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

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Peru's glaciers melting quickly

Level: Intermediate B1

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Glaciers in Peru are melting very quickly.
What does that mean for the people who live there? Watch this short (two minute) video too find out.
When you have watched the video, answer the following questions:

1) How many people depend on the glaciers?
2) How much have the glaciers reduced in the last four decades?
3) What do locals use the glacier water for?
4) How much has the temperature in the Andes increased by since 1951?
5) Where is the current climate conference being held?


Answers below!


ANSWERS!

1) 30 m (thirty million)
2) 40% in four decades
3) Hydro power and irrigation
4) 1.75 degrees Celsius
5) Lima

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Plastic in the oceans

The build up of plastic in the oceans is one of our biggest environmental problems.
But how much do you know about it?
Here is a great article about the problem, written by Morgana Mattus from FIX.

Plastic Build Up in Our Oceans



Major deltas could be drowned

Level: Intermediate B1

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The world's river deltas are under threat. Read this article to find out why.
When you have read the article, answer the following questions:

1) Why are deltas under threat?
2) How many people live in deltas?
3) How are deltas formed?
4) Which delta is the most extensive wetland in the EU?
5) True or false: the UK has many deltas?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) Rising sea levels and river engineering
2) 0.5 bn (half a billion)
3) Rivers depositing sediment faster than the sea can remove it
4) The Danube delta
5) False

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Wastewater treatment

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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Do you know what wastewater is and how it is treated? Here is a great article about it.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) What is wastewater?
2) Why do we need to treat it?
3) What three types of process can be used to treat wastewater?
4) In India, what is the main focus of water pollution control?
5) In India, which simple techniques can save thousands of lives?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) Water which is polluted, contaminated or affected in quality
2) So that it can meet quality standards
3) Physical, chemical and biological
4) Controlling waterborne diseases
5) Filtration and chlorination



Sunday, 16 November 2014

How almonds are sucking California dry

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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California's worst drought for over a century is causing big problems for farmers and residents.
Read this BBC article about the situation.
You can also download the podcast.

Read and/or listen to the article, then answer the following questions:
1) How much water do almonds farmers need?
2) What are people doing to their gardens to cope with the drought?
3) For how many years has California had this drought?
4) How much of the world's supply of almonds comes from California?
5) Which country is the biggest market for the almonds?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) A trillion gallons per year
2) Installing succulent plants and ground cover 
3) This is the third year
4) 80%
5) China

Monday, 3 November 2014

Elephants - mega-gardeners of the forest

Level: Upper-intermediate B2
Use of adjectives

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Here is another great video from the BBC's Power of Nature series, this time about the Congo and elephants.

Watch the video (four minutes long) and then complete the sentences below. You need to fill the gaps with adjectives.
1) ''...one of the                                      and                                   tropical rainforests'' (00:04 in the video)
2) ''...and at its heart is an                                             giant.'' (00:17)
3) ''...one of the                      -                     wild places of our world.'' (00:30)
4) ''...the diversity of species that make up the forest is a                                       characteristic.'' (01:14)
5) ''...and they do that by wrapping the seed in a                         ,                             ,                          packet...'' (01:37)

Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) ''...one of the   largest  and  richest  tropical rainforests'' (00:04 in the video)
2) ''...and at its heart is an  enigmatic  giant.'' (00:17)
3) ''...one of the  life-giving  wild places of our world.'' (00:30)
4) ''...the diversity of species that make up the forest is a  fundamental  characteristic.'' (01:14)
5) ''...and they do that by wrapping the seed in a  nice  ,  little  ,  tasty  packet...'' (01:37)

Monday, 29 September 2014

Don't buy wild-caught salmon

Level: Advanced C1

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Do you know which fish you should buy and which you should avoid?
Here is a report from the Guardian's environment section about sustainable seafood.

First, before reading, find out what these fish are:

  • Salmon (Atlantic)
  • Mackerel
  • Whiting
  • Cod (Atlantic)
  • Plaice (European)
  • Halibut (Atlantic)
  • Dover/Common Sole
  • Mediterranean Tuna (Albacore)
  • Scampi
  • Sea Bass (European)
  • Turbot
  • Lobster (European)
  • Crab (Edible)


Now, read the article and then answer these questions:

1) What is the MCS?
2) Why does it tells us not to eat wild-caught salmon?
3) Which fish are back on the 'Fish to eat' list?
4) True or false: all cod can be eaten?
5) Where is the most sustainable crab from?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) Marine Conservation Society
2) Because of depleted stock due to over-fishing
3) Mackerel, herring and halibut
4) False - only cod from the north-east Arctic, east Baltic and Iceland
5) The Western Channel and the Celtic Sea

Monday, 22 September 2014

Urban gardening takes root in Prague

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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Urban or community gardening is becoming increasingly popular. But how much do you know about it? This lesson is based on a report on Radio Prague.

Listen to (and read) this report about urban gardening in Prague and then answer these questions:

1) When did Prague's first community garden open?
2) When does the season usually open at the garden?
3) Apart from growing things, what is the other aim of Prazelenina?
4) How is Kokoza different from Prazelenina?
5) According to Anita Blahušová, what plants are the best to start with?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) 2011
2) Mid-April
3) To bring the community together
4) Social work, ecology, employing disabled people
5) Herbs

Monday, 15 September 2014

Alien and invasive species in the UK

Level: Advanced C1

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Many strange species have made their home in the UK. But what are they and why are they a problem?
What invasive species are a problem in your country?

Read this article about invasive species and then answer these questions:

1) Why did terrapins become popular in the UK?
2) What species of snake has been found on the banks of the Regent's Canal?
3) What was captured in the Forest of Dean in 2009?
4) Which exotic bird species is now common in London?
5) Which two species have been reintroduced in the west of England?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) Because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze
2) Aesculapian snakes
3) A young skunk
4) Parakeet
5) (Eurasian) Beaver and Wild Boar

Monday, 8 September 2014

Shubhendu Sharma: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere

Level: Advanced C1

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Here is another great TED talk.

This time it is about growing trees anywhere.
Remember, you can turn on subtitles and view the transcript of the talk.
Watch the video (four minutes) and then answer these questions:

1) Why did Dr. Akira Miyawaki visit the Toyota factory?
2) What benefits did Shubhendu Sharma get from his garden forest after two years?
3) How many trees can they plant in an area of six cars?
4) How does he stop irrigation water from evaporating?
5) How is Shubhendu Sharma going to share his methodology?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) To make a forest in it to make it carbon neutral.
2) The groundwater didn't dry in summer, bird species doubled, quality of air improved, harvested fruits.
3) 300
4) Grass or rice straw covers the soil.
5) Using an open-source internet platform.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Million, milliard or billion?

Level: Intermediate B1

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Confused about millions, milliards and billions?!
Read on! 


Millions and billions

The long and short scales are two large-number naming systems used throughout the world. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries use the short scale.

Long scale is the English translation of the French term échelle longue. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is a million times the previous term. Thus, billion means a million millions (1012), trillion means a million billions (1018), and so on.
Short scale is the English translation of the French term échelle courte. It refers to a system of large-number names in which every new term greater than million is 1,000 times the previous term. Thus, billion means a thousand millions (109), trillion means a thousand billions (1012), and so on
For integers less than a thousand million (<109), the two scales are identical. At and above a thousand million (≥109), the two scales diverge by using the same words for different number values. These "false friends" can be a source of misunderstanding!

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the UK used the long scale, while the USA used the short scale. In 1974, the UK government switched to the short scale.

Scientific         Numerals               Short Scale                 Long Scale
notation                                         (English)                      (non-English)
100                   1                                       one                              one
101                   10                                     ten                               ten
102                   100                                   hundred                       hundred
103                   1,000                                thousand                     thousand
104                   10,000                              ten thousand               ten thousand
105                   100,000                            hundred thousand       hundred thousand
106                   1,000,000                         million                         million
109                   1,000,000,000                  billion                          thousand million/milliard
1012                  1,000,000,000,000           trillion                          billion



Thursday, 14 August 2014

Second conditional - grammar lesson 15

Level: Intermediate B1

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Second conditional

DISCUSSION       What would you do...?

1) ...if you were in a river and suddenly saw a crocodile swimming towards you?
a) I would try to swim to the bank as quickly as possible.
b) I wouldn’t move and I’d wait for the crocodile to go away.
c) I would try to hit the crocodile in the face.

2) ...if you were in a forest a very large bear came towards you?
a) I would climb up the nearest tree.
b) I would lie on the ground and pretend to be dead.
c) I would run away as fast as I could.

3) ...if you were in a field and a bull started running towards you?
a) I would run.
b) I would throw something in another direction.
c) I would shout and wave my arms.

GRAMMAR         if + past, would + infinitive
1) Is the crocodile situation (a) one which could easily happen to you OR (b) one which is not very probable?
2) What verb tense goes after if?     
3) What is the form of the other verbs in the question and the answer?

PRACTICE           Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verbs in brackets.
1) If I     had         (have) a bike, I    would cycle                          (cycle) to work.
2) If I                      (see) a tarantula, I                                               (be) terrified!
3) I                                           (not know) what to do if I                                  (find) a mouse in my kitchen.
4) What                                  you                         (do) if you                             (see) bear?
5) I                                           (go) on a safari to Kenya if I                             (have) enough money.

PRACTICE           Order the words to complete the sentences and questions.
1) I’d / shark / be / frightened / very
If I saw a               shark I’d be very frightened                                                                              .
2) saw / you / a / bear / if / do / you / would
What                                                                                                                                                       ?
3) he / if / sailing / could / swim
He’d go                                                                                                                                                   .
4) long / lottery / holiday / won / she’d / the / on / go / a
If she                                                                                                                                                       .
5) if / go / on / were/ I / you / safari
I’d                                                                                                                                                            .


Adapted from New English File Pre-intermediate OUP




Answers below!




ANSWERS!

GRAMMAR         if + past, would + infinitive
1) Is the crocodile situation (a) one which could easily happen to you OR (b) one which is not very probable?
(a)
2) What verb tense goes after if?     
past simple
3) What is the form of the other verbs in the question and the answer?
the infinitive

PRACTICE           Complete the sentences with the correct form of the verbs in brackets.
1) If I     had         (have) a bike, I    would cycle   (cycle) to work.
2) If I     saw     (see) a tarantula, I   would be   (be) terrified!
3) I    would not know    (not know) what to do if I  found     (find) a mouse in my kitchen.
4) What   would   you   do   (do) if you   saw   (see) bear?
5) I    would go    (go) on a safari to Kenya if I   had   (have) enough money.

PRACTICE           Order the words to complete the sentences and questions.
1) I’d / shark / be / frightened / very
If I saw a     shark I’d be very frightened  .
2) saw / you / a / bear / if / do / you / would
What   would you do if you saw a bear  ?
3) he / if / sailing / could / swim
He’d go    sailing if he could swim   .
4) long / lottery / holiday / won / she’d / the / on / go / a
If she  won the lottery she'd go on a long holiday   .
5) if / go / on / were/ I / you / safari


I’d  go on a safari if I were you    .

Monday, 11 August 2014

World Elephant Day

Level: Intermediate B1

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Tuesday 12th August is World Elephant Day!
But how much do you know about them?


1) How many species of elephant are there?
2) True or false - there are more Asian elephants than African elephants.
3) What is CITES?
4) Which country is the main market for ivory?
5) How long is the gestation period of an elephant? (go to page 2 for this one)


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) Traditionally two, but evidence suggests that there are two species in Africa.
2) False
3) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna
4) China
5) Up to two years.


Please note, this lesson has changed because the original website (http://worldelephantday.org/) has closed down.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Cloud appreciation - ten-minute TED talk


Level: Advanced / C1

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How often do you look up at the clouds? You should do it more often because there's lots to see and they help you to relax!

Here is a great talk (ten minutes long) about clouds by Gavin-Pretor-Pinney of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
It is on TED, a great site for listening to English. You can turn on the subtitles and see the transcript.

Watch and listen to the talk, then answer these questions:

1) What English idiom does he mention which describes when someone is down or depressed?
2) And which idiom is used when bad news is in store?
3) Aristophanes described clouds as the goddesses of what?
4) What does the photo of sunlight bursting out of the clouds look like?
5) What type of cloud is named after the Latin for a lock of hair?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) Under a cloud
2) A cloud on the horizon
3) Idle fellows
4) Two cats dancing a salsa
5) Cirrus

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Language of Maps

Level: Intermediate B1

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Do you know how to read a map?
Do you know the vocabulary of maps?

Here is a good article which summarises the main vocabulary associated with maps.
Read the article and then answer the following questions

1) What is at 66 33 south?
2) What are the cardinal directions?
3) What do we call the lines parallel to the equator?
4) Which Tropic is further north, Cancer or Capricorn?
5) What is the name of the projection used by the National Geographic Society?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) The Antarctic Circle
2) North, south, east and west
3) The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
4) The Tropic of Cancer
5) Winkel Tripel

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Three Przewalski’s horses flown from Czech Republic to their homeland

Level: Intermediate B1

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Three Przewalski's horses from Prague Zoo have been flown to Mongolia to begin a new life in their country of origin.
Read this article about it from Horsetalk.co.nz, then answer the following questions:

1) Are the horses male or female?
2) How many times has the Zoo sent horses to Mongolia?
3) Where will the horse's new home be?
4) Why did the horses almost become extinct?
5) Who is the horse species named after?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!


1) Female (mare is female)
2) Four
3) Gobi B National Park
4) Hunting and pressure from agriculture
5) Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mammal Photographer of the Year

Level: Intermediate B1

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The winners of this year's Mammal Photographer of the Year Award have been announced by the Mammal Society.

The 20 winners and finalists can be seen on Flickr.

Here is a selection of the images on the BBC nature website. Have a look at them and the text that goes with them, then answer the following questions:
1) What has had an impact on Brown Hare populations?
2) In what way are Roe Deer different to other deer?
3) How many of the world's Common Seals live in the UK?
4) Which animal has had a devastating impact on Water Voles?
5) How many insects can a Pipestrelle Bat eat in one night?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!


1) Changes in farming methods
2) They do not live in herds
3) Around 5%
4) American Mink
5) 3,000

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Earth Hour English lesson

Level: Upper-intermediate to Advanced / B2 - C1

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The British Council have produced a great English lesson for Earth Hour.

Go to this link for the lesson.
Watch the two-minute video - with Spiderman!
Then check your understanding and answer the questions under it.
You can also add your comments to the discussion.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Animal idioms and phrases

Level: Advanced / C1

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There are a lot of idioms and phrases in English. Many of them have animals in them.

Do you know what these ones mean?

1) Wise old owl


2) Chicken out


3) Catty


4) Horse around


5) The cat's whiskers


Answers below!



ANSWERS!
(From BBC Learning English)

1) Wise old owl - very experienced in life.

2) Chicken out - to fail to do something, or not try to do it, because you are afraid.

3) Catty - using sly words or remarks which are intended to hurt someone.

4) Horse around - to behave in a silly way, making noise and causing disruption.

5) The cat's whiskers - to be better than everybody else.


Do you know any other animal idioms?!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Science close up - Wellcome Images 2014

Level: Proficiency / C2

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The annual Wellcome Image Awards celebrate the best in science imaging. 
Watch this short video (five minutes) and enjoy some amazing images.

Now answer the following questions:
1) What is the creature in the first image?
2) Why do ticks have to be removed carefully? (00:35 seconds into the video)
3) What does the specialised MRI scan measure? (00:53)
4) How many x-ray images were taken off the jaw? (01:43)
5) How big is the kidney stone? (02:11)
6) What do the purple cells indicate in the cancer image? (02:40)
7) In the lily flower bud, how many egg cells are there? (03:20)
8) What species of bat is shown (04:02)
9) What elements are being measured in the sludge? (04:18)
10) What is the winning image?


Answers below!


ANSWERS

1) A nit (a head louse egg)
2) Some of the feeding parts can remain embedded in the skin
3) The movement of water
4) 4,800
5) 2 mm wide
6) Cell death
7) Six
8) Brown Long-eared bat
9) Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur
10) A scan of a patient with a mechanical heart pump

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Exosuit promises to take ocean explorers to new depths

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Vocabulary practice


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Deep sea exploration is set to take a big step forward with the creation of an advanced exosuit, designed to take a free-diving human deeper than ever before.

Watch this short video (two minutes) to find out more, then answer the following questions:
1) Where was the suit officially unveiled?
2) How deep an a human go in the suit?
3) How much deeper than conventional recreational scuba?
4) Why are scientists interested in bioluminescence?
5) Where will the suit be used in July?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!


1) The American Museum of History, New York
2) 1,000 feet
3) Ten times the depth
4) Biomedicine - bioluminescence proteins could be adapted for use in humans
5) In a canyon off the coast of New England

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

How salmon help keep a rainforest alive

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Vocabulary practice

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Another visit to the BBC's Power of Nature series. This video is called Salmon: Heart of the forest and it looks at how this fish helps the Great Bear Rainforest to survive.

Watch the video (four minutes long) and then answer the following questions:
1)  What does the forest do to the air and water?
2)  Which coast of Canada is the forest on?
3)  Why do the salmon swim up the rivers and creeks?
4)  Where do the bears eat the fish?
5)  How much of the nitrogen in the trees comes from the salmon?



Answers below!



ANSWERS!
1)  It cleanses the air; it stores and purifies water.
2)  The Pacific.
3)  To spawn (and then die).
4)  Deep in the forest.
5)  80%.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Vultures - nature's cleaners

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

Vocabulary practice

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Here is another great video from the BBC's Power of Nature series. Called Vulture: Earth's clean up crew it looks at the effects of the loss of vultures in India

The video (four minutes long) and the text with it have some interesting vocabulary.
What do the following words mean:
1)  scavenger
2)  purify
3)  soaring
4)  undertaker
5)  carcass
6)  livestock
7)  feral dog
8)  rabies
9)  rotting
10) extinction


Answers below!




ANSWERS!
The answers are taken from the Oxford on-line dictionary.

1)  scavenger
an animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse
2)  purify
remove contaminants from
3)  soaring
flying or rising high in the air
4)  undertaker
a person whose business is preparing dead bodies for burial or cremation and making arrangements for funerals
5)  carcass
the dead body of an animal
6)  livestock
farm animals regarded as an asset
7)  feral dog
in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication
8)  rabies
a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals, transmissible through the saliva to humans and causing madness and convulsions. Also called hydrophobia.
9)  rotting
the process of decaying
10) extinction
the state or process of being or becoming extinct
(extinct: (of a species, family, or other larger group) having no living members).

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone

Level: Intermediate / B1

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Here is another great video from the BBC's Power of Nature series. Called Wolves: Forest Stewards it looks at the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

Watch the video (four minutes long) and read the text with it, then answer the following questions:
1) When did wolves become extinct in Yellowstone?
2) Why were wolves reintroduced to the Park?
3) Which tree species started coming back?
4) What effect did the returning trees have?
5) What other species returned?


Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) In the 1920s / Over 70 years ago
2) To manage the rising population of Elk (Cervus canadensis)
Note: This is the American Elk, similar to the European Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) . In Europe the Elk is what Americans call Moose (Alces alces)
3) Cottonwoods, Aspens, Poplars.
4) They stabilised the river banks, slowing and cleaning the water.
5) Beavers.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sea otters: Saving kelp forests and our climate

Level: Intermediate / B1

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Here is a great video (four minutes long) from the BBCs Power of Nature series about sea otters and the kelp forests.

Watch the video and then answer the following questions:
1) Where are the kelp forests in this video?
2) Where do the otters sleep?
3) How do kelp forests help us? (three reasons)
4) Which creature makes up the 'hungry army'?
5) How much the carbon storage 'service' of the kelp forest worth in monetary terms?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) North Pacific
2) In the kelp forest
3) they a) provide a habitat for fish, b) protect the coat against storms and cyclones, c) absorb carbon
4) Sea urchins
5) 200-400 million dollars per annum

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Czech drivers increasingly saving on petrol and switching to cheaper bio-fuels

Level: Advanced / C1.1

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Here is a lesson on driving and fuel prices. It is adapted from a article on Czech Radio. You can also listen to it with this link:
http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-drivers-increasingly-saving-on-petrol-and-switching-to-cheaper-bio-fuels


A: Firstly, discuss/think about these questions:
1         How many kilometres do you drive per week/month?
2         Are you driving more or less than in the past?
3         What is happening with petrol prices in your country?

B: Check the meaning of these words before reading the article below:
               1          spark
               2          fluctuation
               3          dip
               4          tank
               5          straitened
               6          slump
               7          adapt
               8          modify
               9          hail
               10        autonomous

C: Read the article and then answer these questions:
               1          By how much have petrol sales dropped in the last five years?
               2          How much Natural 95 can you buy with 500 crowns now?
               3          How many car owners have adapted their vehicles over the last five years?
               4          How much fuel does Czech Post expect to save by using CNG vehicles?

D: What do the following phrasal verbs and expressions mean?
               1          take account of (paragraph 2)
               2          contribute to (paragraph 3)
               3          pay off (paragraph 6)
               4          last but not least (paragraph 7)
               5          turn to (paragraph 7)
               6          a means of (paragraph 7)
               7          pick up (paragraph 7)
               8          take their pick from (paragraph 7)


Czech drivers increasingly saving on petrol
and switching to cheaper bio-fuels
1. Rising petrol prices in the Czech Republic have sparked a steady drop in demand, with sales dropping by a quarter in the last five years. People are driving less, planning their trips better and adapting their vehicles to run on cheaper types of fuel.
2. Despite brief fluctuations when the price of petrol temporarily dipped, the cost of fuels has steadily climbed over the past five years. Drivers filling up their tanks in the Czech Republic spend on average 500 crowns at the pumps. While five years ago this got them 21 litres of the best selling Natural 95 petrol, today it only pays for 14 litres. And some drivers now are often only filling up for 200 crowns as they take account of the costs of every trip and their straitened circumstances.
3. The higher prices have contributed to a steady drop in sales. Petrol stations sold seven percent less of the best-selling petrol last year as compared to 2012 and over the past 5 years petrol sales have slumped by a full quarter with a decrease of half a billion litres.
4. With petrol currently selling at over 36 crowns per litre, many drivers have started adapting their vehicles to run on cheaper types of fuel, a change that requires minor engine modification and can save the car owner a significant amount of money long-term. For instance driving on E85 bio-fuel can save drivers thousands of crowns a month – filling up your tank with E85 is some 500 crowns cheaper than with regular petrol. An increasing number of petrol stations now offer the E85 ethanol-based fuel alternative and its sales have doubled over the last year.
5. According to available statistics, some 6,000 car owners have had their vehicles adapted to cheaper fuels in the past five years, paying between 4,000 and 10,000 crowns for the modification. Mechanics claim that thousands of others are taking high risks by running their cars on cheaper fuels without undertaking the changes. They warn that this can seriously damage cars and the money saved long-term will not pay off.
6. The slump in petrol sales is also caused by companies looking closer at their transport costs and replacing their fleets with vehicles designed to run on cheaper fuels. For instance Czech Post is now in the process of acquiring 1,500 new vehicles that will run on CNG (compressed natural gas) in a move that is expected to halve annual fuel costs.
7. And, last but not least, higher fuel costs have increased the popularity of car sharing – a trend that was not originally hailed with great enthusiasm by auto autonomous Czechs. Today many people who need to drive to work daily have turned to car sharing as a means of keeping down their growing fuel expenses. Some pick up colleagues and share the monthly costs; others go on the internet and take their pick from the increasing number of offers available.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

China on world's 'biggest push' for wind power

Level: Upper-intermediate / B2

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China is already the world's largest producer of wind power.
Read this article about its plans to double the number of wind turbines, then answer the following questions:
1) How much energy will be produced by wind in 2020 in China?
2) Integrating this surge in wind energy has posed what three challenges?
3) What is China's biggest source of energy?
4) Which country produces the most wind energy in Europe?
5) Which potential foreign markets exist for Chines wind technology?

Answers below!



ANSWERS!

1) 200GW
2) a: the windiest regions tend to be far from cities
    b: the building of turbines has outstripped the expansion of the grid
    c: the grid has struggled to cope with the intermittent wind energy
3) Coal (75%)
4) Germany
5) Asia, Latin America and Africa


Monday, 6 January 2014

Attenborough: The forgotten story of Alfred Russel Wallace

Level: Advanced / C1

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Charles Darwin is famous, but what do you know about Alfred Wallace?
Watch this wonderful presentation narrated by David Attenborough, then answer the following questions:
1) What is the Malay Archipelago called today?
2) What did Wallace and Walter Bates collect together in Leicestershire?
3) Where did they go in 1848?
4) What was the 'premier natural history society' in Britain where Darwin and Wallace presented their papers?
5) When did Wallace die?


Answers below!


ANSWERS!
1) Indonesia
2) Beetles
3) The Amazon (Belem)
4) The Linnean Society
5) 100 years ago