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

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

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.
Answers next week!

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

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 next week!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Intensive English homestay courses

Looking for an intensive English course this summer?

I can recommend English Steps:

  • Live with a qualified English teacher and other adult students. in an English-speaking house.
  • 17.5 hours of intensive English lessons per week - maximum class size of 4.
  • Work for charities, NGOs and other organisations in the afternoons with native English speakers.
  • Go on trips, activities and extra courses with native English speakers in the afternoons and evenings.
  • Free accommodation in your own room in Leeds, UK.
  • Minimum stay 1 week. There is no maximum stay.
For more information, go to the English Steps website or their Facebook page.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The truth about magpies

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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Magpies have a bad reputation for stealing and killing other birds. But is it true?

Here is an interesting article about magpies from the BBC Earth webpage.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) What is Pica pica?
2) Where does the magpies reputation of stealing come from?
3) True or false: magpies eat eggs and small birds.
4) What happened to the magpie population in Britain between 1966 and 1986?
5) According to the article, are magpies thieves?

Answers below!


1) Eurasian magpie
2) A French play (and then an Italian opera)
3) True
4) It increased steadily by about 5% per year
5) No

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

California drought: Will the Golden State turn brown?

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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California has introduced water restrictions, but will they work?

Here is an article about the drought. There are two short videos in the article. Watch the SECOND VIDEO (near the and of the article) and then answer the following questions:

Video 2 - Numbers:
1) Lake McClure is how much lower than its historical average?
2) How much of the world's almonds come from California?
3) How much of America's fruit, nuts and vegetables come from California?
4) According to Dave Phippen, by how much has California's population grown recently?
5) How much water has been lost in the last year?

Answers below!


1) A third
2) Around 80%
3) Half
4) Doubled in thirty years
5) 63 trillion gallons (63,000,000,000,000 gallons)