EPA Teaching Guide Tells Non-English Speakers to Spy on Neighbors, Workplace

November 21, 2012 - 12:48 PM
Trash Test

Anousone Sudettanh, an employee of Waste Management Inc., collects garbage for the city of Seattle, Thursday, April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(CNSNews.com) – The Environmental Protection Agency has published a teaching guide designed to teach adult non-English speakers the language with a curriculum on environmentalism, including a homework assignment telling students to “observe” their neighbors, school and workplace to see if recycling is taking place.

In the “Teach English, Teach About the Environment,” under the heading “Civic Integration Activity” in the beginner’s level Lesson Plan One on recycling, the following questions are asked:

  1. Ask students to observe whether their neighbors recycle their waste.
  2. Ask students to observe whether the school or their workplace recycles waste material.
  3. Ask at the following class what they observed.

In the same lesson, the homework – or “home support activity” – is to calculate how much each student adds to the “waste stream.”

“Have students weigh themselves on their bathroom scale at home,” the guide states. “Then have them weigh themselves with the bag of household garbage thrown out each day. Multiply the weight difference by seven days, 30 days, and 365 days to get a sense of the amount of garbage generated by each student.”

The teaching guide focused on what the EPA calls the three Rs – recycle, reuse and reduce.

The introduction to the classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced non-English speaking student stated:

“As a teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), you know that your classes are extremely popular with immigrants and long-term visitors to the United States.

“These classes provide not only the opportunity to learn English but can serve as a portal through which many newcomers pass as a first step in integrating themselves into their new communities and American society,” the introduction stated.

A “Note to Instructors” advised them to teach vocabulary using “environmentally-related words.”

Other activities include having students bring “unwanted items” to class so they can exchange or sell them to other students.

“Explain how exchanging is a form of recycling,” an intermediate lesson plan states.

The teaching guide includes photos of things that can be recycled as well as things that harm the environment, such as a picture of products that use “excessive packaging.”

Flashcards are also included in the guide, with messages the students can memorize. Two examples are:

“Recycling glass uses 30 percent less energy” and “Americans average 4.5 pounds of waste a day. This equals 235 million tons a year.”