Transport Issues Month 2019

This October we are focusing on the issues around transportation. We chose this topic for several reasons:

  • it is a core part of most course books so related global issues can be easily integrated into the curriculum
  • it can be approached in many different countries and contexts, from the poorest villages of Africa to the flourishing mega-cities of Western-Europe
  • it is part of our lives and includes lots of topic areas where our students can actually make a difference as consumers and global citizens
  • it is intrinsically linked to the climate crisis and the climate movements of 2019
  • it is a specific yet diverse topic with lots of opportunities for teachers to embrace global issues in the classroom while also teaching relevant vocabulary to their students

How to contribute

Contributing is super easy:

  • Tweet relevant materials with the hashtag #issuesmonth
  • Send us materials directly via our Facebook Page
  • You can also use the comment section down below on this page to send us relevant links to resources you find useful
  • Alternatively, you can e-mail us with materials you would like to share with the community and we can upload them to this website for everyone to use. Sharing is Caring!

We look forward to all the wonderful materials you are going to share with the world!

Here are some of the issues you could address, but we are sure there are a lot more.

Lots of Love,
The GISIG Committee

23 Responses to Transport Issues Month 2019

  1. Bill Templer September 30, 2019 at 9:06 pm #

    Many students have a bike. Some teachers do, most did once.

    Here an excellent lesson B1 level and above on bicycles in everyday life from our colleague Owain: It also introduces students to WORLD BICYCLE DAY, which is marked on June 3.

    Students, colleagues can talk about about their own biking experiences, around town or even into the countryside. A good, pollution-free and healthy alternative for getting around. I once bicycled from Muenster in northern Germany where I studied, far across country all the way into Holland and to the city of Leiden. The Netherlands a nation where bikes are everywhere.

  2. Bill Templer October 1, 2019 at 10:14 am #

    This another lesson plan on winter cycling from Owain. As he notes: “Is it a cold February with you? Perhaps you still walk or cycle to school or work, or maybe you opt for a car or the bus. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere hot, then hopefully your bicycle is ready to go!
    In recognition of everyone who keeps cycling or walking to work or school this winter, why not teach this lesson based around a video from Sustrans, a UK organisation that promotes non-motorised eco-friendly transport?”


  3. Bill Templer October 6, 2019 at 9:39 am #

    ***The demand for free public transport is spreading across many countries, this a useful site: Most Green parties support some such notion in transformed transit policy to cut down on pollution and also recognize transport locally as a human right that should be free, no cost, supplied by society to one and all.

    ***This on Wikipedia as an introduction/overview:

    ***Two excellent detailed articles exploring the rationale for free public transport – arguments pro & con — will interest teachers, students at B2/C1 level: (1) (2) For the UK in particular, with a number of aspects addressed:

    ***An article on free public transport from Poland: Poland has a number of cities that have introduced such modes of transit in the name of social equity and well as fostering less reliance on private cars.

    ***Here a panel discussion from Canada on free public transit: Just mobility and urban planning The concept of ‘mobility justice’

    ***Judith Dellheim (Berlin), here a podcast: She has edited a book on Free Public Transit, many articles there from a great range of countries:

    *** When I first came to Bulgaria in 1991 public transport was still largely demonetized, cost 5 or 6 stotinki (cents), as it had for decades under socialism. Now 20x that and more for a local bus in most towns. But you can get a monthly pass for unlimited travel, not too expensive. Ditto a special pass for pensioners. At least one town in Bulgaria has introduced absolutely free public transport for one and all.

    *** Naresuan Univ. in northwestern Thailand outside the small city of Phitsanulok has a >cost-free electric bus system< on its large campus that is excellent and non-polluting. Anyone can ride — students, staff, visitors to campus, no questions asked.

    ***TEACHER TRANSPORT AS A ISSUE: How many teachers spend extensive time commuting — unpaid hours, to and from their work? I know teachers who commute ca. 80-90 min. each way to a state school 50+ km away. Truly exhausting, over dangerous roads. Teachers should receive a cash bonus for such commuting time and its tensions.

    • Bill Templer October 21, 2019 at 11:28 am #

      Free Public Transit is Key to a Green New Deal: Free Transit for Toronto

      Many ideas from Herbert Rosenfeld about building a free and accessible public transit system in Toronto, Canada’s largest city some 2,700,000+ in Toronto and nearly six million in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). A useful read in connection with climate change issues and doable paths forward.

  4. Bill Templer October 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm #

    Here an excellent lesson plan centered on RAIL TRAVEL, using trains instead of planes for longer-distant travel, eco-tourism. From our colleague Owain Llewellyn:

    Electric trains are certainly less polluting than most buses or motor cars, and accommodate even many scores of passengers at lower fares. I know Bulgarians who traveled all over the socialist bloc by train some decades ago, and loved it. Some of them have in fact never been in a plane.

    The LP also introduced a site to explore centered on promoting alternative travel by rail.

  5. Gergő Fekete October 9, 2019 at 4:17 am #

    “Landlocked by Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg has more than 400,000 commuters travelling in to work from neighboring countries. This year, Luxembourg started offering free transportation to everyone under the age of 20. Secondary school students have also been able to ride free shuttles between school and home. Luxembourg currently has the highest number of cars for its population in the European Union.”

    • Bill Templer October 9, 2019 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks to colleague Gergő for noting this article. The article states: >Luxembourg is set to become the world’s first country to make all of its public transportation free. The newly re-elected prime minister Xavier Bettel and the coalition government have announced that they will lift all fares on trains, trams and buses next summer. Taking aim at long commutes and the country’s carbon footprint, the new move hopes to alleviate some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.<

      That is a significant move, in a tiny country, the wealthiest in terms of per capita income in the EU. But even cities with many poor in a spectrum of countries can consider such a move. Transit social justice. It is doable. The importance here is that this move is being considered for an entire nation-state, however small in relative size.

      • Bill Templer October 9, 2019 at 10:10 am #

        Regarding pupils/students now going cost-free up to age 20 in Luxembourg, many local transit lines around the world have a whole set of reductions for various categories of passengers.

        That is a partial ‘reform’ on the possible road to free transit. Here for the Sofia/Bulgaria transit system (in English): The cost is given in Bulgaria levs, one lev = ca. half a Euro. Maybe where you live and work something similar is operative.

        You can see that pensioners (age 68+), people with disabilities of any age, pupils at schools, university students — all have discount options with a special pass. The normal single ride in Sofia now is 1.60 lev That is about 75 cents in Euro equivalent. A bus ticket in socialist times was for decades in all Bulgarian towns 5 or 6 stotinki (1 lev = 100 stotinki), so the fare is about 26x more costly today in Sofia.

  6. Bill Templer October 12, 2019 at 10:00 pm #

    Below a brief lesson link on ‘food miles’ by our colleague Aleksandra Zaparucha, introduced in her presentation at the Liverpool IATEFL conference April 2019, and published in GISIG IATEFL Newsletter, #40, August 2019. It can get your students thinking about how far food is being transported, at what cost, with what carbon footprint may be involved. The underlying alternative is more locally produced food, deglobalizing the now huge global food market. Reducing our ‘foodprint’.

    Aleksandra Zaparucha, How to extend your coursebook to Global Issues using CLIL methodology From GISIG Newsletter #40 July 2019, pp. 28-35
    EXTRACT: Sample lesson Two: Food (pp. 30-32)

  7. Gergő Fekete October 14, 2019 at 4:16 am #

    Still on public transportation: a short but interesting TED talk on how we’ve come to use the underground maps we have today:

    • Bill Templer October 14, 2019 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks, Gergő. One of my own exciting repeated childhood transit experiences was riding the Chicago “L,” the electric elevated and subway transit system that is below and above ground. Speeding through underground mysterious tunnels in part and all the rest.
      It was the main low-cost, fairly low-pollution transit option to travel Chicago’s great distances to ‘downtown,’ the city center. And still is. $2.25 for a ticket that can be a quite long trip, with much to see from its high elevated track routes. Much of the “L” is above ground. But I esp. remember as a very small child with my mom plummeting down into the tunneled darkness, heading for the “Loop,” the Chicago city center.
      Watch this excellent brief video: And here other videos galore on the “L”: Students can explore. Of course, the trains make quite some noise passing, like most trains anywhere — which people who live near the tracks have to get used to.
      Do you have something similar in a city you know well?

  8. Gergő Fekete October 16, 2019 at 4:10 am #

    Environmental Issues Lesson Plans for English Language Teachers, including e.g. one on the impact of transportation on air quality:

    • Bill Templer October 16, 2019 at 6:47 pm #

      Thanks again, Gergő Nice source for LPs.

      Here lesson plans on the environment and other resources from the Zinn Education Project in the US:

      As mentioned, colleague Owain Llewellyn has a site with a range of lesson plans relevant to the environment:

      From Canada, a very engaging scientifically solid ANIMATED VIDEO for students (10 min.): What you can do about climate change: It also deals with the question of transport and its carbon fallout. Well worth building a lesson around for students at mid-intermediate level and above.
      From min. 5:30 it speaks about transportation, esp. connected with tourism. And encourages people to pursue ‘staycations’ instead of a more distant vacation. Students can discuss what a ‘staycation’ might be near where they live.

  9. Bill Templer October 17, 2019 at 10:14 am #

    Here a brilliant interview Oct 16 in the UK with environmental activist and writer Naomi Klein. Well worth watching, sharing with colleagues. Discussing even excerpts with students. Naomi addresses many issues and has a systemic view of what has to change in the economy and society and culture: Much comment on climate change, carbon footprint. Also a bit on the need for superb mass transit systems to offset individual cars and their excessive use.

    XR today Oct 17 in the London underground has caused a striking clash between protesters and commuters, in the very heart of the city’s transit system.

    XR specifically targets transport disruption to bring home its message about the need for radical immediate change to reduce carbon emissions in people’s individual everyday lifestyles. Here an article on XR ‘sweeping the world’:

  10. Bill Templer October 20, 2019 at 6:15 pm #

    This on our FB page: take a look from colleague Hind Elyas

  11. Bill Templer October 24, 2019 at 6:12 am #


    Ozzie Zehner, GREEN ILLUSIONS: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism(U Nebraska Press 2012, 437 pp.)

    A book critical in depth of many notions of alternative energy, including electric and hybrid cars, and ideas about other alternatives. Zehner’s ideas go to the heart of changing how we have organized transport, urban concentrations and their sprawl, our neighborhoods and death-laden life styles, how energy is drastically wasted.
    For a short overview, read this:
    Introduction: Unraveling the Spectacle (pp. xv-xx)
    Read his chap. 14 Asking Questions (pp. 332-342)
    and his Epilogue: A Grander Narrative? (343-348)

    There is an excellent Index which can give you an idea of what the books explores. And how much is relevant to questions about transport and our whole addiction to energy. Transport is mentioned 53x Zehner discusses electric cars and hybrids in some depth. Walking and biking is central to his argument for alternatives in transforming life styles. Honda today (24 Oct. 2019) announced it is moving toward that as exclusive production focus by 2023.
    In any case, here is a book that could be seriously pondered, discussed and is cost-free online.

     Colleagues teaching Academic English could suggest students all get the book ad then write on some section or chapter, a good essay focus..

    Teachers need to read (and discuss) something serious on climate change and alternative energy. Zehner’s book provides that. It envisions a much more walking-biking urban environment, and major other changes in politics and society.

  12. Gergő Fekete October 28, 2019 at 7:32 pm #

    “For a long time, planes have been much blamed for greenhouse emissions and global warming. For many years, they were considered the most polluting way of transportation. Trains, buses, and even cars – all vehicles were said to perform better than planes. But is this “common sense” still true nowadays?”

  13. Bill Templer October 30, 2019 at 9:25 am #

    Perhaps needless to say, military transport and its carbon impact are gargantuan.

    In striking particular, the carbon fallout of the US military in its global expanse is staggering, and many activists don’t focus on this disconcerting reality of geomilitary dominance. Its contribution to global warming and of course $-cost for taxpayers.

    Here an eye-opening compact analysis: ‘Flying above the clouds: the U.S. military and climate change’ An imperial carbon footprint. A recent study notes: the US “Department of Defense is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world.”
    As the article stresses: “ U.S. military spending is greater than the total military spending of the next seven countries combined: China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and Germany. The budget of the Department of Defense alone commands more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending each year.”

    Incredible but true. Campaigners around issues of carbon footprint (& bootprint!) need to widen the prism to confront this, raising sharper consciousness for starters. It is the ‘armor-plated elephant’ in the room of our planetary carbon crisis.

  14. Bill Templer October 31, 2019 at 4:55 pm #

    Meanwhile, in the broader context of relentless climate change impacting on people’s everyday lives:
    A number of our colleagues in California are facing incredible disruption to their lives, even if distant from the inferno of wildfires. Many towns remain without tap water and no electricity now for days [!]. Lots of folks evacuated, including in my brother’s immediate family. The poor, the aged, those with disabilities, the many undocumented in the Latino/a community are especially hard-hit. Here a penetrating discussion from Democracy Now! on the politics of these wildfires and their fallout:

    A concise, incisive article by a major climate scientist, Richard Somerville: ‘Are the California wildfires and climate change linked?’ He thinks definitely. Ask your intermediate-level students to read the article, its points clear. He summarizes the findings of a major scientific report in sixty brief words, students can note.

  15. Bill Templer November 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm #

    Planes or Cars — Which Means of Transport Pollutes the Most? This was also placed on GISIG FB site

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