Techniques for dealing with mixed ability students: problem-solving.

Exercises like this encourage students to use their scientific, geographical and practical knowledge to practise their English. It engages students as it’s a realistic problem that needs to be solved rather than merely a language problem such as a grammar exercise.

You have been washed up alone on a desert island after your ship sank. The island is very small and has no water and only a few trees. You have seen some birds but no other animals. There is a small lifeboat containing some useful things two miles from your island. It is also sinking. You have enough time and energy left to swim to it and remove five items (only) and bring them to your island. With your partner(s) decide which five you want to take and give reasons for your choices.
  • 20 metres of rope
  • 20 litres of fresh water
  • a radio
  • 20 tins of food
  • a box of matches
  • a torch
  • a gun
  • a knife
  • a first aid kit
  • a bottle of whisky
  • signal flares
  • warm clothes
  • a mobile phone
  • a small dog
  • a book about the fish in this area
  • 6 bars of chocolate