'GISIG and me. And you!' by Gergő Fekete

22nd July 2017

G I S I G. 5 letters, 12 committee members, 162 members, and a lot of enthusiastic followers. Even though our Global Issues SIG is considered small among IATEFL’s SIGs, we are very proud of what we represent and what we do. Which is what …? – you may ask.

GISIG provides a forum among ELT practitioners to stimulate awareness and understanding of global issues. It is for teachers who see themselves as educators in addition to teaching the language and who are keen to bring real-world issues into the classroom, instil a sense of social responsibility, and develop critical thinking skills.

I still remember reading these lines on the GISIG website 2 years ago when Margit Szesztay, former GISIG coordinator and my beloved methodology teacher at ELTE University in Budapest, familiarised our group with the SIG in one of our sessions. One of the first things I came across was the eLesson Inspirations section, which includes lessons built around short videos to make students think and explore real-world issues while also learning English. I tried many of the activities with my students myself, such as the one designed for ‘The Social Experiment’, a video about high school students trying to give up their virtual identities for a week, and my other favourite: ‘One-minute meditation’. Did you know that you can make a meaningful change to your state of mind in a fraction of a second?

So, I got really excited, so much so that actually I decided to design my own eLesson unit on bullying. Then, after writing a workshop summary and a very short review of Ricardo Sampedro and Susan Hillyard’s Global Issues, Margit asked me if I wanted to join the SIG as Social Media Coordinator. And why would I have missed this great opportunity? There is so much I can learn about, share, try out, and reflect on. To give you a taste, let’s have a closer look at what exactly we offer.

  • Going back to the eLesson units… have you got a catchy short video in mind that deals with a global issue, is thought-provoking, and you think would work well in your lesson? Do let us know and send us your ideas following these guidelines. We look forward to posting your eLesson on our website.
  • We would also like to support teachers in difficult circumstances, e.g. teachers with no resources or with very large classes in refugee camps. Read 3 short articles about teaching in refugee camps in our June 2016 Newsletter.
  • Every year, we organise a month-long online event called the Issues Month. The idea behind the Issues Month is to share lessons and strategies that raise awareness in your classes and your schools about content that matters. Do browse our archives on the previous Issues Months centring on Gender issues (2016), War and Peace (2015), Home and Shelter (2014), and Food issues (2013). Stay tuned for our next Issues Month in October 2017!
  • Our Calendar of Special Days is also there for teachers all year round. In each month, we feature at least one special day that helps you deal with an issue of global significance as well as a language point. If you wish to attend our IATEFL Pre-Conference Event in 2018, let me invite you to take part in our competition and submit a lesson plan about a special day to add to our website collection. Deadline: August 31, 2017.

As a beginner teacher, looking at the list above, I felt very lucky, as I got an amazing number of ready-to-use ideas that helped me a lot while doing my teaching practice. Now, at the end of my M.A. programme, I even had the chance to present my global issues related thesis on the film ‘Girl Rising’ at the APPI Conference in Lisbon under the auspices of GISIG with 3 wonderful colleagues: Linda Ruas, Stella Smyth, and Margarita Kosior. This, along with all the points mentioned in Clare Maas’ 4 Cs of IATEFL membership blog post, helped me become even more certain that the English language teaching profession and community is one of a kind: it’s supportive, positive, inclusive, and welcoming.

Well, as my word count limit is slowly but surely coming to an end, it’s time I put the question: is it clear WHY global issues? Should you need some more information, please have a look out our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Oh, and read the book of one of our Joint Coordinators, Linda Ruas, that asks the exact same question and is now hot off the press.

Looking forward to attending my first annual IATEFL conference, I hope to see you in Brighton in 2018.








Gergő Fekete is a teacher of English and German in Budapest, Hungary, and also the Social Media Coordinator of IATEFL’s Global Issues SIG. After studying in the U.S. and Germany and completing an M.A. in Hungary, he is now excited about throwing himself into full-time teaching in Budapest and making the best use of his recently completed CELTA to teach in other countries, too.