Global Education / Education for International Understanding Special Interest Group (SIG)
This group aims to develop materials and methodologies to promote international understanding through the learning of English. We share our experiences, good materials and practices from time to time and conduct outreach activities such as dispatching a study tour to the Philippines. This group has a similar mode of operation to the SIG on Global Issues in Language Learning of JALT (Japan Association of Language Teachers). The foundation of education for international understanding can be traced to the “Recommendation concerning education for international understanding, co-operation and peace education relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms” (UNESCO:1974). This initiative refers to the teaching of relevant global issues across the school curriculum.
We value specific materials concerning social issues that have been infused into English textbooks. These materials are frequently relevant to our own lives and reflect universal values. Recent texts of this nature include topics that focus on the environment, human rights and peace, such as the speeches of Martin Luther King, the diary of Anne Frank, the diary of Helen Keller, movies by Charlie Chaplin and so on. We gather good materials from movies and other resources developed by NGOs. Specific English media such as newspaper articles and TV programmes are also used as teaching materials. We recognize that it is necessary to establish a balance between other types of resources developed by NGOs or those drawn from alternative media sources. This stems from our belief that media literacy education represents an important part of global education.
We hold that the participatory method of teaching is highly important and that content-based teaching should not be just teaching about content. Consequently, if the specific content of a lesson focuses on peace, then the classroom should be a peaceful place. Recent trends in the communicative approach to English teaching encourage students to use English, and emphasize that communication amongst students should be interactive. In this manner, true communication can be achieved more holistically and can deepen thinking amongst students. Since integration facilitates better communication in the learning context, then communication should be considered together with its contents, rather than with just the situation and function of the language use. Topics and contents of teaching materials are also significant issues to be designed. These issues are processed by means of communication amongst students and with cooperation comes awareness. It is hoped that this teaching strategy will lead to collaborative advocacy and social action on the part of students.
The United Nations declared the year 2000 to be 'the international year of the culture of peace'. It is held that a world without war may prevail through the construction of a positive culture of peace. Intercultural communication to prevent conflicts among people is key to achieving this goal. We believe that promoting communication among people in the world and building solidarity for the creation of a better future is the fundamental task of English teaching. We can strengthen our ability to identify problems within communities and exchange opinions and ideas with people in the wider world through networking in the English language.
We are in the process of extending our network with NGOs and others who are working for peace. For example, Peace Boat is an active study group for young people which hires a ship to travel around the world to study global issues. The activities of NGOs inspire young people to become more active in their own lives. We believe that teachers, students and citizens must work together through English learning to facilitate positive change. There is great potential in English teaching to promote reconnection and develop international solidarity among people in the world. To work towards this goal, the perspectives offered by global education can enrich us with great inspiration.