On a desert island
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich talk about a radio programme that has been running on the BBC for 75 years. The programme is called Desert Island Discs and it involves famous people imagining that they have been stranded on a desert island with only eight music records (discs) for company. To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the BBC invited David Beckham on the show. In this week's podcast, we imagine the same situation but the emphasis is on football rather than music. The language focus is on unreal conditionals and your task is to answer the same questions that Rich answers in the podcast, using conditional sentences. As always, we also have a new football phrase for you to guess. Enjoy!
Jack: What are you listening to, Rich?
Rich: Sorry, what did you say?
Jack: What are you listening to?
Rich: I’m listening to the radio.
Jack: Yes, I can see that but what are you listening to?
Rich: It’s a programme on Radio 4 from the BBC. It’s called Desert Island Discs.
Jack: Ah. I haven’t listened to that for years. Who’s on?
Rich: It’s David Beckham.
Jack: Ahh! I thought it was strange that you were listening to Desert Island Discs.
Rich: It’s actually a great programme. They have really big stars on it - but not usually footballers.
Jack: I tell you what, I think we could do our own Desert Island Discs in this week’s podcast, what do you reckon?
Rich: That sounds like a great idea! Let’s do it!
Welcome - Desert Island Discs
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about a radio programme that has been on the BBC for 75 years.
Jack: That’s right. It’s called Desert Island Discs and it’s a weekly interview with a famous person who speaks about their life through music.
Rich: And as I’ve just said David Beckham has been on the programme recently. The idea is that the famous person has to imagine that he or she has been stranded on a desert island and is the only person on the island.
Jack: But they are allowed to choose seven discs or songs that survived with them and they have to say what they would choose and why.
Rich: So, we’re going to take the programme’s main idea and change it a bit so we can use it to help you with your English.
Jack: Yes, we’re going to have six different ‘if you’ questions that ask about football, music, food and other things ...
Rich: The practice dialogue will be a great way to focus on conditional sentences and other words we use when speaking about imaginary or hypothetical situations.
Jack: And your task will be to use the same type of language we use in the dialogues to answer the questions that Rich answers in this podcast.
Rich: Don’t forget there is information about the language we use on the page below and activities to help you understand, too.
Jack: Make sure you listen to the end of the podcast because we have another football phrase for you as well.
Topic Focus - David Beckham
Jack: So, you were listening to David Beckham on Desert Island Discs. I wonder what songs he chose. Hold on! I bet I can guess … I imagine he chose the Spice Girls - his wife would’ve been angry if he hadn’t chosen them.
Rich: Actually, no he didn’t choose the Spice Girls. He spoke about his life before, during and after football and made some interesting choices.
Jack: Go on then. Tell me some of them. I bet I’ve never heard of them.
Rich: Well, he connected lots of his music to where he was playing. He chose the Stone Roses because they were popular when he was playing for Manchester Utd, Alejandro Sanz for his time in Spain with Real Madrid and Sidney Bechet for his time with Paris St.Germain.
Jack: And what was his top pick - his favourite?
Rich: He chose Every time we say Goodbye by Ella Fitzgerald and his reason had nothing to do with football.
Jack: What was it?
Rich: You will have to listen to the programme to find out. I’ve put a link below … just click on the photo of David Beckham and it will take you to the page on the BBC.
Jack: Any more interesting things in the programme?
Rich: Well, he talks about his first dates with Victoria. You would imagine they would have been in a top London restaurant somewhere but it seems they were actually in a car park!
Jack: Right, OK. Anyway, Rich, in the next section of the podcast I want you to imagine that you are on a desert island and I want you to imagine that you can have six things with you, right?
Rich: OK, let’s go.
Topic Focus - Stranded on a desert island
Jack: Welcome to the show, Rich. So, first of all let me explain the rules of the show. You have been left on a desert island with no phone, internet or any way to communicate, you have basic food and water and shelter and an old DVD player and music player so you don’t need to worry about that.
Rich: That’s a relief!
Jack: So you have to imagine that you were on a boat and it sank.
Rich: It sank? I’m not a very good swimmer.
Jack: It’s OK. You didn’t drown.
Rich: Oh - thanks.
Jack: When you were washed up on the shore, six things were washed up with you. One CD, one film or book, one meal, one other person, one football match, and one other luxury item.
Rich: Really a football match washed up on the shore?? A meal? But it would get wet and it would be cold!
Jack: It’s a game Rich. Come on! You’ve got to use your imagination a bit!
Rich: OK, sorry. I’m ready for the questions - let’s go.
Jack: Question number one: If you could choose one song to listen to on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: A tricky one. I think I might choose the Anfield Rap. Do you remember it? The Liverpool team doing a bit of hip hop.
Jack: Really? It was awful.
Rich: No, not really. Yes, it was awful. Mmm … I don’t know what I’d choose … probably Oasis because that’s the band I liked most when I was about 16. I went to an Oasis concert once and there were 125,000 people there - it was like a football match! The support was brilliant, too. The Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy - lots of dancing.
Jack: Not my cup of tea but sounds like it would be something you’d definitely maybe remember.
Rich: Next question.
Jack: Question number two: If you could choose one book or film to keep with you on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: Books? It would have to be a book rather than a film. It would take longer! What about the Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Jack: That would probably give you nightmares! It’s about a group of boys stranded on an island.
Rich: Exactly. I think I’d really be able to connect with the characters.
Jack: Question number three: If you could choose one person to be with you on the desert island, who would it be? You can’t choose family or friends, OK?
Rich: Well, you know that I fancy myself as a bit of coach. So, I’d probably go for Sir Alex Ferguson. I’d get a few tips from him and when I got off the island I’d walk into any coaching job in the Premier League.
Jack: Mmm good choice. I’m sure he’s got loads of great stories too to keep you entertained. Question number four: If you could choose one meal to eat on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: A meal? Well, it’s a desert island so I’d have to choose something for a hot climate. A bit of Gazpacho, you know it’s Spanish a kind of cold tomato soup, then maybe some fried fish and some melon for dessert. Lovely. Oh and an ice cold beer.
Jack: That makes me hungry... and thirsty. Question number five: If you could choose one football match to watch again and again on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: So many to choose from ... I really remember the World Cup in Italy in 1990. England v Germany in the semi final. Germany won on penalties. I was about 10 years old and in tears.
Jack: I think it would be better to choose a happier match.
Rich: You’re right. The miracle of Istanbul. The Champions League final between Liverpool and Milan in 2005. Brilliant.
Jack: Question number six: Imagine that you could choose one thing as a luxury item. You can have anything you want. Well, nearly anything … you can’t choose a helicopter to escape or a mobile phone to call the lifeguard alright?
Rich: Yep, I get it.
Jack: So, what would you choose?
Rich: I think I’d choose the football results. Yep, that’s right. Every Sunday I’d like to know who has won who has lost and who has scored. I think I’d go crazy if I didn’t know the football scores.
Jack: Ha! An unsurprising choice there, Rich!
Language Focus - Conditionals - Task
Jack: In the previous section, we used lots of conditional sentences to talk about hypothetical situations.
Rich: In this week’s lesson - on the page below on Premier Skills English, we’ve got more information about these types of sentences and how to say them plus a couple of activities for you to do.
Jack: Read the information in the lesson below, do the activities and then move on to this week’s task where we want you to use these conditional structures.
Rich: This week’s task is to answer the same questions that I answered in this podcast.
Jack: That’s right, we want you to imagine that you are stranded on a desert island. Write your answers in the comments section below.
Rich: Here are the six questions we want you to answer again:
Jack: Question number one: If you could choose one song to listen with you on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: Question number two: If you could choose one book to read or film to watch on the desert island, what would it be?
Jack: Question number three: If you could choose one person to be with you on the desert island, who would it be? You can’t choose family or friends, OK?
Rich: Question number four: If you could choose one meal to eat on the desert island, what would it be?
Jack: Question number five: If you could choose one football match to watch again and again on the desert island, what would it be?
Rich: Question number six: What luxury item would you have with you on the island? You can choose anything you want.
Can you work out this week’s football phrase?
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was pre-season tour. This is when clubs go to a different country or a number of countries to play a few pre-season matches. For example, Liverpool have been on a pre-season tour in Hong Kong.
Rich: Yes, they won the Premier League Asia Trophy against Leicester City in the final. A sign of good things to come for the Reds this season … I hope.
Jack: Well done to Liubomyr from Ukraine, AssemJuve from Palestine, Phhchuong from Vietnam, Ahmed Adam from Sudan, and Kwesimanifest from Ghana. You all got the right answer!
Rich: What’s this week’s football phrase, Jack?
Jack: The football phrase is to **** * ***. This is happening a lot at the moment during the transfer window. Clubs **** * *** for a player and the other club decides to accept or reject it depending if they want to sell the player or not.
Rich: A bit tricky this one. People might use the word offer when guessing this phrase so I’m going to say now that that isn’t the word you need to use.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
A famous person has to imagine that they are stranded on a desert island.
What was David Beckham's top pick? What was his favourite?
There were a few more tricky words and connected to hotels in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
How do you say something that is hypothetical or imaginary?
In this podcast, Rich imagined that he was stranded on a desert island (on his own). He was allowed to have a few different things with him and Jack asked six different questions. All the questions followed the same pattern. Look at the questions below that Jack asked Rich. What are the words that go in the gaps?
If you ______ choose one song to listen to on the island, what ______ it be?
If you ______ choose one football match to watch again and again on the island, what ______ it be?
If you ______ choose one person to be with you on the island, who ______ it be?
You probably guessed from using your knowledge of grammar that the words in the gaps are could and would. All of the questions follow the same pattern and are used to ask about imaginary, unreal or hypothetical situations. This structure is also often called the second conditional.
The second conditional usually follows this pattern:
if + past simple followed by would + infinitive
or, like with all conditional sentences, you can reverse the two clauses:
would + infinitive followed by if + past simple
In the podcast, the questions are a little bit different. Jack used the modal can. In the second conditional, when we use can we follow the same pattern and put them in the past, but, we have to remember, that it is followed by the infinitive:
If you could choose ...
When the context is clear to the listener, the if clause is often dropped and not used at all. This means that the questions above could also be written as follows:
Which song would you listen to on the island (if you could only choose one)?
Which football match would you watch?
Which person would you choose to be with?
Take a look at the following activity that includes some more conditional sentences that were used in the podcast and some other sentences, too. Can you choose the right words for each gap?
Let's look at one of Rich's answers from the podcast:
I would probably go for Sir Alex Ferguson. I'd get a few tips from him and when I got off the island, I'd walk into any coaching job in the Premier League.
There are a couple of things to notice in this answer.
- This is a short answer. Remember that it's not necessary to say the if clause. In fact, it wouldn't sound very natural to repeat the whole conditional sentence in this context.
- You can add an adverb (probably, definitely) between would and the main verb. This can add a level of certainty to your answer.
- Rich began his answer by using the full form would but then later used contractions: I'd get = I would get and I'd walk = I would walk
Listen to the podcast again and look at the transcript at the same time. Listen to how Rich answers each question. Can you see or hear any more examples of the second conditional?
What would you choose to keep on a desert island?
In the podcast, Rich answered six questions about things that he would like to have with him if he was stranded on a desert island. We would like you to do the same thing and write your answers in the comments section at the bottom of this page. Here are the six questions:
If you could choose one song to listen to on the desert island, what would it be?
If you could choose one book or film to keep with you, what would it be?
If you could choose one person to be with you, who would it be? (No family or friends!)
If you could choose one meal to eat, what would it be?
If you could choose one football match to watch again and again, what would it be?
If you could choose one luxury item, what would it be?
Write your answer in the comments section below and don't forget to reply to other people's messages, too!
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about a BBC radio programme called Desert Island Discs.
Have you ever listened to a programme like this? Is there something similar in your country? Which famous person would you like to listen to on this programme?
Look at the six Desert Island Questions in the task above and write your answers.
Remember to write your guess at this week's football phrase, too!