In the Earth 2-0 ESL activity, a disaster is about to destroy life as we know it, and students have to decide who to save.
Divide the class into small groups of two, three or four students.
You will need a shortlist of people for the students to choose from, along with some information about each person. Typical information includes their name, gender, age, job, special skills, health and personality. The information you provide will depend on the level of your students and your target language.
At the start of the activity, you will need to describe a situation in which almost everyone on Earth will die, and only a few can be saved. These people will have to survive and restart the human population somewhere new. Two possibilities are (note that the scenario will affect student choices):
a) A contagious disease/zombie apocalypse is spreading across the world. There is only one tiny island that is both isolated enough and infection-free, and it will only support a few people.
b) A meteorite/nuclear disaster has hit the Earth. A planet has been found that will support life, but there is only one small rocket left to take people there.
- Set the scene using one of the scenarios described above. If possible, use images to illustrate your description.
- In their groups, students choose six people from the list to save. They should discuss their reasoning and prepare explanations for their choices.
- The groups take turns to present their choices and justify their decisions, using the target language. Allow other groups to ask questions and challenge points they don’t agree with. You might want to keep a tally of the people the students choose and announce the final results at the end.
You can use the Earth 2.0 ESL activity in a number of different ways. One option for intermediate classes is to focus on the second conditional in their reasoning. In this case the students should form sentences about imagined situations on the island/planet, e.g. If someone were injured, the doctor would help them.
You could also use it with lower level students to practise vocabulary for jobs or describing people. Students would be required to understand this vocabulary from the list, and explain why these characteristics are advantages or disadvantages in this situation.
More suited to advanced students would be an open conversation activity, possibly around the topic of disasters or survival. Here the focus would be on a lively debate, with students weighing up up multiple factors, discussing ethics and challenging each other’s reasoning.
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