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 240 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

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The weather - crossword

The weather is always a topic of conversation! But do you know the vocabulary? Try this week's quiz:
Weather crossword

Friday, 22 April 2011

Articles - grammar lesson 3

Level: Pre-intermediate/ A2

1. Complete the following text with the, a, an or Ø (no article).

(1)   The   Peak District

If you enjoy (2)                walking and climbing, come and spend (3)                 weekend in (4)                 Peak District - (5)                 Britain's most popular national park! Situated in (6)                 north of Derbyshire, (7)                 Park is (8)                 real ‘adventure’ country and has some of (9)                 Britain's most picturesque walks, including (10)                 world-famous Pennine Way.

And it's all just four hours from (11)                 London by (12)                 train! For more information about (13)                   train and (14)                 bus services, visit (15)                 Tourist Information Office.

2. Complete the following sentences with the or Ø (no article).

1.   Ø     France,                   Italy and                   United Kingdom are all                  members of                   European Union.
2.                  Nile is                  longest river in                  Africa.
3.                  longest mountain range in                   world is                   Andes in                   South America.
4.                  Hawaii,                   Tahiti and                   Fiji are all                  islands in                   Pacific Ocean.
5.                   Lake Superior, on                  border between                   Canada and                  United States, is                   largest lake in                   world.
6.                  river Rhine flows through                  five countries in                   Europe.

Answers below!


 The Peak District

If you enjoy 2  Ø  walking and climbing, come and spend 3    the / a *    weekend in 4    the   Peak District - 5  Ø  Britain's most popular national park! Situated in 6   the  north of Derbyshire, 7   the   Park is 8  Ø  real ‘adventure’ country and has some of 9  Ø  Britain's most picturesque walks, including 10   the   world-famous Pennine Way.

And it's all just four hours from 11  Ø  London by 12  Ø  train! For more information about 13   Ø    train and 14   Ø  bus services, visit 15   the / a *  Tourist Information Office.

(* depends if you are referring to a specific weekend or weekends in general)

2. Complete the following sentences with the or Ø (no article).

1.  Ø   France,   Ø  Italy and     the    United Kingdom are all   Ø  members of    the     European Union.
2.   The     Nile is    the   longest river in  Ø   Africa.
3.   The  longest mountain range in   the   world is   the    Andes in  Ø   South America.
4.  Ø   Hawaii,   Ø    Tahiti and   Ø   Fiji are all   Ø  islands in   the   Pacific Ocean.
5.   Ø   Lake Superior, on    the  border between   Ø   Canada and   the  United States, is   the   largest lake in   the    world.
6.  The    river Rhine flows through   Ø  five countries in   Ø   Europe.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Climate change - crossword

Here's another crossword for you, again from the BBC Learning English website:

Climate change crossword

How was it? Easy, difficult?
Let me know!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Plants and climate change - video lesson 2

Unfortunately the article and video for this have been archived and are no longer available.

The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew are world famous for their botanical research and education work.
They were featured recently on the British Government's sustainable development website.

Have a look at this article about Kew Views. There is also a short video (three and a half minutes).
Then answer these questions:
1 What subjects do the Kew Views videos look at?
2 Who is the Director of Kew Gardens?
3 Where is it also possible to watch this video?
4 According to the video, how much does deforestation contribute to carbon emissions?
5 What is Paul Smith's job?

And a bonus question - can you spot the funny mistake in the text?

Answers below!


Kew’s scientific work on issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and food security
Steven Hopper
3 Kew's own website
4 15-18%
5 Head of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

bonus question:

The Breathing Planet Programme is Kew’s project to build on the essential role of plants in helping humanity deal with the environmental challenges we are all facing. The programme aims to chart a sustainable way forward, living with biodiversity and enhancing our quality of life, through seven toads to a more resilient planet:
(toads should be roads!)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Pollution and the environment - word formation

Level: Upper Intermediate / B2

Word formation
Complete these sentences using the word on the right. The word has to be changed into the correct form. The first one has been done for you.

1. Smoke from factories is polluting the atmosphere.      POLLUTION
2. This is one of many                      problems.                          ENVIRONMENT
3. Pollution is very                      to people's health.               HARM
4. Fortunately there are now many                      groups.    CONSERVE
5. Their aim is the                      of all natural things.             PROTECT
6. Pollution is                      the environment.                           DESTROY
7. The effects of radiation can be very                     .             DAMAGE
8.                       waste is a big problem.                                        INDUSTRY

Answers below!


1 polluting
2 environmental
3 harmful
4 conservation
5 protection
6 destroying
7 damaging
8 industrial

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Rivers - crossword

Here is this weeks crossword form the BBC Learning English page:
Rivers crossword

A couple of difficult ones in there (a teat of your geographical knowledge as well as your vocabulary!).
Can you tell me which of the answers is American English? And what would we call it in British English?

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Danube Sturgeon - listening lesson 2

Level: Advanced / C1

This week I have an article from the BBC's From Our Own Correspondent programme that was also broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday 9th April . The article is available to listen to online or to download as a podcast (go to the bottom of the article and choose).
Listening is an important part of learning English: try to find time every week to do some.

So, you can either listen to the programme or read it - or both together! The article is called 'Danube Sturgeon on the brink of extinction?'

The From Our Own Correspondent programme is 30 minutes long. The Danube story is the last one, staring at 23:38.

Once you have read or listened to it, answer these questions:

1 How long has the Sturgeon existed?
2 Where are the Iron Gates?
3 Where was the spawning ground for the Sturgeon?
4 When did Romania ban fishing for Sturgeon?
5 The author compares the taste of Sturgeon to which other fish species?

And a bonus question - what is the scientific (Latin) name for the Danube Sturgeon? (you will have to look elsewhere to find the answer).

Let me know what you think of the article.

Answers below!


1 (at least) 200 million years
2 Between Romania and Serbia
3 Szigetkoz, Hungary
4 2006
5 Wild Salmon

Bonus: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The coast - crossword

Here is another crossword from the BBC Learning English website.
This time it is vocabulary from the coast. Some of these are words from Lesson 1: geographical vocabulary, so a bit of revision for you!

Coastal crossword

Monday, 4 April 2011

Investing in clean energy - video lesson 1

Level: Advanced / C1

This week I would like you to read an article and watch a short video (2.5 minutes) from the Pew Environment Group. There is also an interactive map for finding information.

Read the article 'Investing in clean power', watch the video and look at the interactive map. Then you can answer these questions:

1 How much investment was there in clean energy in China in 2010?
2 Which country is second in terms of clean energy investment?
3 Why are people not investing so much in the USA and the UK?
4 How much wind energy is Spain generating? (see the map)
5 In the video, who does Phyllis Cuttino call the 'world's clean energy superpower'?

Finally, how much investment in clean energy is there in your country? Should there be more?
Let me know what you think please.

Answers below!


1 $54.4 billlion
2 Germany
3 Clean energy policies are not very clear in the UK and USA (ambiguity)
4 20,720 megawatts
5 China

Friday, 1 April 2011

Green Issues - vocabulary lesson 3

Level: Advanced / C1

Complete the sentences using these words:

biodiversity      erosion       exhaust         fertilizer        food chain     
hydroelectric          pesticide           residues         
wind turbine       genetically modified 

l           Poisons which are used on one species can enter the                                                              and affect other species.

2          A chemical                                                       may destroy harmful insects, but it often has undesirable side-effects.

3          A great deal of                                                             is used to increase the yield of crops. But it then runs off into the water supply and causes other problems.

4          Your car                                                           may look OK, but in fact it is part of the biggest and fastest growing global source of pollution.

5          It is important to preserve as many species of plant and animal as we can, to maintain                                                              .

6          Conservationists are very suspicious of                                                                                                           crops; they fear ‘genetic pollution’ of other species.

7          A                                                          produces totally clean energy. But some people think they are too big, noisy and ugly.

8          Where there are mountains and rainfall,                                                          energy is often a good option.

9          Most fruit and vegetables need to be washed carefully, as they carry pesticide                                on their skins.

10        In many places the destruction of forest has lead to serious                                                   of the soil, and sometimes to flooding.

Answers below!


1  food chain
2  pesticide
3  fertilizer
4  exhaust
5  biodiversity
6  genetically modified
7  wind turbine
8  hydroelectric
9  residues
10 erosion