Writings on Climate Change (Feedback) – For Intermediate students

January 31, 2013

If you have to write an opinion article about climate change, you should start by stating clearly your topic, and explaining it. Some tips so that people can clarify their ideas:

  • “Climate change” is not a synonym of “Global warming”. Climate change has always taken place, meaning climate changes are “natural”. The problem you wish to address in your writings is the kind of climate change that results from / resulting from HUMAN ACTION, from humans misusing and wasting the earth’s resources.
  • Climate change in this sense is an environmental issue we need to address because we can all consume in more rational ways.
  • Some Useful Vocabulary (there’s some for B2 and some for B1: pick the language you can actually learn to use, not “any word”  – I mean, to Intermedio 2 students, the points you made in your Writings are enough, just improve what you can actually improve — things at your level of English — not what is at a higher level, out of reach just now) is: The environment, environmental activists, going green (informal expression, good for headings), this environmental issue, the greenhouse effect, air pollution, [carbon dioxide produced by vehicle exhaust fumes and by burning fossil fuels from power plants/stations, factories and homes], this causes temperatures to rise, CFC emissions damage the ozone layer, household, industrial waste, landfill sites, acid rain damaging trees and plants in forests, pollution from smog causes respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, sunlight causes greenhouse gases to undergo chemical change and react with water vapor/vapor, creating acid rain, rising temperatures cause…, ice caps melt, the melting of the poles, rising sea levels, flooding, environmental degradation such as desertification, global warming can cause climate change and environmental disaster, solutions, sustainable solutions, solar power, environmentally-friends answers to (our) problems, carbon emissions, avoid wasting water, reforestation organic farming, biodegradable products, recycling (organic waste, plastic, glass, batteries, paper), consciousness-raising campaigns, to raise people’s awareness of, energy-saving measures…

Your opinion article should start with an introduction where you state clearly what you are going to write about.

Then you can do various things, but all of them should be developing the body of your writing in 2 or 3 or 4 paragraphs depending on the number of words you are asked to write.

  • One is that first you list or explain (in a paragraph) some of the consequences of the problem we have,
  • and then you write a paragraph giving advice on what people can do to solve the problem or prevent it.

Before writing, you should always read about the topic in your Writing Assignment: read texts on the same topic (i.e. climate change), to gather Useful Language and learn how ideas are often worded, and also read pieces that are the same kind of text you are asked to write (i.e. an opinion article), noticing the structure, and also any particular wording for any of the parts (e.g., I can see that articles on “addressing problems” use sequencers like “First/Firstly,” and “In conclusion”). If you find Opinion Articles on Climate change, perfect! But read a few of those, anyway. Last, doing some reading before writing will also help you gather ideas, and/or clarify your ideas.

How can you write an article if you haven’t read a bit on the same topic you need to address? (to gather often-used language chunks), and texts of the type of text you need to write (to notice textual structure). How can you word things in English if you don’t pay attention to how native speakers word things? If you don’t notice how native speakers word messages, you tend to do literal translation from your mother language! When you don’t learn from native speakers’ use of language, you keep translating and using English words to express Spanish syntax (word order) and wording is not learning English, or using English. I mean, if  you translate from Spanish, your English will show numerous transfer problems: things won’t sound like “English.” That is why I keep insisting in this: learn “grammar” by listening to speakers. When we learn to listen, we learn morphology, syntax, semantics, textual formats and textual structures, communicative strategies, we learn about culture, approaches to life, etc. LANGUAGE LEARNING IS NOT ABOUT DOING WRITTEN GRAMMAR EXERCISES. That can be good as follow-up / consolidation exercises (Language Awareness). That is very useful when you combine it with LISTENING. Because then grammar helps you double-check, or check things that don’t sound right. Don’t do it the other way round: from grammar explanations in English textbooks (and they tend to be less good than those your teachers give you, because your teachers know more about your specific problems and your frame of mind as Spanish-speakers learning English) and the Spanish you translate literally into English! That’s the hardest way to do things, and the less effective, because native speakers will need a lot of time to listen to you (you take longer when you keep translating it all) and will be often lost, because of the wording, if they don’t speak Spanish and can work out what you possibly mean.

EXAMPLES BY EOI STUDENTS: This is not an opinion article, but a very brief (basic) report, by a B2-level student who was taking a C1 course: Rocío’s report on Global Warming. Reports have a different structure or lay-out, but the underlying idea is similar to the general idea on structure: intro (presentation of topic) – body (posing the different points) – ending (conclusions, summaries or opinions). This is a 300-word article (reflective writing) on Air Pollution by Fernando. Here is an 175-word Letter to the Editor by Paloma, on the atomic crisis in Japan.

OTHER SOURCES: Global Warming for Kids (reading explanations for kids is very helpful for Intermediate students), Climate change and global warming for kids (just avoid “cool language”! 😀 )


One comment

  1. […] Change by this group have been really good! I had posted some tips for the other Intermedio 2 group here, but I think it’ll be more helpful for them to read your work! So — I’d love to […]

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