Greening ELT : FECEI

In the third post in our Greening ELT series, we would like to thank Scott Markham, president of the Spanish organisation, FECEI (Federación Española de Centros de Enseñanza de Idiomas, Spanish Federation of Language Schools)  for sharing an update on the organisation’s most recent initiatives.

Greening ELT #3 : FECEI – Greening up, cutting down. It’s all about being Responsible.

Fecei, the national federation for language schools in Spain, feels it is important to be socially responsible. The Federation represents language schools all over Spain and organizes many conferences and other events through the local associations in many of the different autonomous communities. These events are for language school owners and teachers alike and we all know that, at these events, a huge quantity of material is distributed by the different collaborators and sponsors.

In May of 2019, four of the associations in the North of Spain, under the name of “The Language of the Sea Project”, organised a simultaneous beach clean-up (5 beaches across the north coast of Spain) to make people aware of the serious problem of plastic in our oceans (

This initiative was extremely successful and lead to a proposal to make a national policy on the use of plastic at the conferences that are organised by FECEI by one the organisers. This proposal was well met by the board of Directors of the federation and a nationwide meeting was set up in Spain’s capital Madrid, where many of the major publishers and examination bodies participated and committed to this new policy.

21st June 2019. Fecei hosts meeting with collaborators, publishers and accreditation bodies to commit to a new policy to reduce plastic in national events in Spain.

Since then, Fecei has produced a series of mini-guides, in accordance with its new sustainability policy, so that collaborators, sponsors and conference organisers can comply with the policy. These initiatives will be put into action in September of 2019, when some of the local associations will be organising their first conferences/ events of the year. (

The guides will be ready at the end of August and we will be sharing a sneak peak with you here on the blog as soon as we can!


Greening ELT : JALT

In the second post in our Greening ELT series, we would like to thank Brent Simmonds, Jennie Roloff Rothman and Mark Brierley from the Japan Association for Language Teaching for sharing a report outlining the history of the JALT Environmental Committee.

Greening ELT 2 : The JALT Environmental Committee

an image of a temperate forest in Osaks, with the sun shining in through the tops of the tall trees
temperate forest in Osaka, shared by Brent Simmonds

 JALT was formed in 1975. It has 32 regional chapters and 28 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and presently has a membership of 2,598 (April 2019). Most chapters hold six to eight meetings a year whilst several of the SIGs hold annual or bi-annual conferences. However, the two biggest conferences are the International, and the PanSIG Conferences which are usually held in November and May of each year.

The Environmental Committee was formed in 2013 following a letter to the JALT Board of Directors enquiring about the sustainability of the paper used in it’s main publication the Language Teacher (TLT). Subsequently it was agreed to use some recycled paper from 2014. The committee has been involved in both major conferences since 2015.

Current Environmental Committee chair  Jennie Roloff Rothman. 

Committee members  Mark Brierley, Brent Simmonds and Jamie Taylor

Time frame

2013  Letter to JALT BOD regarding paper followed by the establishment of the committee

2014 Tsukuba JALT International Conference:  Badge Collection points introduced

2015 Kobe City University PanSIG:  Environment officer appointed for the first time. We introduced an optional environmental levy to cover carbon offsets, and organised the bar at the Saturday event. We tried to use cups made from bamboo fibre but unfortunately, they were unsuitable.

2016 Nagoya JALT International Conference: Helped run the coffee stand using fair-trade coffee. We sourced biodegradable cups and sustainable stirrers. Unfortunately due to health regulations we had to use small milk cartons.

2017 Tsukuba JALT International Conference: Assumed responsibility for trash collection. We were able to sort trash and take it to a local recycling centre at a supermarket.

Green Jalter poster: The post conference survey included questions to help calculate the carbon footprint.

2018 Tokyo PanSIG: Set out environmental initiatives which included, travel mugs for plenary speakers, forgoing conference bags, handbook opt outs, asking poster presenters to use sustainable material and volunteer t-shirts made from recycled textiles.

2018 Shizuoka JALT International Conference  Calculated a more accurate carbon footprint.

Carbon footprint

We have tried to calculate the conferences carbon footprint using myclimate’s carbon footprint event calculator. We have gradually added information requests from conference  registration to help and conducted a post conference survey. Our calculations varied significantly as we have more statistics become available however, it has always increased. Our estimate for the 2018 International conference was nearly 800 tonnes. We have been able to gather more data from the PanSigs, from 2014-2018 the average carbon footprint was 0.25 tonnes of CO2 however the figure rose to 0.48 per person when a high proportion flew to our 2016 conference.

Environment levy/ Carbon offsetting

An Environment levy has been an option on the registration form at both conferences since 2015. We have used my climate transfer of money was overseen by a representative from TESOL International’s Social Responsibility Group. We were able to offset 23% of the 2016 PanSIG carbon footprint but in the three other years of the environmental levy only 12,12 and 6%. The ratio for the International conference is a lot lower.


1.Sourcing material

2.Each conference site has different rules and regulations


4. People request things at short notice

5. Environmental offset donations have been generally low

6. People seem keen and understand the need for action but once the conversation changes they forget the environment. For example, talking about the need to reduce water, then going to Costco to buy some because it’s cheaper.

7. It is easy to assume everyone is concerned about the environment and that initiatives will be carried forward. Conference organizers need reminding.

The following links may be helpful

Carbon Emissions per Country (World Bank)

Carbon Offset certification schemes

Green JALT blogspot

David Suzuki Foundation 

Environmental Initiatives at PanSIG 2018.


Carbon Offset report 2015

The Japan Association for Language Teaching(JALT)

My Climate

Greening PanSIG. The 2015 PanSIG Journal, pp. 23-30 by Brierley, Simmonds, Takeuchi, Hourdequin, & Pritchard

PanSIG carbon footprint


We’re very pleased to be able to share this article by Rebecca Place, media officer for TESOL-SPAIN (Spain’s national teachers’ association), where she shares details of some of the initiatives the association have been developing over the last few years. This is the first post in a series, Greening ELT, where we’ll be sharing information about how various organisations and associations are taking action to be more sustainable.

Greening ELT 1: TESOL-SPAIN goes green

There is a growing movement within the ELT community to green up our profession and TESOL-SPAIN is proud to be working towards raising awareness of this mission.

More than three years ago we published our Green Policy where we outlined some of the changes we have made in our organisation, and we continue to look for every opportunity to keep Green at the heart of our agenda.

Joining Forces

TESOL-SPAIN has recently joined like-minded social media platforms (ELT Footprint) and sister organisations (IATEFL and FECEI) in spreading the word among teachers, trainers and publishers about how we can all work together to make a difference.

Our Vice-President and 43rd annual Convention Coordinator, Annie Altamirano, has been particularly vocal on the ELT Footprint blog, which is dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint generated by our teacher-training conferences and giving conference organizers a forum to share their ideas.

And on the 21st June TESOL-SPAIN’s Online Resources Officer, Emily Adrianova, joined FECEI (the Spanish federation of language schools) and 9 important publishers in our sector, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge Assessment, Pearson Education, Macmillan, Richmond-Santillana, Trinity College London and Edebé-Express Publishing, to sign an agreement on reducing the use of plastic and waste at conferences.

an image from El Correo showing teachers, students and others taking part in a beach clean operation organised by The Language of the Sea project.

Less Waste, Less Plastic

In fact our Platinum Sponsor for the TESOL-SPAIN 2020 convention in Salamanca, Express Publishing, has just announced they will be sponsoring 500 glass and silicone waterbottles and 4 water fountains for the venue. The support and interest of all our sponsors is important to our members and is exactly the kind of thing that all conference-goers appreciate. The same goes for when, by collecting up the lanyards and plastic name-holders for our end-of-convention prize draw, we are taking one more step in the right direction.

Digital is Better

Since 2012 the ten annual issues of our members’ newsletter have been digital, and, as of this year, the publication of our biennial Convention Papers will also be digital. A mooted plan for the near future is to do away with our printed Convention Programme altogether, but this will depend on our members, their connectivity and their willingness to change what has always been an integral feature of a TESOL-SPAIN convention.

We have been actively encouraging our speakers to look for paper-free alternatives to session handouts for the last eight years, first by offering to distribute them to the convention participants on sponsored USBs, given out in our recyclable cotton convention bags, and more recently by uploading them to our webpage.

Another paper-heavy Convention convention – getting feedback – has also been greened up, and our last two national conventions have used SurveyMonkey and QR Codes instead, giving us quicker, more user-friendly results, and no waste paper into the bargain.

Aside from our national and regional events, one of our quarterly board meetings is now held via Zoom, bringing together the 12 board members living across Spain without having to board buses, planes or trains.

Follow Us!

After the summer break we will be announcing a competiton for our members to put forward ideas about what else we can do to save the planet whilst serving our profession – the best idea will be put into practice in our March 2020 convention, and the winner will receive a year’s free membership.

TESOL-SPAIN hopes all the steps we are taking will encourage others to follow in our footsteps and become not only educators of language but educators for life.

Rebecca Place

Media Officer


Guest post: Teacher training and its ELT footprint

We’re really pleased to be able to welcome Nicola Meldrum to our ELT Footprint blog. Nicola is based in Barcelona and is a freelance teacher trainer and materials writer. She is one of our founding members on the Facebook group and has been active in our on-going projects. In this post she talks about the Charter for a Greener Classroom and its use on training courses.

Teacher training and its ELT footprint

The ELT Footprint facebook group recently published a charter for a greener classroom. (Here is a link to the document and conversation that led to the final version). This charter, the shorter version of which you see below, asks us to be more thoughtful and active in how we reduce our carbon, paper and plastic footprint on the environment. As most English language teaching starts in the training classroom, let’s consider how this charter can develop positive attitudes, awareness and practices related from the get go. 

I think this charter could be used on day one of any teacher training course to guide and provoke action amongst trainee teachers. The image below is a poster version we can display in centres, near the photocopier, in training rooms and offices. It can be part of the introduction to the course input sessions and be referred to throughout the course by tutors and school staff. 

Trainee teachers are usually under a reasonable amount of stress and their environmental footprint may not always be at the forefront of their mind. It is up to teacher trainers to help create awareness and green habits as part of the support on the course. Hopefully, this will then create a greener approach to teaching English when the trainees go off and work in different contexts.

I’ve been a teacher trainer for over ten years now, working on Certificate and Diploma level courses. The course I manage at the moment is a blended Dip TESOL course so I have thought about how we could impact on trainees pre-service and in-sevice, during online and face-to-face courses to build a separate and complimentary teacher training charter. We need to be the example mentioned in number 7 above!

In the spirit of the ELT Footprint group, we would love to add your ideas to my lists below.  Training happens in a multitude of contexts, each with their own challenges relevant to how ELT impacts on our environment. Let’s build a training community where we step up and tackle climate problems to create a positive climate footprint in the ELT profession.

Face to face teacher training.


  • Practice what we preach and keep handouts to an absolute minimum, in fact let’s get rid of them entirely. 
  • Don’t give out shiny, branded non-recycled notebooks on day one but encourage trainees to take notes on a laptop, phone or tablet.  If trainees do like to take hand-written notes, encourage them to use one notebook and try to source recycled notebooks you can give them.Send them any important documents from input sessions electronically. 
  • Get teachers used to planning lessons which require no handouts for students. Build this into our training sessions on lesson planning and discuss it in lesson planning support sessions.
  • Make environmental impact part of the discussion when giving input sessions on using course books, ELT resources and event methodology. 
  • Include sessions on learner training and include a focus on note taking- can we help students be mindful of how much paper and other materials they use? Can we give them recycled paper to make notes on? There are some nice ideas on this in the existing charter for the classroom [link again].
  • Encourage discussion about our role as English language teachers and raising awareness of environmental issues. Maybe this can be an interesting part of culture training?


  • In my context, teachers come from all over the world to do part of their assessment on the Diploma. This in itself is problematic for obvious reasons. Things are changing as we move towards video assessments of lessons. However, the gateholders of qualifications such as Trinity and Cambridge still insist, as far as I know, on face-to-face assessments of final teaching observations with their examiners. As course providers, let’s put pressure on these institutions to change this. 
  • All of the above but from a more reflective perspective! When trainees come with existing experience, help them to question their practices and those of other teachers in their context. 
  • Open up discussions about the way the ELT profession impacts on the environment.

Online teacher training.

Teacher training and development is increasingly taking place online as platforms for video interaction improve. Teacher trainers can provide guidance, lead input sessions, observe lessons, discuss CPD, mentor and well just about anything via a mobile device or PC. This is a game changer in terms of cutting the training carbon footprint.

However, there is still room for an increased focus on the environment in online teacher training. It is not part of any criteria for teacher development or assessment as far as I know (you may be ahead of the game and have integrated discussion on this). I am not suggesting we start measuring a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom based on how eco friendly they are, but I do think we can make it part of how we manage online training. Once trainers have it in mind they should bring it into the discussion, they can do as they see fit so it’s relevant to their context. Here are some things that I do:

  • When giving feedback on lesson plans in our online Dip TESOL course, I often point out ways the lesson could cut back on printed resources. 
  • In our online classroom, we provide easy to embed articles so teachers don’t have to print anything. I have also started building a library of articles online using Google drive. 
  • We encourage teachers to sell books from the reading list to each other locally to avoid buying new ones (sorry authors).

Here are some more things I am considering for the future:

  • Do some learner training about how to organise learning digitally- there are lots of apps out there! This might cut down on printing and excessive note taking. 
  • Do some research with the trainees on what they think could reduce our environmental footprint. 

So, that is the long version of my own personal training charter. Below is a shorter, poster version.

  1. Help teachers question their practice.
  2. Reduce paper handouts on teacher training courses.
  3. If you give trainees notebooks, source recycled, locally printed options.
  4. Develop good practice in lesson planning support. 
  5. Make ELT’s environmental impact part of input sessions.
  6. Discuss a teacher’s role in raising environmental awareness.
  7. Put pressure on examination boards to go green.
  8. Make your courses blended and flexible to reduce travel.
  9. Encourage second hand book buying/sharing.
  10. Help teachers manage their learning digitally.

What would you add or change for your own training charter? We look forward to your ideas!

Presenting the Conference Survival Kit

In a conversation about a week ago, we were talking about conferences and footprints and environmental impact. It’s a topic that crops up again and again in the ELT Footprint group and in conversations that are going on around the edges of the group. In this particular conversation, the idea of a “conference survival kit” was suggested.  This would be a kind of zero waste kit, enabling conference-goers to reject one-use plastic and paper and reduce their footprint as much as possible in terms of generating waste (which in turn of course means generating less carbon both in the production of the one-use items we’re rejecting and in the subsequent waste-management processes).

So I collected together my own conference survival kit, based on what I took with me for the last IATEFL conference, for a quick pic. And this is what I came up with:

1 My “Mary Poppins” bag which is huge and carries everything plus my laptop and chargers.

2 A battered old steel water bottle.

3 A re-usable coffee cup (a Christmas present from a few years ago, made from bamboo and has a silicon top)

4 A small pot of dried fruit (nuts, cranberries, raisins) – you never know when you’ll need to snack!

5  Bees wax wraps for bringing snacks from home – fruit, sandwiches etc

6 A notebook (I always have one on the go and it goes everywhere with me)

7 Pencil (plus sharpener hidden away in the recesses of the bag somewhere)

I realized, as I brought everything together, that this is also my day-to-day teacher’s survival kit, the stuff that goes with me whenever I leave the house to give classes or run workshops. Yours is probably very similar.  And it made me think about the alternatives we’ve been discussing for promotional materials in conferences, things like reusable bottles and cups and recycled paper and pens and pencils. And I was wondering, do we actually need that stuff?  What if we’ve already got all the re-usable kit?  The day-to-day “survival” hardware?  Is there anything that conference sponsors can give us that would be genuinely useful – and not wasteful?

Maybe, for people who prefer not to have a Mary Poppins size handbag, it would be useful to have a re-usable cup and bottle. And maybe at the end of the event these could be returned and reused?  Maybe it is useful to get a notebook and pencil.  If so, maybe one small, notebook made from recycled paper is enough. Maybe a pencil and not a plastic pen?  Maybe let people choose what they want – take a cup, a bottle, a notebook, a pencil if you need it.  The same goes for the conference bag and the hard copy of the programme.  These could all be there, if you need them, but you could just as easily bring your own.  And the suggestion was that, really, we all could (and maybe should?).

And so it made me think that maybe there are other things (or services) that sponsors could offer that would give their brand visibility and, at the same time, be genuinely useful for delegates.  I started to think about what I might need or appreciate as a conference-goer.  Here are a couple of things, but I’m sure there are so many more:

1 a recharging station for phones and laptops with comfortable seats (This could be something sponsors are responsible for. They do it at the IATEFL conference and it’s really useful. The same space could also be used for sharing a few samples of materials and catalogues etc.)

2 water fountains, or jugs of water, easily available and visible (I guess this could be “branded”,  maybe sponsored by various different sponsors at different points throughout the venue)

3 fresh fruit that’s easy to pick up and go (Innovate ELT do this wonderfully at their conference) – things like apples or mandarins (I guess the fruit baskets could have the sponsors names on them)

And then I ran out of ideas and inspiration, and that’s what I’m  turning to you.  There must be so many things that sponsors can do (without supplying unnecessary “stuff” that just gets binned after a quick glance) that will make the conference experience more positive, memorable, enjoyable.   Please share your ideas here in the comments, or over on the Facebook group.

And if you have a photo of your own conference survival kit – please share!