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Teachers' Room > Lesson Library > Browse Library

The Environment

The Great Green Wall
The Sahel area, straddling 27 countries, has now been mapped in detail showing where and how to create Africa’s Great Green Wall. Some 166 million hectares of land have been identified for restoration - nearly three times the size of Kenya or France. The Great Green Wall project was launched by the African Union to combat desertification. (Great Great Wall, Sahara, Africa, FAO, reversing desertification, sustainability.)
Advanced
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Bags to Boats
The beaches of Kenya’s idyllic Lamu island are dotted with traditional houses, mansions, the odd donkey and, increasingly, tidal lines of plastic trash. One man has decided to design traditional sailing boats from recycled plastic. (Plastic bags, Kenya, boat building, effects of plastic on environment, matching information, discussion.)
Intermediate
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Roof Farms
Farming on the rooftops of Paris has been such a success that the mayor is introducing more projects. By 2020, Paris will have more] than 100 hectares (0.39 square mile) of rooftop gardens and planted walls. (Gardens and cities, benefits of gardening, information exchange: sunflowers.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Fence Them Out
Wildlife rangers in Australia’s outback have started building a 185 km (115 miles) electrified enclosure to protect native animals from pests such as feral cats, which are threatening some species with extinction. (Conservation, pests, endangered animals.)
Intermediate
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Waste Warriors
Naz is one of five Afghan refugee women who are not only battling traditional gender roles by going out to work, but who have also become unlikely warriors in the Indian capital's fight to curb plastic waste pollution. (Refugees, small businesses, dealing with plastic waste, India.)
Advanced
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Not Enough Room For More Fish In The Sea??
Lizzie Carr is on a mission. She recently became the first woman to cross the English Channel solo on a paddle-board to draw attention to the "global plastic crisis". From fishing lines to flip flops, there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world's oceans. (Global plastic crisis, oceans, working for a cause.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Life In the Dry Zone
Myo Myint fondly remembers when his one-acre farm regularly produced 100 baskets of rice. But as rainfall became erratic, he started growing betel leaves, a less thirsty cash crop. This summer, the 50-year-old is considering leaving fallow his land in Myanmar's central "Dry Zone". (Drought, climate change, Myanmar, water conservation and irrigation sensors)
Advanced
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Canned Air
A Chinese company is selling lots of cans of fresh air. The air costs 48 yuan ($6.95). It comes from a forest in western China. The bottles will last for 2 minutes. (Business, air pollution, China.)
Elementary
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Groundhog Day
Punxsutawney Phil, a famed U.S. groundhog with an even more famous shadow, came out of his burrow on Thursday and predicted a long North American winter. (Groundhog Day, interview with a woodchuck, first conditional.)
Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 13 February 2017
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Plants At Risk
One in five types of plant worldwide is at risk of extinction from threats such as farming and logging that are wrecking many habitats, a first global overview of plant life said on Tuesday. (Plants, endangered species, conservation, describing plants, writing factual description, using such as to introduce examples.)
Intermediate
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Full Metal Spiders
Scientists knew that fish often carry mercury but they now know that spiders can transfer mercury to foods that people eat.
Elementary
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Stop Acting the Goat or You're Fired!
The city of Salem fired a herd of goats from their job in a park. The city wanted the 75 goats to eat invasive plants. (Animals, invasive plants, the environment, present perfect simple and past simple).
Elementary
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Keeping a City Flush with Water
When the going got tough due to one of the worst droughts in a century, the parched Texas city of Wichita Falls got going with its program to recycle sewage water for drinking. (Water shortages, recycling.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Bridging the Gap
Do you want a bridge? The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is selling 11 historic bridges. (Bridges, historic buildings and structures, tense revision, passive and active voices.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Giving Kids
Not long after the megastorm Sandy hit the northeast United States, Maryum Goodwin and her little girl Ryleigh, 6, saw a disturbing picture of the New Jersey shore devastation. "That's somebody's house?" Ryleigh asked. "It used to be," said Maryum. That moment got Ryleigh thinking about how she could help. (Teaching children about giving, charities, disasters, past perfect)
Intermediate
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Animal Apps
Humans aren't the only species on the planet with a penchant for electronic gadgets. Zookeepers across the United States and Canada are discovering that apes also get excited about apps. 12 zoos have been incorporating iPads into the enrichment time allotted for orangutans, the giant furry red primates native to Indonesia and Malaysia. (Orangutans, animals, using technology and apps, participles as adjectives.)
Intermediate
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Greek Mosquitos
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe. (Malaria, Greece, health system, disease and prevention control).
Advanced
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Nasty Parasites
Parasites look set to become more virulent because of climate change, according to a study showing that frogs suffer more infections from a fungus when exposed to unexpected swings in temperatures. (Parasites, climate change, frogs, reported quesitons.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Elephant Escapes
An elephant trainer has taken two elephants back to the circus after they walked along a busy Copenhagen street and an elephant escaped from New Zealand's Auckland Zoo after she dropped a log on an electrified fence and pushed through a gate. (Elephants, zoos - benefits and disadvantages, sequencing, a / an / the, writing a headline, pair crossword, present perfect.)
Elementary
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Asia's Nobel Winners
A Taiwanese vegetable seller is one of six winners of Asia's Ramon Magsaysay Award this year. Chen has been selling vegetables in Taiwan's Taitung central market since 1963. She has used the money she gets from selling vegetables to help build a library and feed and shelter children-and families displaced by disasters.
Pre-Intermediate
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Change of Energy Source?
The lakeside town of Port Hope, Ontario, encompasses both the promise and the dark side of the nuclear industry. The town is home to the world's longest running facility to process nuclear fuel, a massive white eyesore that towers over the sailboats bobbing in its tranquil harbor. (Nuclear energy, the environment, business, nuclear accidents, like and unlike.)
Advanced
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Hot bodies
Using body heat from train commuters to warm buildings. (Energy, the future, word families, discussion, mixed questions, comprehension, will used to describe facts in the future, completing a diagram.)
Pre-Intermediate
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On Your Bike
A fleet of 6,000 bicycles for hire will hit the streets of central London on Friday when the city's mayor Boris Johnson launches a scheme intended to fuel a cycling revolution in the congested capital. (Traffic problems, bicycles, London, concept of offering a service for free, definite articles.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Protecting the Animals
Efforts to save tigers and kiwi birds. This lesson looks at conservation efforts in two different places. (Environment, animals, poaching, pests, New Zealand, Sundarban Forest, Bangladesh, India, present perfect simple).
Pre-Intermediate
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Earthquakes
One of the health threats rescuers and doctors battle after an earthquake over the coming weeks and days is finding survivors trapped beneath rubble and treatment for people with major injuries. An average 10,000 deaths occur worldwide from earthquakes annually. About 18 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0 to 7.9) and one great quake (8.0 or higher) hit in a typical year. (Earthquakes, natural disasters, Haiti, prefixes and word families)
Intermediate
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Shine A Light
Vegetable seller Ramiben Waghri took out a loan to buy a solar lantern which she uses to light up her stall at night. The lantern costs between $66-$112, about a week's income for Waghri. "The vegetables look better by this light, and it's cheaper than kerosene and doesn't smell," said Waghri. "If we can use the sun to save some money, why not?" (Renewable energy sources, developing countries, solar power, micro finance.)
Advanced
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Thinking Outside The Box
A $6 cardboard box that uses solar power to cook food, sterilize water and could help 3 billion poor people cut greenhouse gases, has won a $75,000 prize for ideas to fight global warming. (Poverty, global warming, inventions and competitions, will for future events.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Dress For Success
Want that promotion? What you wear may be just as important as what, and who, you know to getting up the career ladder and serious formal business wear is the key in job interviews. (Business promotions and job interviews, business dress, case study discussion, reading memos, verb patterns, saying what you are going to do, giving instructions game.)
Intermediate
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King Bug
Animals such as lions, crocodiles or snakes thrive elsewhere on the planet, but Antarctica's most fearsome land predator is a reddish bug. The continent is best known for penguins, seals and whales, but all rely on the sea for food, unlike its Lilliputian land-based creatures and plants -- so far almost unaffected by humans. (Antarctica, ecosystems, climate change, answering true or false questions, adverbs.)
Advanced
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Alaska's Hotting Up
Welcome to Alaska, where the blow of climate change will fall harder than on any other U.S. state. Records indicate that Alaska has already experienced the largest regional warming of any U.S. state. (Global warming, droughts, forest fires, infestations of insects, True or False, understanding the main idea, scanning, finding synonyms).
Advanced
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Ice Pops for Zoo Animals
A zoo in Rome is feeding its animals a treat of frozen fruits every day because of the very hot weather. (Weather, animals and zoos, present perfect simple, talking about the weather, describing a zoo.)
Elementary
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Environmentally friendly power sources
A corn-like plant that can grow as high as an elephant's eye on some of Earth's driest farmland shows promise as a "smart" biofuel that won't cut into world food supplies and wind power has been growing steadily for the past three years. (Alternative fuel and energy sources, the environment, climate change, pair reading, completing a table of information, discussion, zero, first and second conditionals).
Intermediate
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Urban Foragers
Eating locally means different things to different people, but to urban foragers it can literally mean eating close to home. You may not realize it, but a wealth of healthy -- and free -- food may be growing just outside your front door. (Foraging in urban settings, eating locally grown food, restaurants, scanning, completing a table, comprehension, idioms using fruit and vegetables.)
Advanced
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Hungry Pandas
Giant pandas living in the wild in the misty mountains of southwest China are facing a possible food shortage as bamboo plants, their staple diet, near the end of their lifespan, state media said on Monday. (Pandas, conservation, brainstorming, listening gap fill, sequencing, conducting an interview, verbs of perception with active participles or bare infinitives).
Upper-Intermediate
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Yellow cabs to go Green
New York City's famed yellow taxi cabs will go green within five years...1,000 hybrid taxis -- powered by gasoline and electricity -- would be introduced by October 2008. (Alternative fuels, transport, the environment, hybrid vehicles, discussion, skimming, choose the best answer, reading and notetaking, first conditional, Internet research.)
Intermediate
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Real-life Avatar
A world away from Hollywood in remote eastern India the story of Avatar is being played out. Avatar tells the story of the Na'vi whose existence is threatened by a mining corporation which wants to exploit mineral deposits beneath a giant sacred tree. In India's state of Orissa, indigenous tribespeople are battling to stop Vedanta Resources from extracting bauxite from their sacred mountain. (Religion, environment, sharing information, making a diagram, timeline, discussion.)
Advanced
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Rats Rats Rats
A video shown on television showed rats scampering across a New York City restaurant floor. With nearly four million rats born every day experts have warned that the rodents could spread more disease through towns and cities in developing nations. (Rats, sanitation, restaurants and the spread of disease, pest control, vocabulary work, understanding the main idea, listening gap fill, prediction, true or false, shouting dictation game, pair crossword, although and because.)
Pre-Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 5 April 2007
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Redbacks and Snakes on the Move
Snakes are going into urban areas in Australia because they are looking for water and redback spiders were going inside. (Snakes, spiders, Australia, comprehension, prediction, reading for understanding, answering true or false questions, countable and uncountable nouns, much, many, some, any, a few, a little, few, less)
Elementary
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Water Crisis
Fleets of supertankers could one day ply the world's oceans laden not with oil but fresh water. The world's top climate scientists have issued the strongest warning yet that human activity was heating the planet. By 2100, water scarcity could impact between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people. (Water conservation, predicting from a headline, completing a table, interpreting, survey on water use, completing a poster slogan, finding grammatical errors.)
Upper-Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 9 February 2007
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Bushfires
Bushfires in Australia, science, nature, Australia, listening for understanding, reading and understanding, answering true and false questions, fire safety.)
Pre-Intermediate
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Disappearing Fish
The world's fish and seafood populations will collapse by 2048 if current trends in habitat destruction and overfishing continue, resulting in less food for humans. In Japan fish is a cherished delicacy. Two articles that look at overfishing and the popularity of fish in Japan. (Depletion of fish stocks, conservation, eating seafood, survey, scanning, true or false, prepositions, brainstorming, first conditional.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Lightning Safety
Seeking refuge in houses, schools or office buildings, unplugging computers and avoiding open fields during thunderstorms can help reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning during the summer months. Never use a mobile phone outside during a lightning strike. (Lightning, safety during thunderstorms, scanning, expressions using lightning, verb patterns.)
Upper-Intermediate  Lesson Updated: 20 October 2006
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Air Affecting Business
Andy Ridehalgh, a British expatriate who has worked as an English teacher for three years in Hong Kong, has had enough of the city's air pollution. (Air pollution, Hong Kong, the environment, first and second conditionals brainstorming, choose the best answer, matching information.)
Intermediate
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Head Room for Cyclists
Motorists give greater leeway to cyclists who do not wear safety helmets, according to a study by a academic in Britain who was hit by traffic twice as he rode his bike to carry out his research. (Bicycles, traffic safety, completing a summary, categorizing words, comprehension, articles - definite and indefinite)
Upper-Intermediate
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Gangs on the Loose
Unruly gangs are raiding the expensive homes that line the spectacular coast of South Africa's Cape Peninsula, clearing out pantries, emptying fridges and defecating on the designer furnishings. It's baboon versus human in a string of wealthy oceanfront communities 30 minutes from the trendy center of Cape Town. (Baboons, wildlife, discussion, true or false, punctuation exercise, vocabulary work.)
Advanced
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New age pigeon post
A flock of pigeons carrying mobile phone backpacks will be used to monitor air pollution, New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday. (Technology, air pollution, making predictions, word hunt, comprehension, will to express future fact.)
Pre-Intermediate
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On with biotech crops?
As the GM crops industry celebrates its 10th anniversary, the early promises of biotech crops remain largely unrealized, and many countries have banned the technology amid concerns about health and the environment. (An overview of the first decade of GM crops, business, discussion, predicting from a headline, comprehension.)
Advanced
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Bangladesh's rivers - curse and lifeline
The mighty Teesta river that has swept away farm laborer Mohammad Taheruddin's home 10 times in the past five decades is now a picture of calm. But barely two months ago the Teesta, like many other rivers in the low-lying South Asian country, was in full spate. It burst its banks, destroying flood shelters the government built five years. (Bangladesh, flooding, discussion, brainstorming, matching headlines, true or false, reading carefully, reading and notetaking, present perfect continuous.)
Advanced
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Keeping the river flowing
The Jordan River is heavily polluted with sewage and is in danger of drying up after decades of conflict and intense agricultural use, environmentalists say. (Environment, agriculture, natural resources, religions, the Middle East, rivers, answering true or false questions, comprehension, cloze reading, reported speech, direct speech, team quiz.)
Upper-Intermediate
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Hiss!
The world's longest snake - perhaps. Also, snake pits in Canada! (Snakes, nature, Canada, tourism, punctuation, 'used to / be used to' and gerunds.)
Upper-Intermediate
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