Canadian Woman Survives 7 Weeks in Wild (Intermediate Lesson Plan)

With Answers! | Download Survival ESL Lesson plan here: Survival-Woman-Found-Intermediate-10052011.doc  Donate towards our web hosting bill!

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan : Warm-up

1)    Do people celebrate Mother’s Day in your country?
2)    What is the longest you’ve gone without eating?
3)    Have you ever been seriously lost?

Canadian Woman Survives 7 Weeks in Wild (May 10th, 2011)

Last weekend, a group of hunters were surprised to come across a van in the remote wilderness of northern Nevada. There was a note on the front window that read “STUCK!” Inside they found a 56-year old Canadian woman, Rita Chretien, who was alive but suffering from starvation.
Chretien was able to drink some water and explain that she and her husband had gotten lost on the way to Las Vegas an unbelievable seven weeks ago. After three days in the van, her husband ventured off to try to find a nearby town. Chretien stayed and rationed her food: hard candy and trail mix (dried fruit and nuts). She ate a bit every day until the food ran out, along with snow. Chretien said she expected her ordeal to last only a few days.
Doctors now monitoring Chretien’s health say they have never heard of a patient surviving such a long period with so little food. A clinical dietician taking care of Chretien credited her survival, in part, to the fact that she did not use up a lot of energy. Chretien is still on a liquid diet.
Her family was relieved to have her back for Mother’s Day. The family had hired a private plane to search for the couple, but they said because of the vast geography, it was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Friends of the family suggest their GPS unit in the van may have caused them to get lost, as the units often cannot reliably distinguish between well-paved and rough roads. The couple had a cell phone, but there was no service for 9 miles.
The woman’s husband has yet to be found. [279 words]

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan : Comprehension Questions

  1. Where was the couple going?
  2. According to the clinical dietician, what helped Rita Chretien survive?
  3. The family said that searching for the couple was like finding a needle in a haystack. What does this idiom mean?
  4. What do friends of the family believe may have caused the couple to get lost?
1 – They were on their way to Las Vegas (from Canada).
2 – Rita stayed in the van, and did not use much of her body's energy. This may have helped her survive.
3 – It means it was an impossible task. It was impossible to find them.
4 – They may have gotten lost because of the GPS unit in the van, which may not have given them a reliable route to use.

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan : Vocabulary Matching

Match the words with their meaning as used in the news lesson.
remote (adjective)
venture (verb)
ration (verb)
credit (verb)
relieved (adjective)
  • remote – faraway, distant
  • wilderness – undeveloped area difficult to live in
  • starvation – extreme hunger
  • venture – set out, journey
  • ration – limit, conserve
  • ordeal – unpleasant experience
  • credit – cause (something good), attribute
  • relieved – glad
  • vast – huge, broad
  • reliably – dependably

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan : Connect the below idea(s) to make a sentence.

government / uprising
venture / remote
starvation / die
ration / water
survive / ordeal
credit / success
reliably / calculate
vast / wilderness
Possible Answers:
  • The men ventured off into a remote area to hunt grizzly bears.
  • People are dying of starvation in undeveloped countries.
  • We need to ration our water in emergency situations.
  • Thankfully, Rita Chretien survived the ordeal.
  • I credit my brother with the success of our family business.
  • My computer can reliably calculate the temperature in my room.
  • The man disappeared in the vast Canadian wilderness.

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan: Role-Play


You and your partner(s) are going on a business trip in North Canada. Unfortunately, your plane crashes into the wilderness. The pilot dies. You and your partner(s) survive. The nearest town is 25 km away. There are many rivers in the area. The time is 2pm. The temperature is -25 and the nighttime temperature will be -40.

Items: You have the below list of items available to you. Rank the items in order of importance to your survival.

Order :
a newspaper
a 40 ounce bottle of Russian Vodka
a compass
a plastic air map made of the area
an axe
a lighter (without fluid)
a loaded gun
a 5m x 5m plastic sheet
three chocolate bars
an extra shirt and pair of pants for each person 
Compare your list with your partner. Discuss how each item can be used. Try to come to an agreement on the best possible order. (For hints about the answers, see

Survival ESL News Lesson Plan : Discussion Questions

(Write your answers in the Comments section below if you wish).

  1. What would you have done if you were in Rita Chretien’s situation?
  2. What survival skills do you have?
  3. Fasting: Some people go without food for a long time to improve their bodies or minds. Can not eating make your body and mind healthier and stronger?
  4. Trusting Technology: Are tools such as GPS and Google Maps always helpful?
  5. “The Survival of the Fittest”: How important are survival skills in our society? Does the term “Survival of the Fittest” still apply?
  6. Is Darwin’s “Natural Selection” still happening?

News lesson plan copyright Matthew Barton of

Was this helpful? Donate to our web hosting bill to show your support!

5 comments on “Canadian Woman Survives 7 Weeks in Wild (Intermediate Lesson Plan)

  1. Hanz Dayrit (Posted on 5-17-2011 at 03:14) Reply

    Im so happy that I found, I’ve used the lessons twice and have been getting positive and lively discussions with my students. Keep up the great work.

  2. admin (Posted on 5-17-2011 at 09:58) Reply

    good to hear!
    I’m just waiting for something newsworthy to happen so I can write another lesson =) If you have any more feedback about what works/does not work, please let me know.

  3. Bobby Swain (Posted on 6-22-2015 at 00:59) Reply

    I’m also happy that I found your site! Thank You very much for the free lessons, I will donate to your site as I’m a strong believer in giving back:)

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 6-22-2015 at 17:19) Reply

      Great! Glad to hear that you are finding it useful.

  4. Ana McGinley (Posted on 4-2-2018 at 01:59) Reply

    Matthew Barton – you do a great lesson plan!! Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.