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 260 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

''... to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed''
P.M. Roget, lexicographer, 1779-1869

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

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

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

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

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

 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!



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!

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!


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!


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