Climate Change & Global Warming

“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”

Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on climate change and global warming has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues in the world right now. International organisations, national governments and individuals are all taking part in this global debate to find a solution to this environmental problem. In this ESL lesson plan on climate change and global warming, students will have the opportunity to express their opinions on this subject and discuss issues such as the causes of climate change, the possible consequences if the Earth’s temperature keeps rising and what potential solutions to this problem they can think of.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Earth Day, which takes place in April, or World Environment Day, which takes place in June. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the calendar of world days to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and other lesson plans on this site, see the guide for ESL teachers.

PRE-CLASS ACTIVITIES

Reading activity
Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

BBC | “Global warming driving California wildfire trends – study”

The article talks about how scientists have discovered that climate change has contributed to the scale and impact of wildfires that have occurred in California. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. What do they think about the issues raised in the article? Do they agree with what was written? Can they think of any ways they might disagree with the content of the article?

Video activity
To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “Climate Change 101” by Bill Nye and explains the science behind global warming, the causes of climate change and the possible consequences that could happen in the future if no action is taken today to solve this environmental problem.

IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES

The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including what environmental problems the world is facing and what the students already know about climate change.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with climate change and global warming such as the greenhouse effect, fossil fuels and carbon footprint. This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words.

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about climate change. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as what governments should do to tackle this problem, why some people might deny that human activity is responsible for global warming and how our lives might change in the future if nothing is done to combat climate change.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of climate change and global warming. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.

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