Desert Island Discs

Yesterday was my third-to-last English club, and it was one of those meetings that made me realize how much I’ll miss my English clubbers when I leave. Recently I’ve combined my older pupils — 10th and 11th formers — with my adults, and yesterday we had a pretty balanced group: five adults and seven pupils. I wanted to make them somehow work together, so I devised two activities that I thought would be fun for everyone; I think it went quite well.

First up: “Desert Island Discs.” I got this idea from a BBC radio show/podcast of the same name. The premise is that you are being sent to a desert island and you are allowed to take seven songs/albums (I lowered it to five for English club) with you. You can also choose one book to take. You don’t know how long you might be on the desert island, so it’s worth it to take some time to come up with a good list of music and reasons why you chose these particular selections. Here’s what each person chose to take to their desert island:

  • TanyaОкеан Елзи (Ukrainian rock group), С.К.А.Й. (Ukrainian rock group), a Sting album, a Yann Tiersen album (he wrote the soundtrack to the film Amelie), and an album by another Ukrainian singer whose name I didn’t recognize. Tanya decided to take a book about “how to survive on a desert island” (smart choice!).
  • Mykhailo: Океан Елзи, The Beatles, Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata, a Scorpion album, The Eagles. His book? A Ukrainian-English dictionary!
  • Oleh S.: Heart’s Happiness, Florence and the Machine, an album of greatest club music hits, an album of Ukrainian and Polish folk songs, and all of Bach’s works (how he’ll get that onto one album, I wonder…). Oleh would take The Bible to his desert island.
  • Serhiy: music of Vysotskiy (a Russian singer), an album of a Ukrainian rap singer whose name I didn’t catch, and a few other Ukrainian/Russian singers. Serhiy’s book: Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island.
  • Yulia: the new Three Days Grace album, KORN, Slipknot, Papa Roach, and 30 Seconds to Mars. She’d take Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
  • Vlad: three Nickelback albums, Flo Rida, Pink Funhouse. Vlad would take a Russian trilogy called Absolute Warrior.
  • Iryna: jazz for a light mood, Bach’s organ music (for a sad mood), Mozart symphonies, Romantic piano music, and an album of Impressionist music from composers such as Debussy and Ravel. Iryna would take a book by Yuriy Izdryk, a contemporary Ukrainian writer.
  • Andriy: an album of the greatest R&B songs, an Aventura album, three albums of Ukrainian folk and patriotic music. Andriy would take a book like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to teach himself how to survive on the desert island.
  • Christina: Друга Ріка (Ukrainian rock group), Tokio (Russian rock group), an Argentinian band whose name I didn’t catch, Lama (Ukrainian group), and С.К.А.Й. Christina’s book: a big picture-heavy book of Sniatyn!
  • Oleh K.: Вправо Вибору (his own band!), a metal band whose name I missed, TOL (Ukrainian new metal), In Flames, and AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” He’d take a book of European mythology.
  • Marta: С.К.А.Й., Adele, Друга Ріка, Dozen Dreams, Nickelback. She’d take a book called Blood and Milk.
  • Tammela (that’s me! I played selections of each of my choices): Beethoven’s complete symphonies, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Ingrid Michaelson’s greatest hits, and Shaban und Käptn Peng. I’d take the complete works of Shakespeare as my book, because I’d probably have plenty of time on the desert island to make my way through.

Can you guess the ages and/or professions of these people? Who’s a pupil and who’s an adult?

After Desert Island Discs, I put everyone in pairs. I tried to pair pupils with adults because otherwise they wouldn’t work together and I wanted to see what would happen. The task: I introduced five English idioms and the pairs had to compose dialogues and use each idiom at least once. The idioms:

  • “spill the beans”
  • “to lose one’s marbles”
  • “dull as dishwater”
  • “down in the dumps”
  • “by hook or crook”

The pairs worked well together and came up with some good dialogues and really good usages of the idioms. I felt proud. Here are some photos of the pairs working and performing:

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10 thoughts on “Desert Island Discs

    1. taplatt Post author

      Yeah, everyone really seemed to like it! And one of the guys even pointed out that we could do that with anything — not just music, but books, etc.

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