ESL Materials to Discuss Global Warming
Downloads of teaching materials
You will find the downloads of teaching materials that can be used to deal with this topic below or on our page ESL Lesson Plan: LC, Pair Work & Assignment for "The Iceberg Project” LC & (Oral/Written) Worksheets.
Below I speak of the excellent documentary "Ice and Sky" by the director of The March of the Penguins. It was released recently and there is a wonderful educational website Ice and Sky for your students that I talk about at the end of this article.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11, will be held in Paris in December 2015. The goal is to find a way to limit the rise in the Earth’s temperature to under 2°C in the coming years. Over 90% of all climate scientists believe that humans are causing this greenhouse gas phenomenon that is heating up our planet and will be detrimental to our environment and consequently to different populations around the world. Nonetheless, there is a controversy in many countries over the validity of this theory often due to a significant quantity of misinformation that is being spread by the media and certain climate skeptical or optimistic movements.
What is often ignored is the way scientists have come to these conclusions after more than half a century of intensive research. Climate skeptics seem to believe that this theory is only based on temperature readings of the last century when in fact glaciologists have studied the atmosphere going back more than 800,000 years. Students will certainly be interested in knowing about the innovative engineering techniques that were used in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world to determine that global warming is, in fact, a reality.
Using this topic with your students
If English teachers wish to use this issue in their classes, they can have a look at some of the materials I have provided. There is an introductory listening comprehension exercise called “The Iceberg Project” (with a listen and repeat part) dealing with the fact that the ice on the Antarctic continent was formed from precipitation. Consequently, when it melts, it becomes freshwater, i.e. water we can drink.
There is a worksheet with a cloze exercise plus questions the students can answer as homework and then discuss in pairs. They can even rotate and talk about these questions with different classmates at intervals. The listening comprehension is intended to have the students practice some essential vocabulary and structures such as the verb “to have to”. This listening comprehension can be used with students of all levels. I have had bilingual students who found this very interesting and had much to say in our discussions.
Worksheet with fIll ins, vocabulary and questions and the key:
There are also oral worksheets and instructions as to their use. Go to the Lesson Plan for "The Iceberg Project".
A written cloze exercise
A second worksheet provides a written homework assignment called “Will Deserts Drink Icebergs?” It will help students acquire what we call semi-scientific vocabulary. This vocabulary is useful not only for those learners who are studying the sciences but also for other students. It is a “written” cloze exercise.
A PowerPoint presentation on glaciology
I have also made a PowerPoint presentation that demonstrates the drilling techniques and the analysis methods developed by scientists. Teachers can show this PowerPoint in class. I have written a text giving some general information, which my colleagues and I would convey to our students.
The idea is to explain how scientists drill through the Antarctic ice cap to obtain sample cores from a shaft descending to depth of 5 km or more from the surface to the bedrock. In these ice cores, the ancient atmosphere has been entrapped. Scientists extract this air, which can be up to 800,000 years old, date it by means of carbon 14 measurements, and then analyze it. They can thus determine the temperature that prevailed at the time the air was imprisoned in the ice as well as the various components of the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly its CO2 and deuterium concentrations. Hopefully, students will understand the relevance of these studies and the urgent need for change to protect our environment.
An additional use for this PowerPoint on research in glaciology
The purpose of this PowerPoint has always been to present an ongoing project and then give as an assignment the task of finding online an interesting project that is currently being carried out. The students’ presentations are limited to four slides. In the book QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book (available as a download), I have included numerous PowerPoint presentations made by students that will inspire others to do even better.
The excellent documentary “Ice and Sky”
Returning to the subject of global warming, a French film director has made a most instructive and beautiful documentary called "Ice and Sky". Luc Jacquet, who won an Academy Award for "The March of the Penguins", has traced the life of Claude Lorius, one of the very first glaciologists and climate specialists. He popularized the term “The Anthropocene” or "The Age of Man” . Luc Jacquet tells the story of this scientist’s life and the work he accomplished that has led to a better understanding of man’s influence on the environment. There is a remarkable website called Ice and Sky where there are many educational videos that will teach students more about this crucial topic and make them aware of the importance of taking a stand and making changes in our way of life.
Teachers can also access all the teaching documents I have provided in PDF on the page ESL Lesson Plan. Customizable versions of these files in DOC are available together with more than 1,000 other files in QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book sold as a download or a DVD.