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Date: Oct 15, 2007
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Audio: 1:55 - 451.4KB - 32kbps
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THE ARTICLE

China dam forces millions to move

China’s highly controversial Three Gorges dam project has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons again. Chinese state media announced four million more people have to move from their homes near the dam area. This latest setback comes hot on the heels of a warning a few weeks ago that: "If no preventive measures are taken, the project could lead to catastrophe". The new dam evacuees will join the 1.4 million who have already been forced to exit their homes, villages and livelihoods. This now means the nearby city of Chongqing will see its population increase by in excess of five million people over the coming years. The city’s deputy mayor Yu Yuanmu stated the relocations were necessary to "protect the ecology of the reservoir area, [which] has a vulnerable environment."

The dam is part of the world’s largest hydro-electric power project. It cost a whopping 22 billion dollars to build. The reservoir stretches over 600 kilometres behind the dam itself. It is the safety of the residents in this huge area that the Chinese government is anxious about. The head of construction for the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, warned: "We cannot let our guard down with the ecological and environmental security problems the Three Gorges project has created." The dam still has the potential for enormous environmental damage. In many places, the banks of the mighty Yangtze River are eroding, triggering dangerous landslides. There is also now the huge social cost of a small, already over-populated city like Chongqing having to cope with such huge numbers of new and very poor arrivals.

WARM-UPS

1. MOVING: Walk around the class and talk to other students about moving. Change partners often. After you finish, sit with your original partner(s) and share what you found out.

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

controversy / hitting the headlines / dams / catastrophe / livelihoods / ecology / hydro-electricity / reservoirs / environmental damage / landslides / coping

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. COSTS/BENEFITS: Do the benefits of building the Three Gorges dam outweigh the costs? Discuss this with your partner(s). Use the points below:

  • China gets cheap, green and clean electricity
  • Millions of people get new lives by moving from the countryside into the city
  • Whole ecosystems are destroyed, being submerged by the reservoir
  • Tens of thousands of jobs are created
  • Engineers learn a great deal about hydro-electricity and dam construction
  • A huge environmental catastrophe is waiting to happen

4. THOSE INVOLVED: Is everyone happy with the dam? What are the thoughts of those involved / affected? Discuss with your partner(s).

  • China’s president
  • a peasant relocated to the city
  • a farmer whose land was flooded
  • a fish with a bigger place to swim
  • a local environmentalist
  • the construction company boss
  • a city resident
  • the average Chinese person

5. CATASTROPHE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘catastrophe’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.

6. QUICK DEBATE: Students A think the Three Gorges dam project should be reversed and nature returned as it was. Students B believe after spending $22 billion, the project should continue. Debate this with your partners. 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 Chinese dam has received negative headlines for the first time.

T / F

b.

Four million people have to move from the countryside to the city.

T / F

c.

Four million people have already lost their land and livelihoods.

T / F

d.

An official said the relocations will help protect the environment.

T / F

e.

The dam project cost nearly 2.2 billion dollars to build.

T / F

f.

The area flooded to make the dam extends for more than 600km.

T / F

g.

The dam is threatening the safety of China’s Yangtze River.

T / F

h.

The city taking in the evacuees has the infrastructure to cope.

T / F

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

1.

highly

a.

extends

2

setback

b.

disaster

3.

hot on the heels of

c.

setting off

4.

catastrophe

d.

huge

5.

vulnerable

e.

hitch

6.

whopping

f.

eating away at

7.

stretches

g.

susceptible

8.

eroding

h.

exceedingly

9.

triggering

i.

manage

10.

cope

j.

very soon after

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

1.

hit the

a.

on the heels of a warning

2

This latest setback comes hot

b.

behind the dam itself

3.

If no preventive

c.

to catastrophe

4.

the project could lead

d.

are eroding

5.

increase by in

e.

with such huge numbers

6.

…stretches over 600 kilometres

f.

measures are taken

7.

We cannot let our guard

g.

excess of five million

8.

the banks of the mighty Yangtze River

h.

dangerous landslides

9.

triggering

i.

headlines

10.

having to cope

j.

down

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

China dam forces millions to move
 

China’s __________ controversial Three Gorges dam project has hit the headlines for the wrong __________ again. Chinese state media announced four million more people have to move from their homes near the dam area. This latest __________ comes hot on the heels of a warning a few weeks ago that: "If no preventive __________ are taken, the project could lead to catastrophe". The new dam evacuees will join the 1.4 million who have already been forced to exit their homes, villages and __________. This now means the nearby city of Chongqing will see its population increase by in __________ of five million people over the coming years. The city’s deputy mayor Yu Yuanmu stated the __________ were necessary to "protect the ecology of the reservoir area, [which] has a __________ environment."

 

 

 

relocations
setback
livelihoods
reasons
vulnerable
highly
excess
measures

The dam is part of the world’s largest __________ -electric power project. It cost a whopping 22 billion dollars to build. The __________ stretches over 600 kilometres behind the dam itself. It is the safety of the __________ in this huge area that the Chinese government is anxious about. The head of construction for the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, warned: "We cannot let our __________ down with the ecological and environmental security problems the Three Gorges project has created." The dam still has the __________ for enormous environmental damage. In many places, the banks of the __________ Yangtze River are eroding, triggering dangerous __________. There is also now the huge social cost of a small, already over-populated city like Chongqing having to __________ with such huge numbers of new and very poor arrivals.

 

 

mighty reservoir
cope
potential
hydro
residents
landslides
guard

LISTENING

Listen and fill in the spaces.

China dam forces millions to move

China’s highly controversial Three Gorges dam project ________________ for the wrong reasons again. Chinese ________________ announced four million more people have to move from their homes near the dam area. This latest setback comes ________________ of a warning a few weeks ago that: "If no preventive measures are taken, the project could ________________". The new dam evacuees will join the 1.4 million who have already been forced to exit their homes, ________________. This now means the nearby city of Chongqing will see its population ________________ five million people over the coming years. The city’s deputy mayor Yu Yuanmu stated the relocations were necessary to "protect the ecology of the reservoir area, [which] ________________ environment."

The dam ____________________ largest hydro-electric power project. It cost a whopping 22 billion dollars to build. The reservoir stretches over 600 kilometres ____________________. It is the safety of the residents in this huge area that the Chinese government ________________. The head of construction for the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, warned: "We cannot ________________ with the ecological and environmental security problems the Three Gorges project has created." The dam still ________________ enormous environmental damage. In many places, the banks of the mighty Yangtze River _____________________ dangerous landslides. There is also now the huge social cost of a small, already over-populated city like Chongqing ____________________ such huge numbers of new and very poor arrivals.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

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

wrong

reason

 

 

 

 

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

  • hit
  • hot
  • lead to
  • exit
  • excess
  • ecology
  • part
  • itself
  • anxious
  • guard
  • mighty
  • cope

STUDENT MOVING SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about moving house / city in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

DISCUSSION

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

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

Are you surprised at the numbers of people who have to move?

c)

What do you know about the Three Gorges dam?

d)

How would you feel if your government moved you to a new city?

e)

What kind of catastrophe might the dam cause?

f)

Do you think the people who lost their livelihoods received compensation from the Chinese government?

g)

How do you think a medium-sized city can cope with the arrival of five million new residents?

h)

Do you think people living alongside the reservoir would damage the ecology of the area, as the deputy mayor claimed?

i)

Do you think the benefits of building this dam outweigh the costs?

-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

Which is more important, the creation of clean and green power or the livelihoods of five million people?

c)

Do you think politicians have the right to flood a huge area of land and forever change its landscape and ecosystems?

d)

Why do politicians care more about projects than people?

e)

Do you think the Chinese government is really anxious about the safety of the people it is relocating?

f)

Is the Chinese government acting responsibly by building projects that reduce carbon emissions?

g)

What will happen to the five million who move to Chongqing?

h)

What questions would you like to ask those who planned and approved the Three Gorges dam project?

i)

Did you like this discussion?

LANGUAGE

CORRECT WORD: Put the correct words from a–d below in the article.

China dam forces millions to move

China’s (1) ____ controversial Three Gorges dam project has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons again. Chinese state media announced four million (2) ____  people have to move from their homes near the dam area. This latest setback comes (3) ____ on the heels of a warning a few weeks ago that: "If no preventive measures are taken, the project could lead to catastrophe". The new dam (4) ____ will join the 1.4 million who have already been forced to exit their homes, villages and livelihoods. This now means the nearby city of Chongqing will see its population increase by in excess (5) ____ five million people over the (6) ____ years. The city’s deputy mayor Yu Yuanmu stated the relocations were necessary to "protect the ecology of the reservoir area, [which] has a vulnerable environment."

The dam is part of the world’s largest (7) ____ -electric power project. It cost a whopping 22 billion dollars to build. The reservoir stretches over 600 kilometres behind the dam itself. It is the safety of the residents in this huge area that the Chinese government (8) ____ anxious about. The head of construction for the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, warned: "We cannot let our guard (9) ____ with the ecological and environmental security problems the Three Gorges project has created." The dam still has the potential (10) ____ enormous environmental damage. In many places, the (11) ____ of the mighty Yangtze River are eroding, triggering dangerous landslides. There is also now the huge social cost of a small, already over-populated city like Chongqing (12) ____ to cope with such huge numbers of new and very poor arrivals.

1.

(a)

high

(b)

heightened

(c)

heights

(d)

highly

2.

(a)

more

(b)

farther

(c)

again

(d)

mostly

3.

(a)

tepid

(b)

boiling

(c)

hot

(d)

warm

4.

(a)

evacuates

(b)

evacuees

(c)

evacuate

(d)

evacuation

5.

(a)

in

(b)

of

(c)

out

(d)

down

6.

(a)

arriving

(b)

going

(c)

coming

(d)

reaching

7.

(a)

hydrogen

(b)

hydraulic

(c)

hydrant

(d)

hydro

8.

(a)

is

(b)

being

(c)

are

(d)

very

9.

(a)

down

(b)

up

(c)

security

(d)

man

10.

(a)

to

(b)

by

(c)

for

(d)

with

11.

(a)

bonkers

(b)

bankers

(c)

bunkers

(d)

banks

12.

(a)

have

(b)

having

(c)

has

(d)

had

WRITING: 

Write about dams for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

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 about the Three Gorges dam. Talk about what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. POWER: Make a poster about different power projects taking place around the world. What are their costs and benefits? Show your poster to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all include similar things?

4. MAGAZINE ARTICLE: Write a magazine article about whether projects or people are more important. Include imaginary interviews with an environmentalist and a construction boss.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down new words and expressions.

5. LETTER: Write a letter to the Chinese leaders. Ask them three questions about the safety of the dam and its negative impact on the environment. Give them three pieces of advice on how to improve the situation. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a. F

b. T

c. F

d. T

e. F

f. T

g. T

h. F

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

highly

a.

exceedingly

2

setback

b.

hitch

3.

hot on the heels of

c.

very soon after

4.

catastrophe

d.

disaster

5.

vulnerable

e.

susceptible

6.

whopping

f.

huge

7.

stretches

g.

extends

8.

eroding

h.

eating away at

9.

triggering

i.

setting off

10.

cope

j.

manage

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

hit the

a.

headlines

2

This latest setback comes hot

b.

on the heels of a warning

3.

If no preventive

c.

measures are taken

4.

the project could lead

d.

to catastrophe

5.

increase by in

e.

excess of five million

6.

…stretches over 600 kilometres

f.

behind the dam itself

7.

We cannot let our guard

g.

down

8.

the banks of the mighty Yangtze River

h.

are eroding

9.

triggering

i.

dangerous landslides

10.

having to cope

j.

with such huge numbers

GAP FILL:

China dam forces millions to move

China’s highly controversial Three Gorges dam project has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons again. Chinese state media announced four million more people have to move from their homes near the dam area. This latest setback comes hot on the heels of a warning a few weeks ago that: "If no preventive measures are taken, the project could lead to catastrophe". The new dam evacuees will join the 1.4 million who have already been forced to exit their homes, villages and livelihoods. This now means the nearby city of Chongqing will see its population increase by in excess of five million people over the coming years. The city’s deputy mayor Yu Yuanmu stated the relocations were necessary to "protect the ecology of the reservoir area, [which] has a vulnerable environment."

The dam is part of the world’s largest hydro-electric power project. It cost a whopping 22 billion dollars to build. The reservoir stretches over 600 kilometres behind the dam itself. It is the safety of the residents in this huge area that the Chinese government is anxious about. The head of construction for the dam, Wang Xiaofeng, warned: "We cannot let our guard down with the ecological and environmental security problems the Three Gorges project has created." The dam still has the potential for enormous environmental damage. In many places, the banks of the mighty Yangtze River are eroding, triggering dangerous landslides. There is also now the huge social cost of a small, already over-populated city like Chongqing having to cope with such huge numbers of new and very poor arrivals.

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 -a

3 - c

4 - b

5 - b

6 - c

7 -d

8 - a

9 -a

10 - c

11 - d

12 - b

 

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