Climate refugees

Lesson plan overview

This upper-intermediate and advanced ESL lesson explores the topic of climate refugees and the links between climate change and migration. Students will learn and practise relevant vocabulary to talk about migration, refugees, and measures to address climate-induced displacement, will watch a video about the nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati, which are already being affected by rising sea levels, and will discuss the topic from various perspectives. You can combine this with the lesson “Tackling rising sea levels” , “Heatwaves”, as well as the worksheets “Idioms: moving abroad” and  “Phrasal verbs: natural disasters”.
Speaking: The lesson starts with a general discussion about climate refugees. Students talk about their understanding of the term, and the relationship between climate change and migration.
Vocabulary: Students complete 2 vocabulary activities. First, they look at 4 sentences and match the highlighted words (flee, uninhabitable, displacement, exacerbate) to their definitions. Then, they complete 12 statements with the words given in order to create common collocations in the context of climate change and migration (adaptation strategy, temporary shelter, migratory patterns, international aid, extreme weather events, etc.). After they’ve completed the sentences, they discuss them in pairs or small groups.
Listening: Students watch a video “Which countries already have climate change refugees?”. First, they look at the first half of the video and complete the gaps with the words they hear. Then they answer 3 questions about the second half of the video.
Vocabulary review: In order to review the target vocabulary, students are tasked with a word formation activity. They complete 4 opinions about climate refugees with the correct form of the words. Then they discuss the opinion and say which opinion is the closest to their personal opinion.
Grammar: Students look at the passive voice taught in the context of climate change. After a short explanation, students change 3 sentences from active to passive voice and then complete 6 sentences with their own ideas.
Lastly, students are given 2 essay prompts to choose from and complete as homework.
You can use the conversation cards for more speaking practice on this topic.

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Teacher’s lesson plan

Student’s worksheet

Student’s interactive PDF

Conversation cards PDF

Pre-class activities

To send the pre-class activities to your students, copy the link below.

Vocabulary matching


The first time you watch the video, pay special attention to the correct pronunciation of the following words:

The science is clear.
And these are the countries which are likely to be most impacted by the adverse impacts of climate change.
If we know the impact of climate change is real, and if we know that there’s going to be tens of millions of people made more vulnerable, then we need to be stepping up our game.

Comprehension questions

In-class activities

Teacher’s lesson plan
Student’s worksheet

Conversation cards PDF

Student’s interactive PDF

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