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My 1,000
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Date: Aug 12, 2005

Level: Harder (Try the easier lesson.)

Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening

Audio: (2:06 - 248 KB - 16kbps)

1,000 IDEAS FOR ESL CLASSES: Breaking News English.com's e-Book

THE ARTICLE

Malaysia declared a state of emergency on August 11 as the air pollution index rocketed to extremely hazardous levels on its west coast. Smoke from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, has shrouded much of the country in a thick smog, a dangerous concoction of ash, dust, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The acrid haze has obscured from view the tops of buildings in Kuala Lumpur, where a government official said: “We are now in a state of emergency”. Authorities have closed schools and advised people to stay indoors to minimize contact with the noxious and choking fumes. It is Malaysia’s worst environmental crisis since 1997 and already there are few signs of it abating.

The Malaysian government is acting quickly to curb the spread of the smog. It has already begun seeding clouds in an attempt to induce rain to wash the pollutants away. It has also offered to send firefighters to Indonesia to help extinguish the out-of-control fires. Officials from both countries are holding crisis talks in the Sumatran city of Medan to find solutions to contain the rampaging blazes. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said: “We need a wetter climate for us to put into effect conducive efforts to put out the fires”. However, a meteorology department spokesperson said no respite was expected until October.

WARM-UPS

1. POLLUTION: In pairs / groups, talk about the following types of pollution. Which ones do you think are worst? Air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, acid rain, hazardous waste, nuclear waste. Which of these affect you now? Which will you worry about in the future?

2. STATES OF EMERGENCY: Have you ever experienced a government state of emergency? In pairs / groups, tell each other of your experiences of any of the following. If you have been state-of-emergency free, talk about what you would do if you experienced one.

  • Smog
  • Forest / Bush fires
  • Hurricanes / Typhoons
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Civil unrest / War
  • Heat waves
  • Other

3. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words are most interesting and which are most boring.

Malaysia / state of emergency / air pollution / smoke / carbon dioxide / Kuala Lumpur / fumes / environmental crisis / firefighters / wetter climate / October

Have a chat about the topics you liked. For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

4. SMOKE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word “smoke”. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

5. SMOG PROBLEMS: In pairs / groups, talk about which of the following smog problems would bother you most:

  1. Polluted air
  2. Poor visibility in the streets
  3. Not being able to see the sun
  4. Having to wear a facemask outdoors
  5. Being told by your government to stay indoors
  6. The thought that illegal loggers make big profits and cause smog problems
  7. The sudden closure of schools, hospitals and other services
  8. The terrible smell
  9. The potential for incurring health problems

6. QUICK DEBATE: Students A think air quality will be better in 50 years’ time. Students B think air quality will be worse in 50 years’ time. Change partners often.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true (T) or false (F):

a.

A spark from a firework has created major forest fires in Malaysia.

T / F

b.

Malaysia has declared a state of emergency.

T / F

c.

Smog is a dangerous concoction of ash, dust and various gases.

T / F

d.

The smog produces noxious and choking fumes.

T / F

e.

Malaysia has been slow to act to curb the spread of the smog.

T / F

f.

Malaysia is sowing seeds to grow more trees.

T / F

g.

Malaysian and Indonesian firefighters are holding crisis talks.

T / F

h.

There will be no let up in the dry conditions until October.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

shrouded

restrain

b.

concoction

douse

c.

acrid

poisonous

d.

noxious

mixture

e.

abating

let-up

f.

curb

pungent

g.

induce

diminishing

h.

extinguish

helpful

i.

conducive

enveloped

j.

respite

activate

3. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

Malaysia declared

view the tops of buildings

b.

the air pollution index rocketed

concoction

c.

a dangerous

the out-of-control fires

d.

The acrid haze has obscured from

until October

e.

there are few signs

out the fires

f.

acting quickly to curb

a state of emergency

g.

help extinguish

of it abating

h.

contain the rampaging

the spread of the smog

i.

conducive efforts to put

to extremely hazardous levels

j.

no respite was expected

blazes

WHILE READING / LISTENING

ODD WORD OUT: Strike through the word in each group of three in italics that does not fit.

Smog sparks emergency in Malaysia

Malaysia declared / issued / decried a state of emergency on August 11 as the air pollution index rocketed to extremely hazardous levels on its west coast. Smoke from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, has shrouded / blanketed / bedded much of the country in a thick smog, a dangerous cocktail / contraption / concoction of ash, dust, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The acrid / pungent / aphid haze has obscured from view the tops of buildings in Kuala Lumpur, where a government official said: “We are now in a state of emergency”. Authorities have closed schools and advised people to stay indoors to minimize contact with the noxious / poisonous / notorious and choking fumes. It is Malaysia’s worst environmental crisis since 1997 and already there are few signs of it letting up / abating / letting in.

The Malaysian government is acting quickly to curb / check / blurb the spread of the smog. It has already begun seeding clouds in an attempt to induce / reduce / encourage rain to wash the pollutants away. It has also offered to send firefighters to Indonesia to help douse / extinguish / distinguish the out-of-control fires. Officials from both countries are holding crisis talks in the Sumatran city of Medan to find solutions to contain the rampaging mazes / blazes / fires. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said: “We need a wetter climate for us to put into effect conducive / helpful / helpless efforts to put out the fires”. However, a meteorology department spokesperson said no let down / let-up / respite was expected until October.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionaries / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘state’ and ‘emergency’.

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. ODD WORD OUT: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…? Did you find any relationship between the correct and incorrect words?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. STUDENT “AIR POLLUTION” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about air pollution.

  • Ask other classmates your questions and note down their answers.
  • Go back to your original partner / group and compare your findings.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

6. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall exactly how these were used in the text:

  • declared
  • shrouded
  • concoction
  • acrid
  • minimize
  • abating
  • curb
  • induce
  • extinguish
  • holding
  • rampaging
  • respite

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

  1. What were your initial thoughts on this headline?
  2. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  3. What are your thoughts on the smog?
  4. Have you ever experienced a state of emergency?
  5. Who do you think is to blame for the smog?
  6. What would you if such a poisonous smog descended on your town?
  7. Are you worried about air pollution?
  8. Do you think Malaysia is entitled to sue the Indonesian government?
  9. How is the air quality of the town in which you live?
  10. What is your country’s worst ever environmental crisis?

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. What do you think about what you read?
  3. Have you ever witnessed a major blaze?
  4. What do you think are the causes of the fires?
  5. Do you think global warming is contributing to an increase in the number of forest fires around the world?
  6. What natural disasters do you have to worry about in your country?
  7. Do you think air quality will get better or worse over the next 50 years?
  8. What should be done to improve air quality?
  9. Do you think there will be oxygen bars in the future in your town, where we can buy and breathe pure air?
  10. Did you like this discussion?

AFTER DISCUSSION: Join another partner / group and tell them what you talked about.

  1. What question would you like to ask about this topic?
  2. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
  3. Was there a question you didn’t like?
  4. Was there something you totally disagreed with?
  5. What did you like talking about?
  6. Do you want to know how anyone else answered the questions?
  7. Which was the most difficult question?

SPEAKING

RATING: Decide which of the people or organizations in the column on the left are to blame for illegal logging and forest fires in Indonesia. Write a value from 1 (zero responsibility) to 10 (extremely blameworthy). Discuss with your partner(s) what actions each of the people / organizations on the list should do to reduce the effects of logging, and so reduce the chances of forest fires and smog.

 

PEOPLE / ORGANIZATIONS

 

VALUE

 

ACTIONS TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE
 

 Indonesian government
 

 

 

 Logging companies
 

 

 

 Worldwide paper
 companies
 

 

 

 United Nations
 

 

 

 Local people in the
 Indonesian forests
 

 

 

 You and I
 

 

 

Change partners and compare what your previous partners said. Who do you think has the best ideas?

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Smog sparks emergency in Malaysia

Malaysia ________ a state of emergency on August 11 as the air pollution index rocketed to extremely ________ levels on its west coast. Smoke from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, has shrouded much of the country in a thick smog, a dangerous ________ of ash, dust, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The acrid haze has ________ from view the tops of buildings in Kuala Lumpur, where a government official said: “We are now in a state of emergency”. Authorities have closed schools and advised people to stay indoors to minimize contact with the ________ and choking fumes. It is Malaysia’s worst environmental crisis since 1997 and already there are few signs of it ________.

The Malaysian government is acting quickly to ________ the spread of the smog. It has already begun seeding clouds in an attempt to ________ rain to wash the pollutants away. It has also offered to send firefighters to Indonesia to help ________ the out-of-control fires. Officials from both countries are holding crisis talks in the Sumatran city of Medan to find solutions to contain the ___________ blazes. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said: “We need a wetter climate for us to put into effect ________ efforts to put out the fires”. However, a meteorology department spokesperson said no ________ was expected until October.

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on the forest fires in Indonesia and the smog in Indonesia. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson.

3. LETTER: Write a letter to the Indonesian government about the forest fires on Sumatra. Explain what you think of the fires. Explain also what you think the government should do to stop the fires, prevent further blazes and compensate Malaysia. Read your letters to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all have similar ideas?

4. DIARY / JOURNAL: Imagine your country has declared a state of emergency. Write your diary / journal entry for one day during the emergency. Read your entry to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all write about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. F

b. T

c. T

d. T

e. F

f. F

g. F

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

shrouded

enveloped

b.

concoction

mixture

c.

acrid

pungent

d.

noxious

poisonous

e.

abating

diminishing

f.

curb

restrain

g.

induce

activate

h.

extinguish

douse

i.

conducive

helpful

j.

respite let-up

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

Malaysia declared

a state of emergency

b.

the air pollution index rocketed

to extremely hazardous levels

c.

a dangerous

concoction

d.

The acrid haze has obscured from

view the tops of buildings

e.

there are few signs

of it abating

f.

acting quickly to curb the

spread of the smog

g.

help extinguish

the out-of-control fires

h.

contain the rampaging

blazes

i.

conducive efforts to put

out the fires

j.

no respite was expected

until October

ODD WORD OUT:

Smog sparks emergency in Malaysia

Malaysia declared / issued / decried a state of emergency on August 11 as the air pollution index rocketed to extremely hazardous levels on its west coast. Smoke from forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia, has shrouded / blanketed / bedded much of the country in a thick smog, a dangerous cocktail / contraption / concoction of ash, dust, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The acrid / pungent / aphid haze has obscured from view the tops of buildings in Kuala Lumpur, where a government official said: “We are now in a state of emergency”. Authorities have closed schools and advised people to stay indoors to minimize contact with the noxious / poisonous / notorious and choking fumes. It is Malaysia’s worst environmental crisis since 1997 and already there are few signs of it letting up / abating / letting in.

The Malaysian government is acting quickly to curb / check / blurb the spread of the smog. It has already begun seeding clouds in an attempt to induce / reduce / encourage rain to wash the pollutants away. It has also offered to send firefighters to Indonesia to help douse / extinguish / distinguish the out-of-control fires. Officials from both countries are holding crisis talks in the Sumatran city of Medan to find solutions to contain the rampaging mazes / blazes / fires. Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said: “We need a wetter climate for us to put into effect conducive / helpful / helpless / efforts to put out the fires”. However, a meteorology department spokesperson said no let down / let-up / respite was expected until October.

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