I have said before that I love these types of activities and this was one of my favorite ESL group discussion activities. The premise is simple. Someone has been banished to an island for life by their government. They can take almost anything they want except some means of getting off the island. So no boats, helicopters, or airplanes allowed.
Break students up into groups of three to four and then go over this page to make sure they understand everything before you release them to discuss it. They have to decide as a group what they will take to the island. This can usually last a full 45-50 minute class but have some related discussion questions ready just in case you have a non-talkative class.
Banished to the Island
Which articles do you take?
You have angered the leader of your country and now you have been sentenced to spend the remainder of your life on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean (you are 28 years old).
The island is 4000 miles from any land, and the chances of escaping are extremely small because of strong ocean currents. Fortunately, the island (2000 sq. mi.) has a very moderate climate; temperatures never go below 65 degrees F. in the winter or above 85 degrees F. in the summer. The rainfall on the island is moderate also, about 75 inches spread evenly throughout the year.
As a result, there is lush vegetation and diverse animal life; therefore, food is no problem. Aside from this, your government has allowed you to take 12 items to the island and has said that it will provide you with a portable solar generator if you want to take electrical devices. The only restrictions are that you may not select a person of the opposite sex to accompany you, and you may not take a means of transportation to the island (boat, airplane, etc.). You could bring something to get around the island, though.
sentenced: punished by a court remainder: rest uninhabited: Nobody else is living there
currents: fast-moving waters lush: abundant diverse: varied devices: appliances means of: way of
Something to Think About
1. Here are some possible articles to take with you:
- a compass an article of clothing* a telescope a comb/brush a frying pan soap(lifetime supply) a typewriter
- a deck of cards a hammer/nails a thermometer antiseptic (lifetime supply) a solar-powered lamp sunglasses
- scissors a gun/ ammunition a mirror an ax a tape recorder an army knife a stove a refrigerator matches (lifetime supply)
- a microscope a large cooking pot cigarettes (lifetime supply) alcoholic drinks (lifetime supply) a radio a TV a rope
- a book* a fishing pole a horse pencils (lifetime supply) paper (lifetime supply) toothbrush/toothpaste a ball candles (lifetime supply)
- a net a barometer
* Which one would you take if you could only take one?
antiseptic: something that prevents infection barometer: a device that can read air pressure
2. Remember that you might be able to make many items from the natural resources on the island. For example, you might be able to make an ax from a sharp rock and a stick. That being said, a steel ax might be better. Likewise, you can bring the tools that will allow you to make your own fishing pole or continue to make things on the island yourself.
3. Remember that you are not limited to the list.
4. At least one article you choose must not be on the list!
Decide, Discuss, and Write
Item 1: _____________________________________________________
Reason chosen: _______________________________________________
After you have made your list, be prepared along with your group to defend your choices.
And that is the lesson! After all groups have had a chance to make their selections, write the answers on the board so that they can all see each other’s choices. Then, have them question the other groups and challenge their selections. Be prepared to begin the questioning yourself as not all students and classes are equal in their ability to question each other.
Another thing I will notice is that sometimes all the groups choose an almost identical list. You can make this a little more challenging by removing items and tell them that at least 2 items should not be on the list you provided.
Hopefully, this will spur discussion and debate among the groups and each other. You can also prepare questions about what would you most miss from civilization or what book would you bring if you could only have one book to take.
As always, remember that Teaching and Learning English is Fun!