This is a speaking activity based on the theme of being stranded on a desert island. It is suitable for pre-intermediate students upwards.

Jo Adkin and Jeff Fowler

Students design an island, create rules for it and decide who gets to live on it by way of interview.


You will need some A3 paper and felt-tip pens.


  • Ask students if they know of any TV programmes, films or books set on desert islands, e.g. The Beach, Castaway, Robinson Crusoe, Survivor. In groups of three, get students to explain the programme, film or book to each other.
  • Try to get some feedback on the dangers and difficulties the main character face living on these islands.
  • Tell the students that they are going to design an island. Students work in threes. Two students draw an island together on the same A3 piece of paper following instructions from the third student (e.g. Draw sharks in the sea). Change roles every few minutes. Allow ten minutes overall.
  • Tell them they have to decide on rules for living on their island (e.g. You must build a fire at 6 o'clock in the evening). Students write five rules. Elicit rules they have for living in their homes.
  • Ask the students to give a presentation to the whole class describing the island and explaining the rules for living on it.
  • Explain that someone will arrive at their island and they must decide if they want to allow the person onto the island. They must make a questionnaire to ask the new arrivals. Elicit some good questions, e.g. How do you make a fire? How do you defend yourself against a shark? Students write six to eight questions in their groups.
  • Choose one person from each group and tell them that their boat has sunk and they are swimming around looking desperately for an island. Tell students to go to an island where they will be interviewed.
  • The students 'swim' to the other islands and are interviewed at each one.
  • The group of students for each island decides which person they have chosen to live on their island and why. Together the swimmers decide which island they want to live on and why.
  • Finish with some feedback on how well they did the tasks and how difficult it was.
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