My way of teaching conditionals

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My way of teaching conditionals

Unread post by DCox » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:27 pm

Hi fellow teachers!

My name is Dave, and I have been teaching in Prague for around 3 years now. I just wanted to quickly share my method for teaching and revising unreal conditionals.

Most of my students have come across conditionals before at some point, and they have all learnt them in terms of conditional I, conditional II, conditional III etc. I have found that students have difficulties with this method, and never seem to remember which conditional they need, let alone remembering the conditional constructions.

So I have come up with what I feel is a simpler way to learn them, which has yielded good results with my students so far.

Firstly, I explain to my students that there are 2 parts to a conditional sentence, the if part and the would part.

I say that the if part has two possibilities, it can talk about the past, or it can talk about the present / future
The would part also has 2 possibilities, it can also talk about the past, or it can talk about the present / future
I then say that just because the if part talks about the past, it does not mean that the would part must also talk about the past.  You can mix the if part and the would part to talk about different situations:
If = Present          ‘If I was rich (now)
Would = Present   ’I would buy a house’ (now)
If = Past               ’If I hadn’t missed the train (in the past)
Would = Past         ‘I wouldn’t have been late’ (in the past)
If = Past               ‘If I had worked harder at school (in the past)
Would = Present  ‘I would have a good job’ (now)
If = Present / general  ‘If I wasn’t so shy (in general)
Would = Past           ‘I would have asked her to come on a date’ (past)

I then show them the diagram at this link ... ditionals/ (sorry I couldn't work out how to upload the image), and get my student to write some example sentences in each section of the diagram to make full conditional sentences.

I feel that this has given me the best results mainly for revising conditionals, because it teaches students 2nd, 3rd and both types of mixed conditionals all in one. Let me know what you think!

I have some more diagrams on the website with the link I posted above.


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