SIG Focus: Global Issues in Language Education SIG

The Global Issues in Language Education (GILE) SIG is one of JALT’s oldest special interest groups, with a proud history of 25 years of research, education, and action. Its origins go back to a JALT 1988 workshop entitled “English for Unselfish Purposes” and a follow-up colloquium at JALT 1989 on the theme of “Global Issues and Language Education.” GILE was officially established in June 1991, becoming the world’s first interest group for foreign language teachers dealing with global education. Since then, similar groups have been established by JALT affiliate organizations, including the “Social Responsibility Interest Section” (SR-IS) within US-based TESOL and a “Global Issues” GI-SIG in the UK-based IATEFL.

GILE members are classroom teachers, program directors, textbook publishers, and materials writers who share an interest in integrating world problems, global awareness, social responsibility, and world citizenship into content-based language teaching. The SIG works to enable students to acquire and use a foreign language while empowering them with the knowledge, skills, and commitment needed to solve global problems. GILE thus has a double commitment to excellence in language education and to “teaching for a better world.”

The official objectives of the SIG are: 

  • to promote the integration of global issues, global awareness, and social responsibility into foreign-language teaching
  • to promote networking and mutual support among educators dealing with global issues in language teaching, and 
  • to promote awareness among language teachers of important developments in global education, and the related fields of environmental education, human rights education, peace education, and development education.

The SIG publishes the Global Issues in Language Education Newsletter, a 24-page quarterly newsletter containing a wealth of information—from teaching ideas on areas such as human rights and international key-pal programs to global education conference reports and peace education activities for future classes. In addition, GILE runs an active Facebook page and Twitter account. We also regularly sponsor experts from around the world for workshops, lectures, and conferences. We bring them to Japan to introduce language teachers to approaches, methods and materials linked to global issues and global education. These have included national lecture tours by Russian peace educators, Australian conflict resolution experts, Palestinian human rights activists, environmental education experts from Canada and Singapore, as well as UNESCO Linguapax experts from Germany and Spain.

The GILE annual fall Peace as a Global Language (PGL) conference brings together teachers, academics, activists, students, and NGOs from Japan and overseas for a stimulating weekend of talks, events, and presentations with a focus on the themes of language, education and peace. PGL, conceived by Japan-based peace activists and language educators in the year following the 9-11 terrorist attacks of 2001, held its first conference in Tokyo in 2002. Since then, it has been held in locations all over Japan. This year, the conference celebrates its 14th anniversary by going global! PGL 2015 will be hosted by The Management University of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya on November 5 and 6. The 2015 PGL Organizing Committee invites scholars, teachers, peace activists, students and members of the community interested in these issues and more to join us for discussion, debate, and contemplation. 

GILE SIG and the Peace as a Global Education conference it sponsors offer language educators an exciting chance to add an international dimension to their teaching. All those interested in helping to organize or contribute to GILE or the PGL conference are asked to contact us via our website: <>.