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, 17 October 2015

You Tube science channels

Level: Intermediate B1 and above

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


You Tube is a great for practising your English


Here are examples of good science channels on You Tube. They all contain short vides with subtitles - perfect for English practice!


Vsauce has videos about various scientific and philosophical subjects, as well as technology, culture and other subjects. It is very popular - some of its videos have millions of views and it has won awards. The videos vary in length, usually 3-15 minutes, although some are much longer.

Another popular sites is Veristasium, which has science and engineering videos with experiments, expert interviews, demonstrations and discussions with the general public. The videos are between 2 and 12 minutes long.

Smarter Every Day features experiments and demonstrations about science.


Unlike the previous three American channels, In a Nutshell - kurzgesagt is in British English. It has a new animation every month. ''We are a team of designers, journalists and musicians who want to make science look beautiful. Because it is beautiful.''

Periodic tables calls itself ''the ultimate channel for all things chemistry''. It features a video about each chemical element as well as ''other stuff from the world of chemistry''.

Minute physics uses time-lapse videos to try to explain physics-related subjects in a short time.

Scishow discusses science news, history and concepts.

Crash course teaches many subjects, including biology, ecology,and chemistry, as well as history, literature, politics, etc.

The Khan Academy offers many subjects and aims to provide ''a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere''.

If you know of any more, please let us know!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Say 'no' to plastic bags

Level: CAE / Upper-intermediate B2

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

Here is a CAE multiple-choice cloze practice exercise.



Say ‘no’ to plastic bags


Read the text below and decide which answer (A, B C or D) best fits each gap. There is an example at the beginning (0):

Did you know that on (0)      A      we take home 150 plastic bags annually? In (1)            words, that means a global figure of one million plastic bags taken home every minute. We are sure you will all agree this is a truly shocking statistic.
Plastic bags cannot be simply (2)           of along with your domestic rubbish – they can blow off landfill sites and become highly (3)           litter which can remain in the environment for a number of years. They are not only an eyesore but they are a (4)           to the environment. For example, plastic bags almost dammed the Buriganga river in Bangladesh, and they are widely (5)           responsible for causing devastation floods there on two separate (6)            .
They also (7)           a particular threat to wildlife. More and more (8)           dead turtles and whales are discovered washed up on beaches, killed by swallowing plastic bags. To marine life, a plastic bag closely (9)           a jellyfish.
These are the (10)           why you should reuse plastic bags you already have or take a small rucksack on trips to the supermarket. Why not take (11)           and show how much you care about the environment by (12)           this small step!


0          A  average                B   normal            C   example            D   ratio
1          A   fewer                     B   some               C   those                 D   other
2          A   disposed                B   thrown            C   finished             D   used
3          A   evident                  B   observable      C   visible                D   marked
4          A   risk                        B   danger            C   difficulty           D   problem
5          A   shown                   B   taken               C   made                D   held
6          A   occasions              B   activities          C   incidents           D   episodes
7          A   model                    B   set                    C   pose                  D   generate
8          A   repeatedly             B   frequently        C   usually             D   generally
9          A   resembles              B   reminds           C   equates            D   appears
10        A   motives                 B   reasons             C   sources             D   causes
11        A   against                   B   advantage        C   action              D   account
12        A   helping                  B   doing                C   following         D   taking

Adapted from CAE Result, OUP





Answers below!





ANSWERS!

Did you know that on (0)      A      we take home 150 plastic bags annually? In (1)    D      words, that means a global figure of one million plastic bags taken home every minute. We are sure you will all agree this is a truly shocking statistic.
Plastic bags cannot be simply (2)    A     of along with your domestic rubbish – they can blow off landfill sites and become highly (3)    C     litter which can remain in the environment for a number of years. They are not only an eyesore but they are a (4)     B    to the environment. For example, plastic bags almost dammed the Buriganga river in Bangladesh, and they are widely (5)    D    responsible for causing devastation floods there on two separate (6)     A     .
They also (7)    C    a particular threat to wildlife. More and more (8)    B    dead turtles and whales are discovered washed up on beaches, killed by swallowing plastic bags. To marine life, a plastic bag closely (9)    A    a jellyfish.
These are the (10)    B     why you should reuse plastic bags you already have or take a small rucksack on trips to the supermarket. Why not take (11)    C     and show how much you care about the environment by (12)   D     this small step!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Earth 'entering new extinction phase'

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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

There have been a number of reports recently about extinction of species and a new phase of extinction.

Here is an article about a recent study on the BBC Science & Environment webpage.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) How many mass extinction events have there been so far?
2) When was the last one?
3) True or false: since 1900, more than 40 vertebrate species have disappeared.
4) How many amphibian species are threatened with extinction?
5) How many lemur species are critically endangered?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!
1) Five (we are entering the sixth)
2) 65 million years ago
3) True
4) 41%
5) 94%

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Intensive English homestay courses

Looking for an intensive English course this summer?

I can recommend English Steps:

  • Live with a qualified English teacher and other adult students. in an English-speaking house.
  • 17.5 hours of intensive English lessons per week - maximum class size of 4.
  • Work for charities, NGOs and other organisations in the afternoons with native English speakers.
  • Go on trips, activities and extra courses with native English speakers in the afternoons and evenings.
  • Free accommodation in your own room in Leeds, UK.
  • Minimum stay 1 week. There is no maximum stay.
For more information, go to the English Steps website or their Facebook page.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The truth about magpies

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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

Magpies have a bad reputation for stealing and killing other birds. But is it true?

Here is an interesting article about magpies from the BBC Earth webpage.
Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) What is Pica pica?
2) Where does the magpies reputation of stealing come from?
3) True or false: magpies eat eggs and small birds.
4) What happened to the magpie population in Britain between 1966 and 1986?
5) According to the article, are magpies thieves?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) Eurasian magpie
2) A French play (and then an Italian opera)
3) True
4) It increased steadily by about 5% per year
5) No

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

California drought: Will the Golden State turn brown?

Level: Upper-intermediate B2

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

California has introduced water restrictions, but will they work?

Here is an article about the drought. There are two short videos in the article. Watch the SECOND VIDEO (near the and of the article) and then answer the following questions:

Video 2 - Numbers:
1) Lake McClure is how much lower than its historical average?
2) How much of the world's almonds come from California?
3) How much of America's fruit, nuts and vegetables come from California?
4) According to Dave Phippen, by how much has California's population grown recently?
5) How much water has been lost in the last year?


Answers below!






ANSWERS!

1) A third
2) Around 80%
3) Half
4) Doubled in thirty years
5) 63 trillion gallons (63,000,000,000,000 gallons)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Solar power 'could become world's biggest source of electricity'

Level: Intermediate B1

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

The Sun could become our biggest source of energy by 2050.


Here is an short video (two and a half minutes) looking at the benefits of solar energy for the poor in Africa.

Watch the video and then answer the following questions:

1) How far are the Lodio family from mains electricity?
2) Complete this piece of text with the adjectives used by the reporter (from 00:57 seconds into the report):
''... a solar revolution. Standing here that looks like a                 ambition. But this                 continent has a            advantage when you consider the potential of one of its                 resources.''
3) How many people are without electricity in sub-Saharan Africa?
4) What does Joseph Lopeta's village now have thanks to solar power?
5) Which country is the reporter in?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) 200 km
2) ''... a solar revolution. Standing here that looks like a  distant  ambition. But this  vast  continent has a  big  advantage when you consider the potential of one of its  greatest  resources.''
3) Half a billion
4) Clean fresh water
5) Kenya



Sunday, 25 January 2015

The 25 biggest turning points in Earth's history

Level: Intermediate B1

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

How much do you know about the history of the Earth?

Here is an excellent article from BBC Earth looking the 25 most important events in our planet's history.

Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1) How old is planet Earth?
2) True or false: we know exactly when the first organisms appeared.
3) When are plate tectonics thought to have begun?
4) What are the two great evolutionary growth spurts?
5) When was the first mass extinction?
6) What was the name of the supercontinent 300 million years ago?
7) When did the first apes appear?


Answers below!





ANSWERS!

1) 4.5 billion years
2) False - nobody knows!
3) 3 billion years ago
4) The Cambrian Explosion and the Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event.
5) The Ordovician-Silurian

6) Pangaea
7) 25 million years ago

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Time expressions - grammar lesson 16

Level: Intermediate B1

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

Time for another grammar lesson! This one looks at what expressions we use to talk about the future.


Time expressions - future

A. Complete the sentences with one of these words:
by                    during              for                    from now                     time                 until

  1. The new national park will be designated      by        the end of the year.
  2. Hopefully a few years                          we will see electric cars on the roads.
  3. We have been trying to save the white rhino                           years.
  4. Experts predict that we have only got                         2050 before oil runs out.
  5. We will see rising sea levels                             the next decade
  6. The agreement comes into force in five weeks’                       .


B. Now complete the rules for during, until, by and for:
§                                        is used to talk about a period of time.
§                                        is used to say how long something will take.
§                                        is used to talk about a future deadline; an action that will be completed before (or at) a specific time..

§                                        is used to talk about a deadline: the emphasis is on a continuous situation that will stop at a specific time.



Answers below!



ANSWERS!


A. Complete the sentences with one of these words:
by                    during              for                    from now                     time                 until

  1. The new national park will be designated      by        the end of the year.
  2. Hopefully a few years             time     we will see electric cars on the roads.
  3. We have been trying to save the white rhino              for        years.
  4. Experts predict that we have only got            until     2050 before oil runs out.
  5. We will see rising sea levels    during  the next decade
  6. The agreement comes into force in five weeks’          from now        .


B. Now complete the rules for during, until, by and for:
§                          during    is used to talk about a period of time.
§                          for         is used to say how long something will take.
§                          by          is used to talk about a future deadline; an action that will be completed before (or at) a specific time..

§                          until       is used to talk about a deadline: the emphasis is on a continuous situation that will stop at a specific time.

Monday, 12 January 2015

New species of marine reptile identified from Skye fossils

Level: Intermediate B1

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

A new species of marine reptile has been identified from fossils that are 170 million years old.

Read this article about it and then answer the following questions:

1) How long is the animal?
2) What did it feed on?
3) What are these aquatic mammals known as?
4) Which geological time period are the fossils from?
5) True or false: these fossils are very common.


Answers below!




ANSWERS!


1) 4.2 metres
2) Fish and other reptiles
3) Ichthyosaurs
4) Early to middle Jurassic
5) False (they are very rare)



Eucalyptus study could be key to koala survival

Level: Intermediate B1

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

Koala numbers are dropping. Studying eucalyptus leaves could help understand why.
Watch this short video (2.5 minutes) too find out more.


When you have watched the video, answer the following questions:

1) How many koalas are there in the wild?
2) What are the possible reasons for their decline?
3) What is Elisabeth Neilson studying?
4) What technique is she using for this?
5) True or false: the koala is Australia's largest ground mammal?


Answers below!




ANSWERS!

1) Less than 40,000
2) Increase in droughts and fires in their habitat.
3) How koalas digest eucalyptus
4) Genome analysis
5) False (it is the largest tree-dwelling mammal)