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

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Polar bears and Arctic ice - listening lesson 4

Level: Advanced / C1

Some great photos is this BBC slideshow about polar bears.

Warning: there are some graphic images in the slideshow.

Listen to the commentary (five minutes long) and answer the following questions:
1) How long has Andrew Derocher been studying polar bears?
2) Where has Jenny E Ross photographed polar bears (five places)?
3) What is the young polar bear doing on the steep cliff (two minutes into the slideshow)?
4) ''Polar bears are attracted by the smell of human                      and                        .''
5) True or false: Jenny E Ross says we are going to lose the winter sea ice n the Arctic.

Answers below!


1) Thirty years.
2) Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway and Russia.
3) Looking for food (bird eggs).
4) ''Polar bears are attracted by the smell of human food and garbage .''
5) False. (We will lose summer sea ice.)

Friday, 22 March 2013

Earth Hour 23 March 2013

Level: Intermediate / B1

Tomorrow at 8:30 pm is Earth Hour.
Go to the Earth Hour website and find the answers to the following questions:
1) True or false: Earth hour is at the same time all over the world.
2) Where did the first Earth Hour start? (see Earth Hour history)
3) Who is Pocoyo? (see Earth Hour friends)
4) How many finalists are there in the Earth Hour City Challenge?
5) Where is the world's first Earth Hour forest? (see about Earth Hour)

Answers below!


1) It is at 8:30 pm local time (i.e. where you are!).
2) Sydney.
3) Earth Hour's first global kids' ambassador.
4) Seventeen.
5) Uganda.

Click here for some Earth Hour photos on the BBC

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

River and water - vocabulary lesson

Level: Advanced / C1

Think you know your geographical vocabulary?
Try this test and see how good you are!
(Please use the 'Print Friendly' icon below if you want to print a copy of the test)

River and water vocabulary test
What word matches these definitions? The first letter is given.
E.g.      A low area of land between hills or mountains           valley              
1.         A very large expanse of sea                                            o                     
2.         A piece of land surrounded by water                             i                      
3.         A piece of land almost surrounded by water                 p                     
4.         Where a river starts                       s                        or   s                      
5.         Where a river enters the sea  m                 or  d                or e                   
6.         A river flowing into a larger river or lake                       t                      
7.         Where two rivers meet                                                    c                     
8.         A small river  s                       or     b                         or    c                     
9.         A river of ice                                                                     g                     
10.       The level below which the ground is saturated with water     w                    

11.       Water held underground in the soil or in rock                             g                     

12.       A body of permeable rock which can contain water                  a                     

Definitions from

Answers below!


1. ocean
2. island
3. peninsula
4. source or spring
5. mouth, delta or estuary
6. tributary
7. confluence
8. stream, brook (GB) or creek (US/Aus)
9. glacier
10. water table
11. groundwater
12. aquifer

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

World Water Day lesson plan

Macmillan Global produce many good lessons for English teachers.
Here is a lesson for World Water Day. You can download the lesson plan and teachers notes as a pdf.
I used it on Monday with an intermediate group and the students really enjoyed it.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Water consumption and food production

Friday 22 March is UN World Water Day.
So this week I want to give you some lessons with a water theme.

Firstly, here is an article from the Guardian newspaper looking at how much water is used to produce the food we eat.

Read the article and then answer the following questions:
1) What percentage of food is wasted?
2) What is the IME?
3) How many cubic metres of water is used annually by humans?
4) Which type of meat uses the least amount of water to produce?
5) True or false: 1 kg of potatoes needs more water to produce than 1 kg of rice.

Answers below!


1) 50%
2) Institution of Mechanical Engineers
3) 3.8 tn (trillion)
4) Chicken
5) False

Sunday, 17 March 2013

First conditional - grammar lesson 8

Level: Pre-intermediate / A2

First conditional - global warming

Write sentences using if.... , ... will...

The Earth gets warmer
            If the Earth gets warmer, the sea will get warmer
The sea gets warmer
           If the sea gets warmer, 
The ice at the North and South poles melts,
Sea levels rise,
There are floods around the world,
Many people lose their homes,
And (your own example)

Adapted from New Headway Pre-intermediate OUP

Answers below!


The Earth gets warmer
            If the Earth gets warmer, the sea will get warmer
The sea gets warmer
           If the sea gets warmer, the ice at the North and South Poles will melt
The ice at the North and South poles melts
          If the ice at the North and South Poles melts, sea levels will rise
Sea levels rise
          If sea levels rise, there will be floods around the world
There are floods around the world,
          If there are floods around the world, many people will lose their homes
Many people lose their homes,
          If many people lose their homes, there will be lots of emigration.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Fracking and environmentalists

Level: Proficiency /C2

Here is an interesting article from the Guardian newspaper about fracking and why environmentalists should accept it.
Read the article and answer the following questions:
1) What is the full name for fracking?
2) America's carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest since when?
3) True or false: Coal's share of the energy supply grew by 25-03% in the last ten years.
4) What is Dieter Helm's new book called?
5) Who is Angela Merkel's climate adviser?

Answers below!


1) Hydraulic fracturing
2) 1992
3) False: Coal's share of the energy supply grew by 25-03% in the last FIVE years.
4) The Carbon Crunch
5) John Scnellnhuber

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Skiing and national parks in Kazakhstan - video lesson 13

Level: Advanced / C1

The skiing industry in Kazakhstan wants to develop in a national park, but will it cause environmental problems?
Watch this five minute BBC video 'The lungs of Almaty' and answer the following questions (they are focussed on numbers):
1) How many people live in Almaty?
2) How many world records were set at Medeo ice rink in the 1950s?
3) ''Shymbulak is located                 metres above sea level and has an annual average snowfall of                     metres.''
4) According to Mark Burnell, ski resorts in Colorado have been in operation for how many years?
5) ''The new Kok Zhailau development is projected to cost an initial               US dollars.''

Answers below!


1) 1.5 million
2) Over 47
3) ''Shymbulak is located 2260 metres above sea level and has an annual average snowfall of 1.5 metres.''
4) 20, 30, 40years
5) 450 million

Monday, 11 March 2013

Animals 2 - crossword

Here is a new crossword from one of our favourite sites - BBC Learning English.
This time it is another one about animals. There are some good idioms and interesting vocabulary to learn.

EU bans animal testing

Level: Advanced / C1

An EU ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals has come into effect. Read this short article about it and answer the following questions:
1) How many countries are in the EU?
2) True or false: products tested on animals outside the EU can still be sold in the EU
3) Which famous people helped the animal rights groups?
4) What is the ECEAE?
5) Why are cosmetic companies concerned about the ban?

Answers below!


1) 27
2) False
3) Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Siena Miller
4) European Coalition to End Animal Experiments
5) It could put Europe at a competitive disadvantage in a global market.

Shark protection

Level: Advanced / C1

The CITES meeting in Bangkok has voted to protect more species of shark.
Read this BBC article 'Historic' day for shark protection and then answer the following questions:
1) What is CITES?
2) What are shark fins used for?
3) True or false: Appendix 2 of CITES bans the trade in animals
4) Which part of the world has seen its shark fisheries destroyed?
5) Where are Porbeagles found?

Answers below!


1) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
2) Soup.
3) False: Appendix 2 regulates it, not bans it.
4) West Africa
5) Cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

When will our global resources run out?

Level: Advanced /C1

Here is an interesting (and worrying!) article from the BBC about how much we have left of our global resources.
Read the article and answer the following questions:
1) What is a stock check?
2) In how many year's time will we run out of silver?
3) In which year will we run out of oil?
4) When will we run out of all fossil fuels?
5) True or false: the Brazilian rainforests will disappear before the Indonesian rainforests?

Answers below!


1) To make an appraisal/list of resources, to record the amount of stock held by a business ('stocktaking' is a more common word for this).
2) 17
3) 2049
4) 2054
5) False