Radiation Woes Continue for Post-Tsunami Japan (Advanced News Lesson)

With Answers! | Download Free Japan Radiation News Lesson plan here: Radiation-Water-Woes-Japan-Advanced-06042011.doc

News Lesson Plan: Warm-up

1)    Are the rivers and beach areas in your city or town polluted? Would you swim there?
2)    Do you worry about the safety of the food you eat? What won't you buy?
3)    Have there been any fundraisers for Japan in your city or town?

Radiation Woes Continue for Post-Tsunami Japan (April 6th, 2011)

Radiation-related problems continue to plague Japan. Still reeling from a major earthquake and tsunami, the nation is now struggling to cope with the abundance of radioactive water in its nuclear facilities.
Large amounts of water are needed to stop Japan's nuclear reactors from overheating. In nuclear reactors 5 and 6, however, the growing levels of wastewater pose a threat to the system's power supply. Japanese officials have therefore decided to dump 11,500 tonnes of the water into the sea. A spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Hideohiko Nishiyama, commented, “I am not able to say for certain whether or not this will be the last discharge, but we certainly would like to avoid releasing any such water into the sea as much as possible.”
Radiation levels in seawater have also increased because of a leak that experts believe is coming from a 20cm crack in nuclear reactor 2. Efforts by workers to fill the crack on Sunday were of no avail. Japan plans to try other methods to stop the leak. In the meantime, a special fence will be erected around the leak to stop the spread of radioactive particles.
Japanese farmers have appealed to the government to lower radiation-level standards for food, which they believe are too stringent. The government, however, has refused to change the safety limits.
The death toll since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11th is now 12,157. The whereabouts of an additional 15,500 people are still unknown. [246 words]
[Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12954664 & http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/04/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html]

News Lesson Plan: Comprehension Questions

  1. How has radioactive water reached the ocean?
  2. What is water used for in the reactors?
  3. True or False: Hideohiko Nishiyama has promised this will be the last time the water is released into the sea.
  4. What will Japan do to stop wastewater from leaking into the sea?
  5. True or False: The Japanese government has refused to lower safety standards for food.
  6. True or False: Radiation from the reactors has killed many people.
1 - Water has been dumped into the sea by the government. It has also leaked into the ocean from a crack that experts believe is in reactor number two.
2 - It's used to stop the nuclear reactors from becoming too hot.
3 - False. He only hopes it is the last time.
4 - Japan will put up a special fence.
5 - True.
6 - False. There is no mention of any deaths in the article.

News Lesson Plan: Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
woe (noun)
plague (verb)
reel (verb)
avail (noun)
  • woe - trouble (noun)
  • plague - trouble (verb)
  • reel - shake, stagger
  • cope - deal with
  • abundance - plenty, loads
  • discharge - leakage, emission, release
  • avail - use, advantage
  • in the meantime - meanwhile
  • erect - put up, install
  • stringent - strict
  • whereabouts - location

News Lesson Plan: Master the Language

Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.
discharge          chemical
athlete             plague             injuries
real          aftershock
cope    financial woes
abundance      natural resources
erect      church
stringent          policy
bomb      whereabouts
Possible answers


  • The athlete's career was plagued by one injury after another.
  • People in the city were still reeling from the aftershock of the earthquake.
  • Unable to cope with his financial woes, the company president decided to flee the country.
  • Canada and Australia have an abundance of natural resources.
  • The famous church was erected in 1375.
  • My company has a stringent policy regarding absences.
  • Police have no information on the whereabouts of the bomb.

News Lesson Plan: Idiom Focus

Term #1:  in the meantime (synonym: in the meanwhile, meanwhile)

Definition: while something else is happening or until something else happens

Example:  “Japan plans to try other methods to stop the leak. In the meantime, a special fence will be put up…”

Read and complete the below sentences where necessary.
  • I'll start washing the dishes. In the meantime, please take out the vegetables and cut them.
  • Phillip will see his doctor again in a week. In the meantime, his doctor told him to .
  • . I have started studying Spanish in the meantime.
  • . In the meantime, .
Possible answers
  • Phillip will see his doctor again in a week. In the meantime, his doctor told him to take his medicine and rest.
  • I will move to Barcelona next summer. I have started studying Spanish in the meantime.
  • Class doesn't start for another ten minutes. In the meantime, let's review our notes.

Term #2of/to (little/no) avail

Definition: of no use, producing no benefit. (*usually used in the negative)

Example: "Efforts by workers to fill the crack were of no avail. / They worked to no avail.”


Read and complete the below sentences where necessary.
  • Peter's charisma was of no avail because he wasn't given a chance to speak.
  • The doctor tried to  , but his efforts were of no avail.
  • I argued to no avail. My wife .
  • , but to no avail.
Possible answer
  • The doctor tried to save the patient, but his efforts were of no avail.
  • I argued to no avail. My wife refused to listen to me.
  • I tried to quit smoking last month, but to no avail.

News Lesson Plan: Discussion Questions

(Write your answers in the Comments section below if you wish).

  1. What is your opinion of nuclear energy? What type of energy do you support?
  2. Concerning the production of energy, which is the most important consideration: human value or environmental risk?
  3. What effects could the problems in Japan have on you, if any?
  4. Where do you draw the line between worrying about safety and living your life?
  5. How do you think your country would handle such a disaster?
  6. Could you live in an area that could have a natural disaster at any moment?
  7. Would you consider donating money to help the Japanese?

News lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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