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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 230 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

Monday, 28 March 2016

London's giant floating solar farm

Level: intermediate B1

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Europe's biggest solar farm has started generating electricity. Watch this short (three-minute) BBC video about it and then answer the following questions:


1) How long did it take to build the solar farm?
2) The energy produced is roughly the equivalent of how many homes?
3) According to Angus Berry, Thames Water are committed to increase their use of renewables to how much of their demand by 2020?
4) How many roofs in the UK have solar panels?
5) How much of the UK's electricity needs comes from solar?


Answers below!








1) Three months
2) 1,800
3) 33%
4) 900,000
5) 2%

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Tenses: past simple or present perfect - grammar lesson 17

Level: pre-intermediate A2

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Time for another grammar lesson! This one looks at the differences between past simple and present perfect.


1.      Complete the magazine article by using the past simple form of the verbs in brackets.
Oxfam:  the start
This large organization           started               1 (start) its work in the difficult years of World War II. Back in 1942, a number of people in Oxford                          2 (meet) and                             3 (form) a group - the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief - to help people in other countries. They                         4 (begin) with Greece. They                            5 (collect) food and clothes, and                     6 (send) them to help many poor people in Greece.
World War II                           7 (come) to an end, but the group                               8 (see) that there was no end to wars and disasters - and the need for their work. So the organization                         9 (go) world-wide and its name                                   10 (become) Oxfam. Today, Oxfam runs programmes in over 70 developing countries.

2.      Complete the magazine article by using the present perfect form of the verbs in brackets.
Oxfam: the success story continues
Big successes for Oxfam have included 1 (include) help after hurricanes and other natural disasters. There                                        2 (be) another important aim, too. From the start, Oxfam                              3 (work) to help poor people build a better future. It                                                  4 (organize) long-term programmes in developing countries for many years, and these                                        5 (help) millions of people to escape poverty and disease.
For example, Oxfam                                                    6 (provide) equipment for communities to get clean water. It                                                   7 (train) thousands of health workers, and these people                                                  8 (improve) the health of whole regions. In addition, Oxfam                                     9 (make)
many new businesses possible through financial help and training. Recently, with some skills training, a group of women in Bangladesh                                                         10 (build) a successful company making hand-made products.


3.      Past Simple and Present Perfect. Underline the correct form of the verbs.
1.      In recent years, the rich became / have become richer.
2.      At the same time, the poor grew / have grown poorer.
3.      In 1945, the richer countries of the world started / have started the World Bank to help the poorer parts of the world.
4.      Since 1945, most developing countries borrowed / have borrowed from the World Bank to pay for development programmes.
5.      People in the Third World received / have received aid such as food from western countries for many years.
6.      Until the 1980s, the development and aid programmes were often / have often been the wrong ones for developing countries; for example, free food aid often hurt / has often hurt local farmers financially.
7.      There is another problem even now — western businesses continued / have continued to buy from the country with the lowest price.
8.      In the last twenty years, organizations like Tradecraft finally began / have finally begun to make a real difference to the way western and developing countries trade.

          4.      Complete the article by using the past simple or present perfect form of the verbs.
Concern: in partnership with Oxfam
In 1975, the organization Concern established 1 (establish) a centre in Demra, Bangladesh. Concern                                      2 (want) to provide food and health care for poor people. Since then, with the help of Oxfam, it                                              3 (encourage) people to work together to improve their living conditions. For several years, Oxfam and Concern                                           4 (work) with a group of women in Demra. In the 1990s, Concern                                                      5 (set) up a skills training centre and the women                                                             6 (learn) to make hand-made products like baskets and incense. At first, the women                                                           7 (sell) their products locally. Then Oxfam                                                             8 (do) some market research for them. Since then, the business                                                 9 (develop) its incense products for the international market. In recent years, it                                                            10 (sell) its incense to The Body Shop and other European buyers. The business                                                             11 (change) the lives of 150 women and their families.

Adapted from International Express OUP 2009


Answers below!






ANSWERS!

1.      Complete the magazine article by using the past simple form of the verbs in brackets.
Oxfam:  the start
This large organization started 1 (start) its work in the difficult years of World War II. Back in 1942, a number of people in Oxford met 2 (meet) and formed 3 (form) a group - the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief - to help people in other countries. They began 4 (begin) with Greece. They collected 5 (collect) food and clothes, and sent 6 (send) them to help many poor people in Greece.
World War II came 7 (come) to an end, but the group saw 8 (see) that there was no end to wars and disasters - and the need for their work. So the organization went 9 (go) world-wide and its name became 10 (become) Oxfam. Today, Oxfam runs programmes in over 70 developing countries.

2.      Complete the magazine article by using the present perfect form of the verbs in brackets.
Oxfam: the success story continues
Big successes for Oxfam have included 1 (include) help after hurricanes and other natural disasters. There has been 2 (be) another important aim, too. From the start, Oxfam has worked 3 (work) to help poor people build a better future. It has organized 4 (organize) long-term programmes in developing countries for many years, and these have helped 5 (help) millions of people to escape poverty and disease.
For example, Oxfam has provided 6 (provide) equipment for communities to get clean water. It has trained 7 (train) thousands of health workers, and these people have improved 8 (improve) the health of whole regions. In addition, Oxfam     has made 9 (make)

many new businesses possible through financial help and training. Recently, with some skills training, a group of women in Bangladesh have built 10 (build) a successful company making hand-made products. 

3.      Past Simple and Present Perfect. Underline the correct form of the verbs.
1.      In recent years, the rich became / have become richer.
2.      At the same time, the poor grew / have grown poorer.
3.      In 1945, the richer countries of the world started / have started the World Bank to help the poorer parts of the world.
4.      Since 1945, most developing countries borrowed / have borrowed from the World Bank to pay for development programmes.
5.      People in the Third World received / have received aid such as food from western countries for many years.
6.      Until the 1980s, the development and aid programmes were often / have often been the wrong ones for developing countries; for example, free food aid often hurt / has often hurt local farmers financially.
7.      There is another problem even now — western businesses continued / have continued to buy from the country with the lowest price.
8.      In the last twenty years, organizations like Tradecraft finally began / have finally begun to make a real difference to the way western and developing countries trade.

          4.      Complete the article by using the past simple or present perfect form of the verbs.
Concern: in partnership with Oxfam
In 1975, the organization Concern established 1 (establish) a centre in Demra, Bangladesh. Concern wanted 2 (want) to provide food and health care for poor people. Since then, with the help of Oxfam, it has encouraged 3 (encourage) people to work together to improve their living conditions. For several years, Oxfam and Concern have worked 4 (work) with a group of women in Demra. In the 1990s, Concern           set 5 (set) up a skills training centre and the women learnt 6 (learn) to make hand-made products like baskets and incense. At first, the women sold 7 (sell) their products locally. Then Oxfam did 8 (do) some market research for them. Since then, the business has developed 9 (develop) its incense products for the international market. In recent years, it has sold 10 (sell) its incense to The Body Shop and other European buyers. The business has changed 11 (change) the lives of 150 women and their families. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Landmark deal to protect Canada Great Bear Rainforest

Level: Intermediate B1 and above

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Landmark deal to protect Canada Great Bear rainforest

A new deal has been made to protect one of the world's last remaining temperate rainforests.

Read this article about it and then answer the following questions:

1) How many aboriginal groups live there?
2) How long have negotiations taken?
3) What is the spirit bear also known as?
4) How big is the rainforest habitat?
5) True or false: when the bears catch salmon they eat them by the river



Answers below!








ANSWERS!

1) 26
2) Ten years
3) Kermode bear
4) 32,000 sq km (12,000 sq miles)
5) False (they take them into the forest)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

You Tube science channels

Level: Intermediate B1 and above

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You Tube is a great for practising your English


Here are examples of good science channels on You Tube. They all contain short vides with subtitles - perfect for English practice!


Vsauce has videos about various scientific and philosophical subjects, as well as technology, culture and other subjects. It is very popular - some of its videos have millions of views and it has won awards. The videos vary in length, usually 3-15 minutes, although some are much longer.

Another popular sites is Veristasium, which has science and engineering videos with experiments, expert interviews, demonstrations and discussions with the general public. The videos are between 2 and 12 minutes long.

Smarter Every Day features experiments and demonstrations about science.


Unlike the previous three American channels, In a Nutshell - kurzgesagt is in British English. It has a new animation every month. ''We are a team of designers, journalists and musicians who want to make science look beautiful. Because it is beautiful.''

Periodic tables calls itself ''the ultimate channel for all things chemistry''. It features a video about each chemical element as well as ''other stuff from the world of chemistry''.

Minute physics uses time-lapse videos to try to explain physics-related subjects in a short time.

Scishow discusses science news, history and concepts.

Crash course teaches many subjects, including biology, ecology,and chemistry, as well as history, literature, politics, etc.

The Khan Academy offers many subjects and aims to provide ''a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere''.

If you know of any more, please let us know!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Say 'no' to plastic bags

Level: CAE / Upper-intermediate B2

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Here is a CAE multiple-choice cloze practice exercise.



Say ‘no’ to plastic bags


Read the text below and decide which answer (A, B C or D) best fits each gap. There is an example at the beginning (0):

Did you know that on (0)      A      we take home 150 plastic bags annually? In (1)            words, that means a global figure of one million plastic bags taken home every minute. We are sure you will all agree this is a truly shocking statistic.
Plastic bags cannot be simply (2)           of along with your domestic rubbish – they can blow off landfill sites and become highly (3)           litter which can remain in the environment for a number of years. They are not only an eyesore but they are a (4)           to the environment. For example, plastic bags almost dammed the Buriganga river in Bangladesh, and they are widely (5)           responsible for causing devastation floods there on two separate (6)            .
They also (7)           a particular threat to wildlife. More and more (8)           dead turtles and whales are discovered washed up on beaches, killed by swallowing plastic bags. To marine life, a plastic bag closely (9)           a jellyfish.
These are the (10)           why you should reuse plastic bags you already have or take a small rucksack on trips to the supermarket. Why not take (11)           and show how much you care about the environment by (12)           this small step!


0          A  average                B   normal            C   example            D   ratio
1          A   fewer                     B   some               C   those                 D   other
2          A   disposed                B   thrown            C   finished             D   used
3          A   evident                  B   observable      C   visible                D   marked
4          A   risk                        B   danger            C   difficulty           D   problem
5          A   shown                   B   taken               C   made                D   held
6          A   occasions              B   activities          C   incidents           D   episodes
7          A   model                    B   set                    C   pose                  D   generate
8          A   repeatedly             B   frequently        C   usually             D   generally
9          A   resembles              B   reminds           C   equates            D   appears
10        A   motives                 B   reasons             C   sources             D   causes
11        A   against                   B   advantage        C   action              D   account
12        A   helping                  B   doing                C   following         D   taking

Adapted from CAE Result, OUP





Answers below!





ANSWERS!

Did you know that on (0)      A      we take home 150 plastic bags annually? In (1)    D      words, that means a global figure of one million plastic bags taken home every minute. We are sure you will all agree this is a truly shocking statistic.
Plastic bags cannot be simply (2)    A     of along with your domestic rubbish – they can blow off landfill sites and become highly (3)    C     litter which can remain in the environment for a number of years. They are not only an eyesore but they are a (4)     B    to the environment. For example, plastic bags almost dammed the Buriganga river in Bangladesh, and they are widely (5)    D    responsible for causing devastation floods there on two separate (6)     A     .
They also (7)    C    a particular threat to wildlife. More and more (8)    B    dead turtles and whales are discovered washed up on beaches, killed by swallowing plastic bags. To marine life, a plastic bag closely (9)    A    a jellyfish.
These are the (10)    B     why you should reuse plastic bags you already have or take a small rucksack on trips to the supermarket. Why not take (11)    C     and show how much you care about the environment by (12)   D     this small step!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Earth 'entering new extinction phase'

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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There have been a number of reports recently about extinction of species and a new phase of extinction.

Here is an article about a recent study on the BBC Science & Environment webpage.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) How many mass extinction events have there been so far?
2) When was the last one?
3) True or false: since 1900, more than 40 vertebrate species have disappeared.
4) How many amphibian species are threatened with extinction?
5) How many lemur species are critically endangered?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!
1) Five (we are entering the sixth)
2) 65 million years ago
3) True
4) 41%
5) 94%