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 be like: it’s summer – it’ll be hot and dry, and it’ll probably rain at four in the afternoon; it’s winter – it’ll snow for three and a half months. Granted the climate is changing around the world as you read this, but do you understand the principle? In the UK we can have four seasons in the afternoon! Our winters vary, and our summers vary even more.

One day we can have several degrees of frost, and the next, the wind changes and the sun shines and warms our world up by fifteen degrees. This is fun – yes, really. Living on a large island on 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 today? Should I wear sunscreen?! 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 every day with a comparative weather forecast. The student’s hometown forecast goes on the board, as does our local one. Think of the words we can learn together, not only weather words (which are different every 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 excellent conversations. It becomes a daily ice-breaker, adding structure to our session from the start. More advanced lessons could involve looking at different forecasting methods and analyzing them: listening to the radio, reading the paper, watching the television, and 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? For more click here…

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