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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 200 lessons on this blog. Look through the Blog archive, Post labels and Popular Posts to find what you want.


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

Friday, 15 August 2014

Million, milliard or billion?

Level: Intermediate B1

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Confused about millions, milliards and billions?!
Read on! 


Millions and billions

The long and short scales are two large-number naming systems used throughout the world. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries use the short scale.

Long scale is the English translation of the French term ├ęchelle longue. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is a million times the previous term. Thus, billion means a million millions (1012), trillion means a million billions (1018), and so on.
Short scale is the English translation of the French term ├ęchelle courte. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is 1,000 times the previous term. Thus, billion means a thousand millions (109), trillion means a thousand billions (1012), and so on
For integers less than a thousand million (<109), the two scales are identical. At and above a thousand million (≥109), the two scales diverge by using the same words for different number values. These "false friends" can be a source of misunderstanding!

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the UK used the long scale, while the USA used the short scale. In 1974, the UK government switched to the short scale.

Scientific         Numerals                    Short Scale                 Long Scale
notation                                              (English)                      (non-English)
100                   1                                  one                              one
101                   10                                ten                               ten
102                   100                              hundred                       hundred
103                   1,000                           thousand                     thousand
104                   10,000                         ten thousand               ten thousand
105                   100,000                       hundred thousand       hundred thousand
106                   1,000,000                    million                         million
109                   1,000,000,000             billion                          thousand million/milliard
1012                  1,000,000,000,000      trillion                          billion



Thursday, 14 August 2014

Second conditional - grammar lesson 15

Level: Intermediate B1

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Second conditional

DISCUSSION       What would you do...?

1) ...if you were in a river and suddenly saw a crocodile swimming towards you?
a) I would try to swim to the bank as quickly as possible.
b) I wouldn’t move and I’d wait for the crocodile to go away.
c) I would try to hit the crocodile in the face.

2) ...if you were in a forest a very large bear came towards you?
a) I would climb up the nearest tree.
b) I would lie on the ground and pretend to be dead.
c) I would run away as fast as I could.

3) ...if you were in a field and a bull started running towards you?
a) I would run.
b) I would throw something in another direction.
c) I would shout and wave my arms.

GRAMMAR         if + past, would + infinitive
1) Is the crocodile situation (a) one which could easily happen to you OR (b) one which is not very probable?
2) What verb tense goes after if?     
3) What is the form of the other verbs in the question and the answer?

PRACTICE           Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verbs in brackets.
1) If I     had         (have) a bike, I    would cycle                          (cycle) to work.
2) If I                      (see) a tarantula, I                                               (be) terrified!
3) I                                           (not know) what to do if I                                  (find) a mouse in my kitchen.
4) What                                  you                         (do) if you                             (saw) bear?
5) I                                           (go) on a safari to Kenya if I                             (have) enough money.

PRACTICE           Order the words to complete the sentences and questions.
1) I’d / shark / be / frightened / very
If I saw a               shark I’d be very frightened                                                                              .
2) saw / you / a / bear / if / do / you / would
What                                                                                                                                                       ?
3) he / if / sailing / could / swim
He’d go                                                                                                                                                   .
4) long / lottery / holiday / won / she’d / the / on / go / a
If she                                                                                                                                                       .
5) if / go / on / were/ I / you / safari
I’d                                                                                                                                                            .


Adapted from New English File Pre-intermediate OUP




Answers next week!

Monday, 11 August 2014

World Elephant Day

Level: Intermediate B1

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Tuesday 12th August is World Elephant Day!
But how much do you know about them?


1) How many species of elephant are there?
2) True or false - there are more Asian elephants than African elephants.
3) What is CITES?
4) Which country is the main market for ivory?
5) How long is the gestation period of an elephant? (go to page 2 for this one)


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) Traditionally two, but evidence suggests that there are two species in Africa.
2) False
3) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
4) China
5) Up to two years.


Please note, this lesson has changed because the original website (http://worldelephantday.org/) has closed down.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Cloud appreciation - ten-minute TED talk


Level: Advanced / C1

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How often do you look up at the clouds? You should do it more often because there's lots to see and they help you to relax!

Here is a great talk (ten minutes long) about clouds by Gavin-Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
It is on TED, a great site for listening to English. You can turn on the subtitles and see the transcript.

Watch and listen to the talk, then answer these questions:

1) What English idiom does he mention which describes when someone is down or depressed?
2) And which idiom is used when bad news is in store?
3) Aristophanes described clouds as the goddesses of what?
4) What does the photo of sunlight bursting out of the clouds look like?
5) What type of cloud is named after the Latin for a lock of hair?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) Under a cloud
2) A cloud on the horizon
3) Idle fellows
4) Two cats dancing a salsa
5) Cirrus

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Language of Maps

Level: Intermediate B1

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Do you know how to read a map?
Do you know the vocabulary of maps?

Here is a good article which summarises the main vocabulary associated with maps.
Read the article and then answer the following questions

1) What is at 66 33 south?
2) What are the cardinal directions?
3) What do we call the lines parallel to the equator?
4) Which Tropic is further north, Cancer or Capricorn?
5) What is the name of the projection used by the National Geographic Society?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) The Antarctic Circle
2) North, south, east and west
3) The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
4) The Tropic of Cancer
5) Winkel Tripel

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Three Przewalski’s horses flown from Czech Republic to their homeland

Level: Intermediate B1

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Three Przewalski's horses from Prague Zoo have been flown to Mongolia to begin a new life in their country of origin.
Read this article about it from Horsetalk.co.nz, then answer the following questions:

1) Are the horses male or female?
2) How many times has the Zoo sent horses to Mongolia?
3) Where will the horse's new home be?
4) Why did the horses almost become extinct?
5) Who is the horse species named after?


Answers next week!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mammal Photographer of the Year

Level: Intermediate B1

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The winners of this year's Mammal Photographer of the Year Award have been announced by the Mammal Society.

The 20 winners and finalists can be seen on Flickr.

Here is a selection of the images on the BBC nature website. Have a look at them and the text that goes with them, then answer the following questions:
1) What has had an impact on Brown Hare populations?
2) In what way are Roe Deer different to other deer?
3) How many of the world's Common Seals live in the UK?
4) Which animal has had a devastating impact on Water Voles?
5) How many insects can a Pipestrelle Bat eat in one night?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!


1) Changes in farming methods
2) They do not live in herds
3) Around 5%
4) American Mink
5) 3,000