The UK is blessed with ‘weather’ rather than ‘climate’ – i.e., like Forrest Gump’s famous Box of Chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get! Countries that have climates mostly know what the day’s weather is going to become like: it’s summer – it’ll be hot and dry, and it’ll probably rain at four within the afternoon; it’s winter – it’ll snow for three and a 50 % months. Granted the climate is changing around the world as you read this, but you understand the principle? From the UK we can have four seasons in an afternoon! Our winters vary, our summers vary even extra.
One day we can have a number of degrees of frost, and also the next, the wind changes as well as the sun shines and warms our world up by fifteen degrees. This is fun – yes, really. Dwelling on a large island around the eastern edge of a large ocean brings unpredictability to the sky that we Brits love. What to wear? How to second guess the forecaster? Will it rain these days? Should I wear sun-screen?! I admit we Brits are obsessed with the weather, and therein lies a great teaching tool for my students of English as a Foreign (EFL) or second (ESL) language. I start each and every day with a comparative weather forecast. The student’s home town forecast goes to the board, as does our local one. Think from the words we can learn together, not only weather words (which are different every single day!), but comparatives by the bucketful (warmer, colder, wetter) and lots of strange English expressions – ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, to give you one example.
Our forecast also allows the student to talk about home, and I have found the forecast has kicked off some superb conversations. It becomes a daily ice-breaker, adding construction to our session through the start. Additional advanced lessons could involve looking at different forecasting methods and analysing them: listening to the radio, reading the paper, watching the television, considering folklore regarding the weather. The four key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking can all be exercised by the weather: how about getting a small group to prepare a TV weather forecast sketch for you? What’s the weather like where you are?
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