Renewable Energy

“We know we’ll run out of dead dinosaurs to mine for fuel and have to use sustainable energy eventually, so why not go renewable now and avoid increasing risk of climate catastrophe? Betting that science is wrong and oil companies are right is the dumbest experiment in history by far.”

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla
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LESSON OVERVIEW

This free ESL lesson plan on renewable energy 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.

We have already begun to experience the effects of climate change and many scientists warn that if we do not do anything soon to curb our use of polluting fossil fuels, it may be too late for the next generation to reverse the catastrophic effects of global warming. Finding renewable sources of energy is one way humanity can make a difference. In this ESL lesson plan on renewable energy, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as the different kinds of renewable energy, the problems associated with this and how renewables can help the environment.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for Earth Day, which takes place in April, or for 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):

The Spruce | Pros and Cons of 4 Common Alternative Energy Sources

The article takes a look at four of the most common types of renewable energy: solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro. For each of these types of energy, the advantages and disadvantages are discussed. 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 said? 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 “Can 100% renewable energy power the world” by TED Ed which looks at the challenges of producing sufficient energy for the world from renewable sources.

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 the different ways of producing renewable energy, possible opposition to renewable energy and whether or not it is viable to produce 100% of our energy from renewable sources.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with renewable energy such as nimby, solar power and biofuel. 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 renewable energy. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as how the world can meet the energy needs of the ever expanding global middle class, the reliability of renewable energy and whether or not they would be prepared to pay more money for renewable energy.

HOMEWORK

After the class, students will write about their opinion of renewable energy. 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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