Discussion & Negotiation: Lost in the Desert

Notes for Teachers

This task is a small-group discussion task which will enable your learners to practise their discussion and negotiation skills in an informal context. The task is adapted from similar activities which are often used in assessment centres when companies are recruiting new employees. Depending on the situation and what language and/or skills you want to focus on, you can either use the task to evaluate their negotiation skills (as is done in the assessment centres), or their use of suitable language for discussions. You may wish to first teach them a few polite discussion / negotiation phrases, both formal and informal, so that they can practice them in this task.

The follow-up discussion questions can be omitted, depending on your focus, but function well as a plenary to the task. Again, the obvious langauge focus would be polite discussion phrases, but you can pre-teach and/or practise other language points as relevant to your course.

Set up the situation for your students: It is lunchtime and you are driving across the desert with friends. You are lost. Suddenly, your truck breaks down and you are stranded. In your group, you must discuss and agree on which items you are going to take from the truck – but you can only take five, because it is too hot to carry any more. Which five things from the list below would you take with you from the truck, and why? How can you use them?

NOTE: each item in the list counts as one item, i.e. “2 bottles of water” = one item to carry.

Remind the students: Although they are worried about being lost, and are very hot because of the desert climate, they are still friends and need to discuss and negotiate politely!

Wilderness - Gwadar
Wilderness – Gwadar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information for Students

Items in the truck:

25 Euros

2 bottles of water

2 bars of chocolate

a loaded gun

an iPod

2 blankets

3 cans of cola

a hand-held mirror

a kitchen knife

a picnic basket containing bread, cheese & apples

a battery-powered torch & batteries

a map

a box of matches

a can of petrol

a pack of cigarettes

a small first aid kit

… and any parts of the truck you think are useful.

Follow-Up Discussion Questions

What’s the worse environment to be lost in? Why?

 What physiological or psychological problems might you encounter when lost in an extreme environment? How would you handle them?

English: Snow blanketing Snake Valley and Whee...
English: Snow blanketing Snake Valley and Wheeler Peak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 thoughts on “Discussion & Negotiation: Lost in the Desert

  1. Yes, thesicilianjob, one of the golden oldies among the ice-breakers! 🙂 But still, I thought I’d post it as a “print and go” resource for teachers who’ve heard of it but don’t have time to make up their own list / instructions / discussion questions!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s