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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

Monday, 21 October 2013

How to cut the cost of your energy bill

Level: Intermediate / B1
Looking at numbers

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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