EU Code Week and ELT

EU Code Week (6th - 21st October) is a grassroots initiative which aims to bring coding and digital literacy to everybody in a fun and engaging way.

Learning to code helps us to make sense of the rapidly changing world around us, expand our understanding of how technology works, and develop skills and capabilities in order to explore new ideas and innovate.

Coding and 21st century learning

Coders or programmers are people who write the programmes behind everything we see and do on a computer. Most of our students spend several hours playing online games, but few know how to create a game. Learning to code encourages students to become creators, not just consumers of the technology they use, in other words it teaches them to use their personal devices productively rather than distractingly.

When children or adults learn to code, it helps them to develop essential skills such as problem solving, logic and critical thinking. Through coding, we realize that there’s often more than one way to solve a problem, and that simpler and more efficient solutions are often better. Analysing and discussing the processes of critical thinking and problem solving can result in meaningful language practice. More specifically coding:
  • builds problem-solving skills and logical thinking
  • opens new avenues to creativity
  • gives students a foundation for success in 21st century careers
  • reinforces our own curriculum through a different lens
  • helps students understand how their own technology works
  • opens their eyes to potential careers
(Vance, S. & Verschoor, J. 2017)

Coding and English language teaching

This paradigm applies across all aspects of the curriculum, yet how does it apply to English teaching? Coding is a language with its own vocabulary, that mirrors in many ways the writing process so it can help teach our students planning and proofreading in a more direct and fun way. A popular tool of choice for teachers wishing to integrate coding to this end is Scratch, a free object-oriented programming language developed at MIT.

Codecademy courses are good for improving reading and comprehension skills because, basically, you read and follow instructions, which are all written in English. You can also practice writing skills by joining the discussions in the forums. As Smolčec, Smolčec, and Stevens (2014) discovered regarding using Minecraft in their language teaching, you learn the language effortlessly when the other thing you are trying to learn has a wealth of materials and tutorials written about it in English. offers a wealth of information, ideas and resourses.

So what do you think? Are you going to try coding in your classroom?


Smolčec, M., Smolčec, F. & Stevens, V. (2014). Using Minecraft for learning English. TESL-EJ, 18(2),1-15. Available:

Vance, S. & Verschoor, J. (2017). Coding and English Language Teaching. TESL-EJ, 21(2),1-15. Available: