English Conversation – The Environment
This is the preparation material for an English conversation lesson about the environment and nature. It deals with issues such as global warming, climate change and deforestation. It contains a list of advanced English vocabulary relating to the environment, common idioms and expressions we might use when discussing this subject and a list of conversation questions relating to nature and the environment.
Vocabulary related to the environment
- Atmosphere – the mixture of gases that surround the Earth
- Biodegradable – materials and chemicals that are biodegradable are changed naturally by bacteria into substances that do not harm the environment
- Catastrophe – a terrible event in which there is a lot of destruction, suffering or death
- Contaminate – to make a place or substance dirty or harmful by putting something such as chemicals or poison in it.
- Conservation – the protection of natural things such as animals, plants, forests etc. to prevent them being spoiled or destroyed.
- Sustainable – able to continue without causing damage to the environment
- Deforestation – the cutting or burning down of all the trees in an area.
Idioms we might use when discussing the environment
- A recipe for disaster – If you refer to a plan or an idea as a recipe for disaster, you think it is likely to produce bad results.
- No quick fix – To say that there is no quick fix to a problem means that there is no simple solution.
- A race against time – If someone is in a race against time, they have to work very quickly in order to do or finish something before a certain time.
- Ripple effect – When an action has an effect on something, which in turn affects something else, it is said to have a ripple effect.
- To sweep something under the carpet – To ignore or hide something because it is too difficult or embarrassing to deal with.
Conversation questions about the environment
- What do you think are the biggest problems facing the environment?
- Do you think that global warming is caused by humans or part of the natural cycle of the earth?
- What are some of the factors that have contributed to global warming?
- Do you think that recent natural disasters are the result of human influence on the environment?
- Have you seen any changes in the weather or climate in your country? If so, what are they?
- Has the Government in your country implemented any initiatives or policies to protect the environment, such as recycling, litter laws etc.?
- Do you think leaders around the world have done enough to address the environmental problems?
- Have you done anything to help the environment?
- Have there been any natural disasters in your country?
- What things do you think can be done to protect the environment?
- Do you think the planet has been permanently damaged?
- What stories have you read or heard recently about the environment?
- What do you think of environmental groups like Greenpeace?
- Is the environment in a good state in your country?
- Do you think cars should be banned from city centres?
- How has the world changed since you were a child? (technology, values, environment, health)
- What are some things that your community is doing to help the environment?
- Who do you think is more responsible for pollution, individual people or the government?
- What do you think about the potential of alternative energy sources / renewable energy such as solar power, wind power and wave power?
- What types of energy are popular in your native country?
- What is the main problem with renewable energy sources?
- What do you think governments can do to improve the air quality for their country?
- How can we protect the environment and at the same time improve people’s standard of living?
- Do you think overpopulation is an important environmental issue?
- What do you think about the use of pesticides, which increase productivity of crops but can harm the environment?
- What problems are being caused by the destruction of rainforests?
- What has been the impact of environmental changes on animal species?
- How can deforestation be reduced when many communities rely on this industry for their livelihood?