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Date: Aug 24, 2005

Level: Easier (Try the harder lesson.)

Downloads: Word Doc | PDF Doc | Listening

Audio: (2:02 - 238.8 KB - 16kbps)
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THE ARTICLE

Special firefighting airplanes from across Europe have arrived in Portugal to help fight more than twenty out-of-control wildfires. The fires are the worst to hit the region in more than 60 years. They are racing through woodland, which is very dry. Strong winds are fanning the flames and increasing the risks to firefighters. Nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling to contain the fires and prevent them from destroying property and homes. They are being stretched to their limits and need urgent help.

Coimbra, the nation’s third largest city, narrowly escaped the fires on Tuesday. Flames reached the edge of the city and the population of 100,000 prepared to evacuate. The wind suddenly changed direction and officials said there was now no chance the fires would return. However, with temperatures set to rise to 36 degrees Celsius, much of the country is still on a high state of alert. Conditions are made worse by Portugal’s worst drought since 1945, which has dried up many reservoirs.

WARM-UPS

1. FIRE: Imagine wildfires are all around your town. You can see the flames in the distance. What will you do? Will you gather together your possessions and leave? Will you help fight the flames? Walk around the class and talk to other students about the fires and what you have been doing.

2. RESCUE: Rank the following in order of which you would save first if you had to evacuate your house because of a wildfire. Talk about your order with your partner(s).

____ Passport / documents

____ Money

____ Pet

____ Computer

____ Grandmother

____ Photo albums

____ Clothes

____ Other

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

Wildfires / Portugal / woodland / strong winds / firefighters / being stretched to your limits / narrow escapes / flames / high temperatures / droughts / reservoirs

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

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

5. STRETCHED TO YOUR LIMITS: In pairs / groups, talk about times when you have been stretched to your limits. Use these topics:

  1. Homework
  2. Struggling with money
  3. Exercise
  4. Stressful situations
  5. Relationships
  6. Neighbors
  7. Examinations
  8. Other

 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

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

a.

Portugal is waiting for special firefighting planes to arrive.

T / F

b.

Portugal’s wildfires are its worst in 60 years.

T / F

c.

Firefighters are fanning the flames.

T / F

d.

Firefighters are being stretched to their limits and need help.

T / F

e.

Portugal’s third largest city is very narrow.

T / F

f.

100,000 people in the city of Coimbra evacuated their homes.

T / F

g.

Weather forecasters said the weather would become cooler.

T / F

h.

Portugal is experiencing its worst drought since 1945.

T / F

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

a.

across

dangers

b.

region

circumstances

c.

racing

just

d.

risks

abandon

e.

prevent

area

f.

narrowly

stop

g.

edge

increase

h.

evacuate

all over

i.

rise

border

j.

conditions

speeding

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

a.

Special firefighting

fanning the flames

b.

help fight more than twenty

changed direction

c.

the worst to hit the region

to 36 degrees Celsius

d.

Strong winds are

in more than 60 years

e.

They are being stretched

the edge of the city

f.

narrowly escaped

airplanes

g.

Flames reached

a high state of alert

h.

The wind suddenly

out-of-control wildfires

i.

temperatures set to rise

the fires

j.

the country is still on

to their limits

WHILE READING / LISTENING

WHICH WORD? Strike through the incorrect word in each pair in italics.

Portugal wildfires out of control

Special firefighting airplanes / submarines from across Europe have arrived in Portugal to help fight more than twenty out-of-order / out-of-control wildfires. The fires are the worst to hit the region in more than 60 years. They are racing / pacing through woodland, which is very dry. Strong winds are banning / fanning the flames and increasing the risks to firefighters. Nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling to contain / maintain the fires and prevent them from destroying property and homes. They are being stretched to their limits / summits and need urgent help.

Coimbra, the nation’s third largest city, widely / narrowly escaped the fires on Tuesday. Flames reached the edge / wedge of the city and the population of 100,000 prepared to evacuate / elevate. The wind suddenly changed direction and officials said there was now no chance the fires would return / downturn. However, with temperatures set to rise to 36 degrees Celsius, much of the country is still on a high / tall state of alert. Conditions are made worse by Portugal’s worst drought since 1945, which has dried up many reservoirs / baths.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

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

  • 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. WHICH WORD? 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…?

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

5. STUDENT “WILDFIRES” SURVEY: In pairs / groups, write down questions about wildfires and crazy weather.

  • 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:

  • airplanes
  • hit
  • racing
  • fanning
  • battling
  • stretched
  • narrowly
  • edge
  • direction
  • temperatures
  • alert
  • drought

DISCUSSION

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

  1. What did you think when you first read this headline?
  2. Did the headline make you want to read the article?
  3. What do you think about when you see TV pictures of homes burning?
  4. Have you ever seen a house on fire?
  5. Does your country suffer from wildfires?
  6. What do you think it’s like to be a firefighter?
  7. What’s the greatest threat you have ever faced?
  8. What’s the greatest disaster to hit your town?
  9. If you had to evacuate your home, what three things would you take?
  10. When was the last time you were stretched to your limits?

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. Why do you think there are so many wildfires in Portugal?
  4. Have you ever had any bad experiences with fire?
  5. What do you think of the fact that Portugal has no firefighting aircraft, even though it has had wildfires for four years?
  6. Reservoirs in Portugal are dry but gold courses are green. Should Portugal’s government have a more sensible water policy?
  7. Has the weather changed in your part of the world over the past ten years?
  8. What do you think of people who set fires in forests?
  9. What kind of prison sentence would you give them?
  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?

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

Portugal wildfires out of control

Special firefighting airplanes _____ ______ Europe have arrived in Portugal to help fight more than twenty out-of-control ________. The fires are the worst to hit the ________ in more than 60 years. They are racing through woodland, which is very dry. Strong winds are ________ the flames and increasing the risks to firefighters. Nearly 3,000 firefighters are ________ to contain the fires and prevent them from ________ property and homes. They are being stretched to their ________ and need urgent help.

Coimbra, the nation’s third largest city, narrowly ________ the fires on Tuesday. Flames reached the ________ of the city and the population of 100,000 prepared to ________. The wind suddenly changed direction and officials said there was now no chance the fires would ________. However, with temperatures set to rise to 36 degrees Celsius, much of the country is still on a high state of ________. Conditions are made worse by Portugal’s worst drought since 1945, which has ________ ___ many reservoirs.

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 wildfires in Portugal. Share your findings with your class in the next lesson.

3. LETTER: Write a letter to your government. Explain how angry you are that your government cannot protect your country from wildfires. Tell the government what it should do from now. Read your letters to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all write about similar things?

4. DIARY / JOURNAL: Wildfires have been around your home for three days. You have been helping firefighters to keep back the flames. Write your diary / journal entry for a day you spent fighting the fire. Read your entries to your classmates in your next lesson. Did you all write about similar things?

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. F

b. T

c. F

d. T

e. F

f. F

g. F

h. T

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

across

all over

b.

region

area

c.

racing

speeding

d.

risks

dangers

e.

prevent

stop

f.

narrowly

just

g.

edge

border

h.

evacuate

abandon

i.

rise

increase

j.

conditions circumstances

PHRASE MATCH:

a.

Special firefighting

airplanes

b.

help fight more than twenty

out-of-control wildfires

c.

the worst to hit the region

in more than 60 years

d.

Strong winds are

fanning the flames

e.

They are being stretched

to their limits

f.

narrowly escaped

the fires

g.

Flames reached

the edge of the city

h.

The wind suddenly

changed direction

i.

temperatures set to rise

to 36 degrees Celsius

j.

the country is still on

a high state of alert

WHICH WORD?

Portugal wildfires out of control

Special firefighting airplanes / submarines from across Europe have arrived in Portugal to help fight more than twenty out-of-order / out-of-control wildfires. The fires are the worst to hit the region in more than 60 years. They are racing / pacing through woodland, which is very dry. Strong winds are banning / fanning the flames and increasing the risks to firefighters. Nearly 3,000 firefighters are battling to contain / maintain the fires and prevent them from destroying property and homes. They are being stretched to their limits / summits and need urgent help.

Coimbra, the nation’s third largest city, widely / narrowly escaped the fires on Tuesday. Flames reached the edge / wedge of the city and the population of 100,000 prepared to evacuate / elevate. The wind suddenly changed direction and officials said there was now no chance the fires would return / downturn. However, with temperatures set to rise to 36 degrees Celsius, much of the country is still on a high / tall state of alert. Conditions are made worse by Portugal’s worst drought since 1945, which has dried up many reservoirs / baths.

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