How can I help students use conditional sentences?

Best tasks to practise Conditionals

Best tasks to practise Conditionals

25.09.2022

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  • Activities
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If you had to teach Conditionals to your students, how would you do that? In fact, learning Conditional Sentences is easier than using all their types in speech.

Some students find it difficult to understand and use English Conditional Sentences. Sometimes it seems that the student understands all the Conditionals separately, does the grammar exercises correctly, but when it comes to use in oral speech or writing, something goes wrong. Are you familiar with such a situation?

Today, we are offering a selection of tasks for the practice of Conditional Sentences in English classes. Their main advantage is that almost any of the tasks can be adapted to any type of Conditionals.

Chain Conditionals

This task focuses on the form of a Conditional Sentence and on building grammatical accuracy. At the same time, students perform controlled practice, as they will have to use this grammatical structure in a limited context. The teacher reads the first sentence. 

  • For example, a Conditional Sentence of Type 3: “If I had bought that car a year ago, I would have saved a lot of money.” 
  • The next student should use part 2 of the conditional sentence read by the teacher and make a new one. For example: “If I had saved a lot of money, I would have gone on holiday”. 
  • Then students continue, using the ideas from the previous sentences: “If I had gone on holiday, I would have visited many countries”, etc.

You can add an element of competition and divide students into teams. Teams make sentences in turns. The team that says the last sentence if the opponents have no ideas wins. The sentences must be grammatically correct.

Clues

This game can be played with the whole class, and it focuses on the free use of Conditional Sentences, i.e. we use it at the stage of freer practice. 

  • One of the students leaves the class. In the meantime, you and the other students agree on a word for the student to guess.
  • When the student returns, other students give him clues using Conditional Sentences. 
  • Again, they can make up clues depending on the type of sentences you want to work on. For example, if you and your students have chosen the word “mustard,” the clues might look like this:
  1. If I were you, I’d be careful not to get this on my clothes.
  2. If I were you, I’d never eat this by itself.
  3. If you were a waitress, you would put this on the table next to the ketchup.
  4. If I were you, I would always put it on hot dogs.
  • The student can also ask questions to other students, but he must use the proper grammatical structure. For example: “If I didn’t eat spicy food, would I eat this?”.
  • The game continues until the student says the correct answer.

Activity can be easily adapted to other types of Conditional Sentences.

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Line-Ups

This is a communicative task that you can prepare in advance or with your students in class. You will need cards with questions that you can make up yourself, or ask students to make questions and write them on the cards. Example:

  • If your parents told you not to see your boyfriend/girlfriend, what would you do?
  • If your friend gave you a puppy for your birthday, what would you do?
  • If your friend makes mistakes in grammar while speaking, do you correct him/her?
  • If you were invited for dinner to a friend’s house and the food was terrible, what would you say or do?

Again, questions can be composed using different types of Conditional Sentences.

Divide the students into 2 groups and ask them to face each other in the “question line” and “answer line”

  1. Students from the question line receive question cards and ask those questions to their partner. He answers and moves on to the next student in the question line. 
  2. Students in the question line do not move. Their task is to memorize the answers of students from the “answer line”. 
  3. When the questions are over, we conduct a “whole class feedback”. Then students can swap roles and play the game again.

Songs

English songs should not be underestimated either, as they contain excellent examples of the use of Conditional Sentences. Take at least :

In addition to noticing different forms of Conditionals in songs and focusing on pronunciation, songs can also serve as a starting point for discussion or writing. Take, for example, the song by Cher “If I Could Turn Back Time”. Invite students to write an essay or discuss the topic: “If you could change something you did in the past, what would it be?”

For homework, ask students to listen to a few songs and find out how they use certain types of Conditional Sentences.

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As you can see, the tasks offered today are easily adapted to the needs of your students and the topic being studied. How do you practise Conditionals with your students?

Article authors & editors
  • Yulia Chorna

    Yulia Chorna

    Author

    DELTA Module 1, CELTA certified teacher of General & Business English

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