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Welcome! This site is for students to practice their English and keep up to date with environmental issues.

TEN MINUTES OF ENGLISH A DAY!
You can find a mixture of reading, crosswords, videos and short English lessons: these will normally be vocabulary, but I may also treat you to some grammar!

There are now over 260 lessons on this blog. Look through the Blog archive, Post labels and Popular Posts to find what you want.

If you want to print a lesson, click on the lesson title and then look for the Print Friendly icon.

''Let nature be your teacher''
William Wordsworth, poet, 1770-1850

''Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift''
Albert Einstein, physicist, 1879-1955

''... to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed''
P.M. Roget, lexicographer, 1779-1869

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Over-tourism in Krkonoše mountains

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2


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Over-tourism a growing problem in Krkonoše mountains
Here is an interesting interview (10 minutes) on Radio Prague International about the problems associated with tourism in Krkonoše National Park in the Czech Republic.
Listen to it, then answer the following questions:
(The text of the interview is also available on the website, but try to do it just by listening first!)

1) Who is Jakub Kašpar?
2) How many people visit the top of Sněžka every year?
3) Do you have to pay to visit Krkonoše National Park?
4) In a survey, how many people thought it was a good idea to have entrance fees (on the Czech side)?
5) How many national parks are there in the Czech Republic?


Bonus question - how high is Sněžka? 

Answers below!



1) He is Deputy-head of Krkonoše National Park
2) 500 0000 / half a million (from the Czech side)
3) Not from the Czech side
4) 60% / sixty per cent
5) Four

Bonus question - Sněžka is 1603.3 m (5260 ft)

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

I want to plant a million trees

Level: Intermediate / B1


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I want to plant a million trees
Here is a short video (2 minutes) about a Canadian who is planting thousands of trees in the United Kingdom.
Watch it, then answer the following questions:

1) How many trees can Shelby plant in a day*?
2) How many trees has she planted so far?
3) How many trees does the UK government want to plant?
4) What time does she start planting?
5) How much is Shelby paid per tree?

Bonus question - what are the tallest trees in the world? (You may have to do some extra research for this question!)

*This question has changed (sorry, I put in a year originally)

Answers below!




1) 4000
2) Half a million
3) An extra 30 million per year
4) 07:30, seven thirty in the morning, 7:30 am
5) 7p (seven pence)


Bonus question - coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) 115.92m

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Restoring seagrass meadows

Level: Intermediate / B1


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Restoring seagrass meadows
Here is a short video (2 minutes) about a seagrass restoration project in Wales.
Watch it, then answer the following questions:

1) Where does Dr Unsworth work?
2) How many estuaries have lost seagrass?
3) What are the reasons for this?
4) How big an area are they planting in the video?
5) How many volunteers from schools helped with the project?

Bonus question - what do we call the animal that you can see in the video at 0:19 to 0:21?



Answers below

1) Swansea University
2) 50%
3) Damaged water quality and the coast (through coastal development)
4) 2 ha (two hectares)
5) Nearly 2000


Bonus question: seahorse

Friday, 14 February 2020

Grammar lesson 23: Future tenses - climate change

Level: pre-intermediate / A2


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Time for another grammar lesson!
Back to one of our favourites again - tenses!


A: Put the verbs in brackets in the right future form (will/shall + infinitive, going to or present continuous). Sometimes more than one form is possible.

1) A: It’s freezing in here! B:             shall     I          close                the window? (close)
2) The sky is really clear. I’m sure it                                      a lovely day tomorrow. (be)
3) A: Do you think                                                       while we’re in London? (rain)
B: Maybe. I                                     my umbrella just in case. (take)
4) A:                                         we                                           lunch in the garden? (have)
B: Yes, I                                           the table. (lay)
5) A: What time                                   you                              ? (leave)
B: In ten minutes. I’m sure there                            too much traffic (not be), but I                        slowly. (drive)

B: Read these predictions about climate change. Complete them with a word from the list below:

Storm clouds on the horizon
become            closed down                doubled           having (x2)            melted                   risen (x3)                 suffering

Climate change is now something that we cannot close our eyes to, and governments all over the world have finally realized that they have to sit up and take notice. These are some of the things that many scientists predict will happen if we carry on polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide emissions.
Short term: by the year 2050
  • More than a third of the world’s plant and animal species will have (1)       become            extinct.
  • The ice in the Arctic Sea will melt every summer, causing the extinction of polar bears, and many glaciers will have (2)                                      completely.
  • 50% of the world’s ski resorts will have (3)                                       due to lack of snow.
Mid-term: by the year 2100
  • Sea levels will have (4)                                               by between 16cm and 18cm, making low-lying island like the Maldives no longer habitable.
  • The number of serious coastal storms and tsunamis will have (5)                                         .
  • Northern European cities will be (6)                                      50 days a year of heat waves when temperatures are over 30ºC (now it is only 6-9 days).
Long term: by the year 3000
  • Temperatures will have (7)                             by about 15 ºC.
  • Sea levels will have (8)                                               by more than 11 metres, flooding large areas of land and many major cities.
  • One third of the world will be (9)                                           from extreme droughts, and half the world will be (10)                                          moderate droughts. Tens of millions of Africans will have to emigrate.
Adapted from New English File Upper-intermediate OUP



Answers below!

A 
1) A: It’s freezing in here! B: shall I close the window? (close)
2) The sky is really clear. I’m sure it  it is going to be a lovely day tomorrow. (be)
3) A: Do you think it will rain / it is going to rain while we’re in London? (rain)
B: Maybe. I am going to take my umbrella just in case. (take)
4) A: shall we have lunch in the garden? (have)
B: Yes, I will the table. (lay)
5) A: What time are you going to leave? (leave)

B: In ten minutes. I’m sure there won’t be too much traffic (not be), but I will drive  slowly. (drive)

B
Short term: by the year 2050
  • More than a third of the world’s plant and animal species will have (1)become extinct.
  • The ice in the Arctic Sea will melt every summer, causing the extinction of polar bears, and many glaciers will have (2) melted completely.
  • 50% of the world’s ski resorts will have (3) closed down due to lack of snow.
 Mid-term: by the year 2100
  • Sea levels will have (4) risen by between 16cm and 18cm, making low-lying island like the Maldives no longer habitable.
  • The number of serious coastal storms and tsunamis will have (5) doubled.
  • Northern European cities will be (6) having 50 days a year of heat waves when temperatures are over 30ºC (now it is only 6-9 days).
Long term: by the year 3000
  • Temperatures will have (7) risen by about 15 ºC.
  • Sea levels will have (8) risen by more than 11 metres, flooding large areas of land and many major cities.
  • One third of the world will be (9) suffering from extreme droughts, and half the world will be (10) having moderate droughts. Tens of millions of Africans will have to emigrate. 
Adapted from New English File Upper-intermediate OUP

Thursday, 6 February 2020

White winters in Czechia to become increasingly rare

Level: Intermediate / B1


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White winters in Czechia to become increasingly rare
Here is a short listening (3 minutes) from Radio Prague about how climate change is affecting winters in the Czech Republic.
Have a listen, then answer the following questions:

1) What has the temperature in the Czech Republic in recent days?
2) When was the last really cold winter in the Czech Republic?
3) What was the following winter like?
4) How much has traditional winter weather dropped by in the last 20 years?
5) Why is snow so important in the lowlands?

Bonus question - how high is the highest peak in the Czech Republic? (You will have to do a bit of extra research for this one!)



Answers below!


1) Well above ten degrees Celcius
2) 2006
3) One of the warmest ever recorded
4) Abour 35%
5) It replenished groundwater and protects crops against frost


Bonus question:
Sněžka is 1603 m (5259 ft)

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Grammar lesson 22: Future tenses - Ecological disaster

Level: Intermediate / B1


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Time for another grammar lesson!
Back to one of our favourites - tenses!



Put the verbs in brackets into the correct future form:

Professor Robert Tawnley, Institute of Ecological Research:
‘‘I’m not too optimistic about the future. My main worry is the greenhouse effect.
The Earth is heating up and at current rates the sea level (1) will have risen (rise) by about 20 centimetres by the end of the 21st century.
It might not seem like much but it (2)                              (have) devastating effects.
Large parts of the Indian sub-continent (3)                                              (be) under water during the monsoon season – an area that already suffers from famine.
We have an observation centre in Antarctica and we (4)                                                             (watch) the ice-caps carefully over the next decade.
From what I have seen so far it’s clear that the ice (5)                                                                (continue) to melt at an accelerating rate in the future.
And the destruction of the rain forests doesn’t help. By 2035 over 95 % of the rainforest in South East Asia (6)                                                                 (lose)
I (7)                                               (fly) out to Brazil next month to chair a conference on this very subject and we (8)                                                                         (discuss) the loss of the natural habitat in the Amazon region.

If we want the Earth to survive we (9)                                         (do) something about it soon.’’

Answers below!




‘‘I’m not too optimistic about the future. My main worry is the greenhouse effect.
The Earth is heating up and at current rates the sea level (1) will have risen (rise) by about 20 centimetres by the end of the 21st century.
It might not seem like much but it (2)     will have          (have) devastating effects.
Large parts of the Indian sub-continent (3)         will be             (be) under water during the monsoon season – an area that already suffers from famine.
We have an observation centre in Antarctica and we (4)            will be watching          (watch) the ice-caps carefully over the next decade.
From what I have seen so far it’s clear that the ice (5)   will continue                (continue) to melt at an accelerating rate in the future.
And the destruction of the rain forests doesn’t help. By 2035 over 95 % of the rainforest in South East Asia (6)    will be lost / will have been lost                      (lose)
I (7)          am flying                     (fly) out to Brazil next month to chair a conference on this very subject and we (8)            will discuss / will be discussing          (discuss) the loss of the natural habitat in the Amazon region.
If we want the Earth to survive we (9)    (will) have to do          (do) something about it soon.’’

Climate change explained

Level: Intermediate / B1


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Many people are saying that 2020 is crucial for climate change action. Why is that?

Watch this excellent BBC video * (3 minutes) about it and answer the following questions:

1) What three extreme events are mentioned early in the video?
2) What are fossil fuels? (Three examples given in the video.)
3) How much higher is the Earth's temperature than it was in pre-industrial times?
4) How much Arctic sea ice has been lost since the late-seventies?
5) Where and when is the next climate conference?

Bonus question - which was the warmest year on record? (You will have to do a bit of extra research for this one!)

And if you want to practice your grammar with a climate change theme, please have a look at grammar lesson 22: Future tenses - ecological disaster

* apologies for the link not working properly on the original post

Answers below!



1) Fires in Australia, floods in Indonesia, and record temperatures in Europe.
2) Coal, oil, gas.
3) 1.1 degrees
4) Half (of the volume)
5) Glasgow, 9-19 November 2020.

Bonus question: 2016 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record#Warmest_years)