intro

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 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

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Important environmental events and dates 2014

Every year there are many important conferences, events and days to commemorate something.
I have compiled a list of what is coming up in 2014. Click on an event to get a link to the relevant website.
Please let me know if I have missed anything or if you would like me to add an event.
You can see a full list of International Observance days on Wikipedia

January
4-5     Future Environment & Energy Conference, Melbourne
5         National Bird Day (USA)
17-18 Aqualires 2014 - sustainable management of aquatic living resources, Bucharest
20       Penguin Awareness Day
26-29 FRESH & European Sustainable Events Conference, Copenhagen
27-31 Economic Valuation of Protected Areas in Eastern Europe, Vilm, Germany
29        Green Growth, Green Jobs, Brussels

February
2          World Wetlands Day
2          Hedgehog Day
3-7      National Green Week (USA)
12        Darwin Day
17-20 African Water Association Conference, Abidjan
20       Green Mountains Conference, Brussels
24       World Ocean Summit, San Francisco
24-25 CLARR Climate Change Conference, Bremen
27-28 MiaGreen Expo & Conference, Miami

March
5-7      Smart Cities International Exhibition, Sofia
5-7      Waste Management & Recycling Exhibition, Sofia
5-7      Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Exhibition, Sofia
6-8      Clean Energy Building Conference, Stuttgart
10-11 World Migratory Bird Day
10-14 Climate Change Conference, Bonn
14       International Day of Action for Rivers
20       World Sparrow Day
21       World Forestry Day
22       World Water Day
22-23 Renewable Energy Gas Technology Conference, Malmo
23        Earth Hour
23        World Meteorological Day
27-28 Adapt to Climate Conference, Cyprus
27-29 Africa Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Durban

April
1          Forum for the Future of Agriculture, Brussels
1-3      Green Carbon Conference, Brussels
2-4      Natura People Workshop, Bruges
20-26 International Dark Sky Week
22        Earth Day
22        International Mother Earth Day
24-25 Sustainable Brands Conference, Rio de Janeiro
25        Penguin Day
26       Save the Frogs Day

May
 w/e     World Migratory Bird Day
4        International Dawn Chorus Day
10       International Migratory Bird Day
14-16 Nature Protection in Military Areas Conference, Hungary
16       Endangered Species Day
17-20 Climate Ride, California
21-22 Sustainable Brands, Istanbul
22        International Day for Biological Diversity
23       World Turtle Day
23-26 European Biomass Conference, Hamburg
24       European Day of Parks

June
2-5     Sustainable Brands, San Diego
3-6     ECWATECH - International Water Forum, Moscow
5        World Environment Day
5-7     Contemporary Challenges of Environmental Law Conference, Ljubljana
5-15   European Dry Grassland Meeting, Tula, Russia
8         World Oceans Day
9        Coral Triangle Day
15       Global Wind Day
17       World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
17-23 Recycle Week
23-27 Future Oceans Conference, Bergen

July
3-6     European Conference on Sustainability, Energy & the Environment, Brighton, UK
11       World Population Day
14       Shark Awareness Day
29       International Tiger Day
31       World Ranger Day

August
3-8       European Conference on Ecological Restoration, Finland
10       World Lion Day
12       World Elephant Day
20-23  Visitors in Recreational and Protected Areas, Tallinn
30        International Whale Shark Day
31-5/9 World Water Week, Stockholm

September
8-11    EcoFil - lakes and rivers, Czech Republic
16        International Ozone Day
16 -22 European Mobility Week
18        World Water Monitoring Day
19       Clean Up the World Weekend
20       International Red Panda Day
21        Zero Emissions Day
22        Car Free Day
22       World Rhino Day
22-25 World Water Congress, Lisbon
22-26 European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Amsterdam
24-26 Deltas in Times of Climate Change, Rotterdam
26        World Maritme Day
27        World Tourism Day
28        World Rivers Day
28       Green Consumer Day

October
4         World Animal Welfare Day
6         World Habitat Day
9-12   Renewable Energy Expo, Augsburg
11-17 Biology Week (UK)
12       National Fungus Day (UK)
12-17 Shallow Lakes Conference, Turkey
13       International Day for Disaster Reduction
13-19 Grown in Britain Week

November
5-7     European Land Stewardship Conference, Barcelona
6         World Responsible Tourism Day
12-19 IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney
16-24 European Week for Waste Reduction
17-20 7th International Conference on Forest Fire Research, Portugal
19       World Toilet Day

December
4        World Wildlife Conservation Day
4        International Cheetah Day
11       International Mountain Day



Green is Great - British Council video lessons

The British Council is the UKs international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.
Its Learn English website has lots of free videos, games, stories and exercises.

There are two video lessons called Green is Great. They both have questions and exercises afterwards.
Have a go and see how well you do!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Articles - grammar lesson 14

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Articles

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

 1    The       Azores are 2           group of islands in 3           Atlantic Ocean. They belong to 4           Portugal. On one of the islands is 6           mountain called 7           Pico, which is 8           highest mountain in 9           country. 10           islands were discovered in 11           fourteenth century by 12            explorers from Europe.

Adapted from English result Upper-intermediate, Oxford.

Answers below!




ANSWERS!


Articles

Complete the following text with theaan or Ø (no article).

 1 The  Azores are 2 a  group of islands in 3 the  Atlantic Ocean. They belong to 4  Ø   Portugal. On one of the islands is 6  a  mountain called 7 Ø  Pico, which is 8 the  highest mountain in 9 the  country. 10 The    islands were discovered in 11 the  fourteenth century by 12   Ø   explorers from Europe.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How is fog formed? Video lesson 24

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Here is a great, short (two-minute) video from BBC Weather explaining how radiation fog forms.

Watch the video and then answer the following questions:
1) True or false: you normally need low pressure for fog to form
2) Which two crucial mechanisms are needed for fog to form?
3) What happens to the heat in the soil when the sun goes down?
4) What happens when the dew point of the air matches the temperature of the air?
5) What can make the fog disappear again?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!
1) False: you normally need high pressure
2) Clear skies, light wind
3) It radiates away
4) Fog forms
5) The sun coming out and heating up the air

Monday, 9 December 2013

UK energy mix

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Surprisingly, the UK uses less energy now than it did in the 1970s. But how much does it use and where does it come from?
Read this article and then answer the following questions:
1) Why is the UK using less energy now?
2) How many more cars are there in the UK now compared to 1970?
3) Why was there a big fall in coal and oil in the 1990s?
4) When will power stations with CCS start operating?
5) What will be the biggest source of electricity in 2030?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) It is more efficient at producing and using energy
2) 27 million compared with 10 million
3) Because of the 'dash for gas'
4) 2017
5) Renewables

Amazon swimmer - grammar lesson 13

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise


NOTE: This exercise was amended on 9/12/13 at 20:00 CET.


Amazon swimmer

1: Read the text below and write the verbs in brackets in the appropriate tense (more than one answer may be possible).

There (1)          was      (be) a time when explorers (2)                                    (tell) us about their amazing adventures in books. But nowadays, no ‘true’ adventurer or explorer travels without a documentary film crew.
Martin Strel, a 52-year-old Slovenian, is a long-distance swimmer. His current challenge is the Amazon. He (3)                                 (take) camera men to the Amazon with him. Last week they (4)                                 (began) filming Strel’s attempt to swim the length of the river.  On the first afternoon they (5)                                     (film) him successfully swim through parts of the river in Peru.
Strel (6)                                     (survive) many previous dangers. As a young man he (7)                               (swim) the English Channel  and since then he (8)                                     (also / swim) the Danube (2,860 km), Mississippi (3,885 km) and Yangtze (4,003 km) rivers.

The Amazon (5,268 km), however, (9)                                    (be) a greater challenge for Strel with its crocodiles, stingrays and sharks. In case of emergencies, his back-up team (10)                            (pack) animal food to throw to any interested meat-eaters and his medical team (11)                           (take) a supply of blood from Mr Strel before the journey (12)                              (begin) - just in case the worst happened!

2: Write questions about Martin Strel using the past simple or present perfect.
1.         Q: In the past, how      did explorers tell us about their adventures        ?
            A: They wrote books.
2.         Q: Who                                                                                                              ?
            A: A film crew, a back-up team and a medical team.
3.         Q: What                                                                                                             ?
            A: Strel’s attempt to swim the Amazon.
4.         Q: What                                                                                                             ?
            A: The English Channel.
5.         Q: Why                                                                                                              ?
            A: For emergencies.

Adapted from Language Leader Intermediate, Longman


Answers below!





ANSWERS!


1          was
2          told
3          has taken
4          began
5          filmed
6          stopped
7          has survived / survived
8          swam
9          has also swum
10        is / has been
11        has packed / packed
12        has taken / took
13        began

1          did explorers tell us about their adventures
2          has Strel taken with him / has gone with Strel
3          did the camera men film / are the camera men filming
4          did he swim when he was a young man
5          has/did his back-up team packed animal food/blood

Friday, 29 November 2013

Burma's undiscovered insects and spiders

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

A BBC/Smithsonian film crew went to Burma (Myanmar) and discovered some wonderful new species.

Have a look at this photo-story and then answer the following questions:
1) What is an entomologist?
2) Where is Tamanathi?
3) How did the team catch the insects they studied?
4) How long was the featherwing beetle?
5) In the last photo, what is on the spider's body?

Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) A scientist who studies insects
2) In the north-west
3) With bucket and light traps
4) 0.5 mm long
5) Young spiderlings

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Polish coal controversy. Video lesson 23

Level: Upper-Intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

At the Climate Change Summit in Poland, the UN Chief Climate Negotiator (Christiana Figueres) has called on Poland to cut its use of coal. But they are heavily dependant on it.
Watch this short (three minute) video about new coal technology in Poland and then answer the following questions:
1) How many people like in Krakow?
2) Breathing the smog is like smoking how many cigarettes a year?
3) Who does Andrzej Gula work for?
4) How many people die from the smog in Krakow every year?
5) What does the new facility in Katowice produce from coal?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) 35,000?
2) 2,500?
3) Krakow Clean Air Campaign?
4) Several hundred
5) Gas

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Illegal trade in animals

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise


More endangered animals and animal products were confiscated in the UK than ever before, according to the Home Office Border Agency.

Have a look at this photo-story and then answer the following questions:
1) What animal skin was found in a Rolls-Royce?
2) What is CITES?
3) How many live animals were seized?
4) What does 'CRAZE' contain?
5) Why was a man from Manchester sent to prison in May?

Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) Alligator
2) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
3) 93
4) A rare orchid (Dendrobium)
5) For trying to import live coral.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Free English exercises

International House in Bristol offers free English exercises on it's webpage.
Here is one with ten questions about the environment. How many can you get right?!

Under a cloud - English phrase

The BBC Learning English website has many great activities and articles.
In the Grammar and Vocabulary section they often have a phrase for the day.
Recently they had Under a cloud. Do you know what it means? Have a look at the site to find out.

Forest change mapped by Google Earth

Level: Intermediate / B1
Looking at numbers

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Using Google Earth, a team at Maryland University have produced a high-resolution map of global forest loss and gain.
Read this article about it and then answer the following questions:
1) What is the maximum resolution of the map?
2) How many images were taken to make the map?
3) How much tree cover was lost on Earth between 2000 and 2012?
4) How big was Indonesia's annual loss?
5) By how much is tropical forest loss increasing per year?

Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) 30 metres
2) 650,000
3) 2.3m km2 or sq km (m = million) (km2 or sq km = square kilometres)
4) 20,000 km2
5) 2,100 km2

Monday, 21 October 2013

How to cut the cost of your energy bill

Level: Intermediate / B1
Looking at numbers

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Saving energy - and saving money. How can we do it?
Here is an article looking at how the average household could save plenty of both.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:
1) How much is the average energy bill? (according to Ofgen - the UK energy regulator)
2) How much could you save by turning down your thermostat by one degree?
3) How much could you save by turning off electrical appliances?
4) What temperature should your washing machine be?
5) How much money could an eco-showerhead save?

Answers below!





ANSWERS!
1) £1,420
2) £65 per year
3) Between £50 and £90 a year
4) 30C
5) £75 a year

Friday, 18 October 2013

A little bird told me... English expression

One of my favourite websites for learning English is One Word A Day.
Each day they give you a word or phrase. Today's is the expression A little bird told me. Do you know what it means?!
Have a look at their website - it is free to join.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Wildlife photographer of the year

Level: Pre-Intermediate / A2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise


Here are the winners of the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Look at the photos, read the text and then answer the following questions:
1) What is the title of the overall winning photograph?
2) Where were the gorilla twins photographed?
3) What is the Siberian Tiger also known as?
4) In Peter Delaney's photograph, what were the vultures eating?
5) What bird did Chris Aydlett photograph?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!
1) Essence of Elephants
2) Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
3) Amur Tiger
4) An Eland
5) A Raven

Air pollution and heath in Europe

Level: Upper-Intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

The European Environment Agency has published it's 2103 Report on Air Quality in Europe.

Read this article about the report and then answer the following questions:
1) Which pollutants have been cut by nations?
2) How much of the EU's population is exposed to high levels of fine particulate matter?
3) What effect is air pollution having on ecosystems?
4) True or false: EU limits for fine particulate matter are lower than WHO guidelines
5) Where do these microscopic particles come from?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!
1) Sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.
2) 96% of its urban population.
3) Impairing vegetation growth and harming biodiversity.
4) False - they are twice as high.
5) A range of sources, including road traffic emissions.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Art and mushrooms at Kew - Fungus Day. Video lesson 22

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Sunday 13th October is Fungus Day (in the UK).
Here is a great video (five minutes) about art and mushrooms at Kew Gardens in London.

Enjoy the video, then answer these following questions:
1) What exactly are the sculptures of?
2) What tree does Tom Hare use for his sculptures?
3) How many green boxes are there at Kew?
4) How long does it take the Death Cap Mushroom to kill you?
5) What other material does Tom Hare use on the Boletus sculpture?

Answers below!




ANSWERS!
1) Edible mushrooms native to the UK
2) Willow
3) Thousands
4) About a week
5) Straw

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Plastic waste in lakes

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Pollution from plastic waste is affecting lakes as well as oceans.
Read this article about the problem, then answer the following questions:
1) Where is Lake Garda?
2) Why are the researchers concerned about tiny plastic particles?
3) Why do organisms eat the plastic?
4) What are the main sources of waste in Lake Garda?
5) What are the implications of this plastic waste for humans?

Answers below!


ANSWERS!

1) Italy
2) They are accumulating in fresh water species and could get into the food chain
3) They mistake them for food
4) Water sports, tourist and fishing boats, discarded plastic products and landfill sites
5)The waters are used for drinking and agriculture

Monday, 7 October 2013

Chinas Green Wall - video lesson 21

Level: Intermediate / B1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

The Gobi Desert is spreading. Here is a six-minute video looking at how the Chinese are trying to stop it.

Watch the video and then answer the following questions:
1)  In China, how many people are threatened by desertification? (00:37 seconds into the video)
2)  What is 'the silent crisis'? (00:55)
3)  When do the enormous sandstorms occur in China? (01:12)
4)  How much forest will be planted between 2005 and 2020 ? (01:47)
5)  How far south is Beijing from the desert? (02:07)
6)  What policies does the Forestry Bureau have to protect forests? (02:24)
7)  The size of the desert has dropped from _____________ ha to ___________ ha (02:48)
8)  Why are environmentalists critical of the project? (04:33)
9)  How much water is there for each person in Beijing? (05:13)
10) How much does all the work on Beijing's rivers cost? (05:50)

Answers below!


ANSWERS:

1)  400 million
2)  Soil erosion
3)  Every spring
4)  40 million ha
5)  A day's drive south
6)  It is forbidden to graze animals on open land, they have fenced areas and used airplanes to sow seeds
7)  140,000 to 40,000
8)  They say that the trees put pressure on vital ground water
9)  120 cubic metres
10) Nearly $3bn

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Turning waves into electricity - video lesson 20

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Scientists are testing different ways of making electricity from the energy in the oceans.
Here is a short (three minute) video about wave energy.

Watch the video and then answer the following questions (focussing on numbers):
1) By when does Scotland aim to take all of its electricity from renewable sources (00:13 seconds into the video)?
2) By next year, how many homes will be powered by the device being tested (00:40)?
3) According to Neil Kermode, how much of the UK's electricity supply could be met with this technology (01:24)?
4) How many people visit the Orkneys every year (01:40)?
5) How many people does Bryan Rendell now employ (02:32)?

Answers below!



ANSWERS:
1) 2020
2) 1,500
3) 1/5th
4) 200,000
5) 11

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Brown bears in Croatia - video lesson 19

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

The brown bear population is growing in Europe. Here is a short video (three minutes) about bears in Croatia.

Watch the video and answer the following questions:
1) Who is Frans Schepers?
2) He talks about one connected bear population - which two countries does it cover?
3) How many bears are in the region?
4) How does Davor Krmpotic know that he has found a place where a bear slept?
5) Why does Frans Schepers think the bear population has increased in Europe?

Answers below!

For more about Rewilding Europe and the comeback of wild animals, visit this webpage.


ANSWERS:

1) Managing Director of Rewilding Europe
2) Slovenia and Croatia
3) 3,000
4) The grass is stamped and there are tracks of the bear
5) Hunting control and legal protection

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Typhoon, hurricane, cyclone: what's the difference?

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print this exercise

Here is a good article from National Geographic about the difference between typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:
1) What is Usagi in English?
2) How fast must a storm be to be classified as a hurricane, cyclone or typhoon?
3) When is the Atlantic hurricane season?
4) What is the Safir-Simpson scale?
5) True or false: the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has fallen since the 1970s.


Answers below!



ANSWERS:

1) Rabbit
2) 119 km/h (74 mph)
3) From 1st June until 30th November
4) A 1 to 5 rating based on the hurricanes wind speed
5) False

Super typhoon hits Hong Kong

The BBC Learning English website has a great section called Words in the news page which looks at news stories and the vocabulary in them.
There is a short text and a short listening, as well as a review of the vocabulary.
This week they look at typhoon Usagi.

To flock to - English phrase

Here is another good English phrase from the BBC's Learning English pages.
This week they look at the expression to flock to.
Do you know what it means?! Have a look and see if you are right.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Japan switches off nuclear power

The BBC Learning English website has a great section called Words in the news page which looks at news stories and the vocabulary in them.
There is a short text and a short listening, as well as a review of the vocabulary.
This week is the news that Japan has closed all it's last nuclear power station.


A whale of a time

The BBC Learning English website has a page with a new phrase every day.
A recent phrase was A whale of a time.
Do you know what it means?! Have a look!

African conservationists honoured

Level: Advanced / C1

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The Tusks Conservation Awards were presented in London last night.
Read this report about it and answer the following questions:
1) True or false: this is the first ever Tusk Conservation Awards ceremony.
2) Where in London did the awards ceremony take place?
3) When did Clive Stockil establish Save Valley reserve?
4) How big is Tom Lalampaa's conservation area?
5) Who does Alasdair Harris work for?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) True
2) The Royal Society
3) Zimbabwe
4) Three million acres
5) Blue Ventures Conservation

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mount Everest lesson plan

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Here is another good lesson from MacmIllian's Global English pages. This one looks at interesting facts and figures about Mount Everest.
There is a lesson sheet and teachers notes with answers.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Arctic winter ice decline

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

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The volume of Arctic winter sea ice continues to decline.
Read this article about it and answer the following questions:
1) Who operates Cryosat?
2) When are marine ice floes at their thickest?
3) When was Cryosat launched?
4) What is the part of the ice above the waterline called?
5) How high is Cryosat above the Earth?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!
1) The European Space Agency
2) March/April
3) 2010
4) Freeboard
5) 717km

Monday, 9 September 2013

Recycling and upcycling lesson plan

Level: Intermediate / B2

Here is another good lesson from MacmIllian's Global English pages. It is about recycling and upcycling.
There is a lesson sheet and teachers notes with answers.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Eating invasive species: video lesson 18

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

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What should we do with invasive species? Eating them is one option!
Here is a short video (three minutes) about the Northern Snakehead Fish in the USA.
Watch the video and then answer the following questions:
1) How many rows of teeth do the fish have?
2) Where is the fish originally from?
3) How did it get to America?
4) Who is John Rorapaug?
5) True of false: this fish can walk on land.


Answers below!






ANSWERS!
1) Two
2) Asia
3) Nobody know for sure
4) Director of Sustainabiliity, ProFish
5) False (they slither like a snake)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Reintroduced white-tailed eagle pair raise chick

Level: Advanced / C1

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The White-tailed Eagle has bred in Scotland for the first time in 200 years.
Read this article about it and then answer the following questions:
1) When did the reintroduction programme begin?
2) Who is Stuart Housden?
3) Which people are not happy about the reintroduction of the Eagle?
4) How much has the project cost?
5) What is the other name for the White-tailed Eagle?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!
1) 1975
2) The Director of RSPB Scotland
3) Some farmers and crofters
4) £452,000
5) The Sea Eagle

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

No deal on Antarctic marine reserves

Level: Advanced / C1

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Talks to establish marine reserves in the Antarctic have failed.
Read this article about it and then answer the following questions:
1) What is the CCLMAR?
2) Where was the latest meeting held?
3) When and where is the next meeting going to be held?
4) How big was the proposed protected area in the Ross Sea?
5) Why are krill so important?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!


1) Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 
2) Bremerhaven
3) Hobart, 23 October - 1 November
4) 2.3 million square km
5) They are a key element of the ecosystem as part of the diet of whales, penguins, seals and sea birds

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Germany's renewable energy

Level: Proficiency / C2

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Can Germany afford it's renewable energy policy?
Here is an interesting article which discusses the issue.

Read the article and then answer these questions:
1) How many renewable energy producers are there in Germany?
2) What is 'energiewende'?
3) Why did German CO2 emissions go up in 2012?
4) In 2012 how much of the UK's energy came from photovoltaics?
5) By 2050 the German government wants to cut electricity consumption by how much?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!


1) 1.3 million
2) Energy transformation
3) Increased use of brown coal
4) 1.8GW or 2%
5) 40%

Monday, 8 July 2013

Invasive species

Level: Upper Intermediate / B2

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The UK Environment Agency has compiled a list of the top ten invasive species.
Read this short photo article about them and then answer the following questions:
1) Why is Giant Hogweed a problem?
2) Where did American Mink escape from?
3) How much damage does Japanese Knotweed cause every year?
4) What is Dikerogammarus villosus better known as?
5) How tall can Himalayan Balsam grow?



Answers below!




ANSWERS!



1) The sap can cause blisters on human skin.
2) Fur farms.
3) 150 million pounds.
4) Killer shrimp
5) 3 metres

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Unprecedented climate extremes

Level: Advanced / C1

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We experienced unprecedented climate extremes in the last decade, according to a report from the World Meteorological Association (WMO).
Here is a BBC article about it. Read the article and then answer the following questions:
1) When did Europe have an extreme summer?
2) True or false: there was an increase in deaths from floods in the study period.
3) How fast did global mean sea levels rise?
4) Why does the WMO think temperatures are rising?
5) When was the warmest year ever recorded?

Answers below!

Update:
There is also a short video on this story.


Finally, what do you think? Are you a climate sceptic or are you worried about the issue?



ANSWERS!


1) 2003 (Russia 2010)
2) False
3) About 3mm per year
4) Greenhouse gases from human activity
5) 2010

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A big fish in a small pond

The BBC Learning English website has a page with a new phrase every day.
Today's phrase is A Big fish in a small pond.
Know what it means?! Have a look.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Oak Processionary Moth - video lesson 17

Level: Advanced / C1

The Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) is causing problems in the British countryside. Here is a short video (two minutes) about attempts to control it in a copse (small woodland) in Berkshire.

Watch the video and then answer these questions:
1) When did the moth appear in this copse?
2) Why is the moth a problem? (Two things are mentioned.)
3) What did the Forestry Commission spray the copse with?
4) Which rare species of butterfly are conservationists worried about?
5) How long will the Forestry Commissions monitoring programme be?

Answers below!




ANSWERS!


1) Five years ago
2) They strip leaves from the tree and their hairs carry a strong toxin
3) A biopesticide
4) Purple Emperor and White Admiral
5) Five years

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Biology quiz: grammar lesson 12


Level: Upper Intermediate / B2

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Quantifiers - biology quiz


A:        Complete the quiz with the following quantifiers:
 some, any, every, no, all, few, both – and, either – or, neither – nor

B:        Decide if the sentences are true or false.


1.         ________ animal belonging to the reptile family has cold blood.
2.         ________ insects have wings and six legs.
3.         ________ African ________ Indian elephants can swim.
4.         There are ________ snakes in Iceland.
5.         Jellyfish don’t have ________ a mouth ________ a sense of smell.
6.         ________ clams start as males and then ________ become females.  
7.         ________ animals can regrow ________ part of their bodies.
8.         Polar bears can live ________ in the USA ________ Greenland.
9.         ________ monkeys are colour blind.
10.       ________ bats can walk, because their leg bones are too thin.
11.       ________ crocodiles ________ alligators have the same number of teeth.
12.       ________ wild birds survive for more than a year.
13.       ________ bears hibernate every winter.
14.       ________ toads ________ frogs can jump well, but toads can jump even higher.
15.       Giraffes do not have ________ vocal chords. They ________ communicate with their tails.
Adapted from New English File Upper Intermediate OUP

Answers below!



Answers!


1          Every animal belonging to the reptile family has cold blood.
            T
2          All insects have wings and six legs.
            F – they all have six legs but not all insects have wings, e.g. lice, fleas.
3          Neither African nor Indian elephants can swim.
F – all elephants are great swimmers, and can swim for up to 48km, at a speed of up to 2.70km/h.
4          There are no snakes in Iceland.
            T – they wouldn’t be able to survive the low temperatures.
5          Jellyfish don’t have either a mouth or a sense of smell.
            F – they have both.
6          All clams start as males and then some become females. 
            T
7          No animals can regrow any part of their bodies.
F – e.g. lizards can regrow their tails, and if you cut a starfish into pieces, each piece will grow into a whole new starfish.
8          Polar bears can live both in the USA and Greenland.
            T – there are polar bears in Alaska and in Greenland.
9          All monkeys are colour blind.
            F – most can see either two or three colours.
10        No bats can walk, because their leg bones are too thin.
            F – most bats aren’t able to walk, but vampire bats can both walk and run.
11        Both crocodiles and alligators have the same number of teeth.
            F – crocodiles have 68–70 and alligators 80–88.
12        Few wild birds survive for more than a year.
            T
13        All bears hibernate every winter.
            F – pandas don’t hibernate at all.
14        Both toads and frogs can jump well, but toads can jump even higher.
            F – toads can only hop, whereas frogs can jump quite far.
15        Giraffes do not have any vocal chords. They all communicate with their tails.
F – they communicate by emitting low-frequency sounds which most humans can’t hear.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Articles - grammar lesson 11

Level: Upper Intermediate / B2

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Articles – general knowledge quiz


A:        Complete the quiz with a, an, the or – (zero article).

B:        See how many questions you can answer.

1          Which planet is nearest to ______ Sun?
2          What type of fruit is ______ cantaloupe?
3          How many states are there in ______ USA?
4          In which sea would you find ______ Balearic Islands?
5          Which animal is ______ symbol of ______ WWF?
6          What is ______ 40% of 40?
7          What was ______ name of ______ Tarzan’s monkey?
8          What country is ______ Lake Como in?
9          What’s ______ highest mountain in ______ Himalayas?
10        Who was ______ second person to walk on ______ Moon?
11        How many players can be on court in ______ volleyball team?
12        Which nation first gave ______ women ______ right to vote?
13        Which animals were domesticated first, ______ cats or ______ dogs?
14        Which European country hasn’t fought in ______ war since ______ 1815?
15        What is ______ largest man-made structure on ______ Earth?
16        What vegetable is ______ vodka often made from?
17        Is ______ spider ______ insect?
18        What colour is ______ black box on ______ plane?
19        What’s ______ sacred river in ______ India called?
20        Which travels faster, ______ light or ______ sound?
Adapted from New English File Upper Intermediate OUP
Answers below!




ANSWERS!
1          Which planet is nearest to __the__ Sun?
            Mercury
2          What type of fruit is __a___ cantaloupe?
            a melon
3          How many states are there in __the__ USA?
            50
4          In which sea would you find __the__ Balearic Islands?
            the Mediterranean
5          Which animal is __the__ symbol of __the__ WWF?
            the panda
6          What is __ -__ 40% of 40?
            16
7          What was __the__ name of ___-__ Tarzan’s monkey?
            Cheeta(h)
8          What country is ___-__ Lake Como in?
            Italy
9          What’s __the__ highest mountain in __the__ Himalayas?
            Mount Everest
10        Who was __the__ second person to walk on __the__ Moon?
            Buzz Aldrin
11        How many players can be on court in __a___ volleyball team?
            6
12        Which nation first gave __-___ women __the__ right to vote?
            New Zealand
13        Which animals were domesticated first, __-___ cats or __-___ dogs?
            dogs
14        Which European country hasn’t fought in __a___ war since __-___ 1815?
            Switzerland
15        What is __the__ largest man-made structure on __-___ Earth?
            The Great Wall of China
16        What vegetable is __-___ vodka often made from?
            potatoes
17        Is __a/the__ spider __an__ insect?
            no – it’s an arachnid
18        What colour is __the__ black box on __a __ plane?
            orange
19        What’s __the__ sacred river in __-___ India called?
            the Ganges
20        Which travels faster, __-___ light or __-___ sound?
            light