals||UN SDGs|| 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXASRXbjR08 #Sustainable Development Goals||UN SDGs|| 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eywfTNBgO24 @bkgfsiservices7986   Ask students a) to jot down non elicitable words b) to pose questions about SDGs. In case you are not sure about the answer encourage students to log onto the UN Global Goals site  and find answers themselves c)to name and prioritize SDGs justifying choices d) to download and creatively use relevant icons/posters found at https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/communications-material/  
  2.  Ask learners to log on United Nations Development Programme - UNDP (https://www.facebook.com/UNDP)   Let students explore without too much guidance. One thing is for sure that they get absorbed immediately, genuinely interested, using their time productively. Ask them to choose a photo or a video and connect to the corresponding SDG. Give reasons for choice. Ask them to find a photo or video of particular interest that they would be prepared to tell their classmates.    
  Starting a community action plan. Acting locally for sustainability.   Provide food for thought and sensitize.   Watch video: “Red Alert - How to meet the Sustainable Development Goals together | SDG Moment”|United Nations” @unitednations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXASRXbjR08 Students and teachers cooperate to better understand and identify problems relevant to their lives. Utilizing problem solving pedagogy, they meticulously plan a community walk, depending on where they live, ease of access, school safeguarding policy and risk assessment. While viewing their community from a fresh perspective they choose a local community issue for a change project e.g. plastic-free packaging, zero-emission vehicles, recycling paper or glass, reducing food waste at home, school, restaurant.   Research around that issue they want to help solve, and create an action plan to get started. Speak up to family, friends, neighbours and invite to join. Bold changes need people to work collectively to build more peaceful and stronger societies.    
  Go in for Arts   Encourage students to prepare group presentation, documentary, media post, on the heart of a green subject of their interest, choosing from the rich platform of Art-Focused Pedagogies (music, photography, painting, drama,) to enhance impact.    

Leaving you with these ideas I truly believe that as language educators we can show the way forward to a better future for all. Plenty of sites and media, chock-full of interesting SDG material to be used as is or with adjustments as deemed necessary can contribute to our work adding value to our teaching by making it absolutely significant to our lives on a safe and healthy planet.


Angeliki Deligianni-Georgakas

Angeliki Deligianni-Georgakas

E.d.D. Exeter Universitty UK