What’s in My Bag?: Discussion Activities Based on Earthquake Preparedness

Amy Ives Takebe, Oklahoma State University

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: English for Specific Purposes (ESP), emergency bag, disaster preparedness, discussion activity 
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to high intermediate
  • Learner maturity: University and above
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Activity time: 60 minutes
  • Materials: YouTube video (Checklist: What to Pack in Your Earthquake Emergency Kit: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area, 2019), handout of adapted video transcript, Pair Activity: What to Pack? (Appendix A), handout of Group Activity: What’s in My Emergency Bag? (Appendix B)

While Japan is an earthquake-prone country, not many foreign language textbooks include a unit on building communicative competence within the discourse context of emergency. This is a critical topic, especially for those who are interested in serving as multilingual disaster volunteers. This lesson centers on the preparedness phase of emergency management in which the main task for emergency management personnel is to help community members prepare for future disasters (Phillips et al., 2017). In this lesson, students will listen to an expert’s comments on what should be included in an emergency bag and discuss essential items that should be packed in individuals’ emergency bags based on their needs. 



Step 1: Print enough copies of Appendix A and B.

Step 2: Set up the video.



Step 1: Divide the class into pairs. 

Step 2: As a warm-up activity, ask students to discuss six must-have items for an emergency bag.

Step 3: Distribute the video transcript (Appendix A). Explain that it includes statements about essential items that should be in an emergency bag, but the names of the essential items have been removed.

Step 4: Have the students read the transcript with their partners and guess the names of the items. Encourage students to check unfamiliar vocabulary or expressions.

Step 5: Play the video and review the items in the transcript with the class.

Step 6: Replay the video and ask students to focus on items that were not listed in the transcript. Pause or replay the video as required, and help with any parts the students find challenging.

Step 7: As a segue into the next activity, ask students if the content of the emergency bag would be different based on the social demographics of the bag owners.

Step 8: Divide the class into three groups, distribute Appendix B, and assign each group a specific socio-demographic characteristic (Group A: Senior citizens, Group B: Parents with children under three years old, Group C: International exchange students).

Step 9: Explain that each group will discuss and make a list of items that they would pack in an emergency bag based on their assigned socio-demographic characteristics.

Step 10: Allow time for students to discuss and make their lists. Monitor and help as necessary.

Step 11: Have the students share their lists with the class and encourage them to give constructive feedback to other groups.



The video mentions the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in the U.S. The class can visit the California Department of Conservation website for information about the earthquake.



This lesson was designed to help students use vocabulary and expressions specifically related to the topic of emergency bag planning. This lesson would be especially useful for EFL learners who are interested in serving as multilingual disaster volunteers. I recommend the instructors to use breakout rooms for the pair/group activities in online classes.



KPIX CBS SF Bay Area. (2019, October 15). Checklist: What to pack in your earthquake emergency kit. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFYgwinhnE8

Phillips, B. D., Neal, D. M., & Webb, G. R. (2017). Preparedness. In B. D. Phillips, D. M. Neal, & G. R. Webb, Introduction to emergency management (2nd ed., pp. 139-173). CRC Press.



The appendices are available below.