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

Monday, 29 September 2014

Don't buy wild-caught salmon

Level: Advanced C1

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon at the bottom of the page if you want to print this exercise.

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!


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

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon at the bottom of the page if you want to print this exercise.

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!

And if you want to know more about container gardening, please have a look at this Comprehensive Guide to Container Gardening from Consumers Base.


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

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon at the bottom of the page if you want to print this exercise.

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!


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

Please click the 'Print Friendly' icon at the bottom of the page if you want to print this exercise.

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!


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.