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, 29 June 2011

Monday, 27 June 2011

Tidal energy

Level: Advanced / C1

Renewable energy can have it's own problems. This weeks lessons looks at tidal power in the UK.
Read this article and answer the following questions:

1 Which river was the tidal barrage planned for?
2 The estuary is protected under which European Union designation?
3 Which fish species recently returned to the river?
4 Which other tidal barrage plan was cancelled last year in the UK?
5 What other types of renewable energy do you know?

Answers below!


1 The River Mersey
2 Special Protection Area (SPA)
3 Salmon
4 The River Severn
5 Solar, hydro-electric, geothermal, wind, wave

Monday, 20 June 2011

Global Ocean Legacy Interactive Map

Level: Upper intermediate / B2

As part of World Oceans Day (June 8), Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy campaign launched an interactive map to spotlight some of the most important and unspoiled places in our seas.
Have a look at the map and answer these questions:
1 How much of the ocean is fully protected?
2 How big is the Coral Sea?
3 How many species of fish are found in Kermadec?
4 How many islands make up Chagos?
5 How many species of whale can be found off Bermuda?

Answers below!


1 Less than half a percent
2 1,000,000 sq km (one million square kilometres!)
3 431
4 55
5 16

Friday, 17 June 2011

Animal idioms - vocabulary lesson

Level: Advanced / C1

A. Match the two halves of the animal idioms. The first one has been done for you.

      1) As blind as           an owl
      2) As stubborn as    a mouse
      3) As sly as              a bat
      4) As busy as        a mule
      5) As wise as          a swan
      6) As quiet as        a fox
      7) As graceful as  a peacock
      8) As proud as      a bee

B. Put the correct idioms from above into these sentences. The first one has been done for you.

      1) I can’t see a thing without my glasses; I’m as blind as a bat!
      2) I couldn’t get him to change his mind; he’s as                                      
      3) She is always rushing around doing things – she is as                       
      4) She is a wonderful ballet dancer – on stage she is as                 
      5) He is as                       about his new car.
      6) I don’t like that politician – he is as                     
      7) She is a very clever teacher and as                    
      8) Your son is very well behaved – he is as                  

C. What animal idioms do you have in your language? Can you translate them into English?!

If you want some more practice, then have a look at this animal idioms crossword.

Answers below!


1  As blind as a bat  
2  As stubborn as a mule
3  As sly as a fox
4  As busy as a bee
5  As wise as an owl
6  As quiet as a mouse
7  As graceful as a swan
8  As proud as a peacock

1 As blind as a bat  
2  As stubborn as a mule  
3  As busy as a bee
4  As graceful as a swan
5  As proud as a peacock
6  As sly as a fox
7  As wise as an owl
8  As quiet as a mouse

Monday, 13 June 2011

Leatherback Turtle seen off Scotland

Level: Upper intermediate / B2

Leatherback turtles are occasionally seen in British waters.
Here is a short article about a recent sighting. Read it and then answer the following questions:
1 What is the name of the HWDT ship?
2 What is the captains name?
3 What is a group of dolphins called?
4 What is the conservation status of the Leatherback Turtle?
5 What does it eat?

Answers below!


1 Silurian
2 Dave Hanna
3 A pod
4 Critically endangered
5 Jellyfish

Monday, 6 June 2011

Ten minute reading: Birds of Prey

Persecution of birds of prey is still a big problem in Britain. This short article looks at the issue.
Read the article and answer the following questions:
1 How much was James Rolfe fined?
2 Which other bird of prey was found in the police investigation?
3 Four leg rings were also found - which species did they come from?
4 When did Red Kites return to Scotland?
5 What do Red Kites eat?

Answers below!


2 Hen Harrier
3 Golden Eagle
4 1989
5 They are scavengers, mainly eating dead birds, rabbits, etc.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Small mammals - crossword

Here is the weekly crossword for you. Some more interesting idioms, plus a difficult one about cats!
Small mammals crossword