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

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!


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

Please use the 'Print friendly' icon if you want to print this exercise.

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!


1          Every animal belonging to the reptile family has cold blood.
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. 
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.
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.