Class Discussion: La Palma Volcanic Eruption

By now I´m sure you´ve heard about the tragic volcanic eruption in La Isla Bonita, more commonly known as La Palma, one of the stunning islands in the Canary Island archipelago.

Here in the Canaries, we´ve been inundated with the tragic news from our neighbouring island. Observing my students live, albeit indirectly, through this historic event, I put together a few speaking activities to help them sort through some of their thoughts during this unordinairy time.

Whether you are living in the Canaries, Spain, or anywhere else in our global community, I believe that these activities could hold value for all students in terms of global community, natural disasters, outreach for those in need and self reflection.

Although you´ll find that this presentation is specifically created for students living within the archipelago and far less guided than many of the other activities I post, I hope for it to be a jumping off point for anyone who wishes to discuss this topic with their students.

Recommended age: 14 years and older
Recommended English Level: Intermediate B1 and higher


I start each class by assessing prior knowledge, in this case vocabulary related to natural disasters, volcanoes, and previous eruptions in the Canary Islands.

Question 1: The last eruption was in El Hierro in 2011. It was vastly different because the eruption took place in the sea off the coast of El Hierro and no homes or lives were at risk.

Question 2: The last dangerous eruption was in La Palma in 1971.

Question 3: Answers will change daily. At this time, more than 7,000 people have been evacuated and more than 500 homes and building have been destroyed.

Discussion & Debate: Think, Pair Share

The next 6 slides invite students to reflect on given discussion topics. I present each topic to the whole class to check for understanding, allow about 5 minutes for the students to discuss in pairs or small groups, and then invite students to share their throughts together as a class. This typically takes a whole class period.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If your students are further away and less knowledgable about the current situation, the image activity on slide 8 may be an ideal way to introduce them to the topic and activate vocabulary. If your students do not have access to devices to search for their own images, the teacher may search images beforehand and project them to be discussed in pairs.

Investigative Journalist

As a follow up to the image activity, students can be asked to take on the role of a journalist, brainstorming questions and searching for facts online in pairs or small groups.

In Solidarity

While I realize this post is quite rushed compared to my usualy content, I wanted to share the ideas while still relevant. Feedback and suggestions are, as always appreciated.

Love and light,



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