/ B1, B2, Grammar training, Speaking and Conversation, Teachers

November 2020 – Third conditional is a tough grammar point and it’s also difficult to make students practise it, since it is not so often used in real life situations. Doing automatized exercises seems to work for the moment, but fails on the long run. To help students memorize the structure, you might want to spend some time making them do different engaging activities over a couple of lessons. Here are some ideas how they could practice third conditional sentences.

Sentence completion:

HERE IS A WORKSHEET with sentence starters. Ask your students to complete them (the worksheet goes over all conditional forms). Monitor their answers.
It’s easier to remember a sample sentence than the formula for a construction and it’s easier to remember sentences which appeal to us. So, You might want to personalize the sentences and write similar sentence beginnings to every letter of the name ‘third conditional’ with your students’ names and some reference to your class history.

I was about…: Give a list of sentences to your students each of them starting with ‘I was about to’ (HANDOUT). You can read the sentences to your students and they need to complete the sentences saying why they couldn’t finish the action in question. After each sentence stop and transform the completed sentence into a third conditional sentence: I was about to lie-in on Sunday but my mother-in-law paid us an unannounced visit. – If my mother-in-law hadn’t paid us an unannounced visit, I would have lain in. Go through half of the list and assign for homework the second half.
N.B. It’s important that you also practise memo-games during this task, so don’t only give the handout to your students, but make them listen to your sentence starter, finish it and remember the whole sentence while applying the third conditional rules. Make them repeat their transformed sentence twice or three times to drill correct pronunciation (‘of‘ instead of ‘have‘).

Third conditional in a song:

Adele’s song ‘If It Hadn’t Been for Love’ has been famous for its grammar utility, although it also contains one incorrect conditional sentence (‘Never would have took a mind to track him down‘). Still, it is an enjoyable way to make students practise this grammar point while listening to a great song. Here’s the INTERACTIVE WORKSHEET TO THE SONG.

Third conditional after a film:

My choice is The Devil wears Prada. Assign the film for homework to your class. Ask your students to listen for the following sentences in the film (Here is the HANDOUT, feel free to shorten it):
You have some very large shoes to fill.
– That’s all.
– I screwed it up.
– To be interested in fashion is crucial.
– She is not supposed to be here before 10.
– My job sucks.
– I was impressed how much you tried to inform me.
– I turned my back on my friends.
– This bloody job.
– You must be kidding me.
– When I do a good job, it is unacknowledged.
– I know this city like the back of my hand.
– You are crossing over to the dark site.
– Will it fit me?
– For Christ’s sake!
– You are scaring me.
– I barely see my family:
– It’s only what I threw on tonight.
– My work is done.
– Stop fidgeting!
– It turns out that you are defending her.
– I could introduce you two to each other.
– Give my best to your boyfriend.
– Pick up the phone!
– I am freaking out.
– I am out of excuses.
– We split up.
– Take a break.
– I don’t need to fetch him at the airport.
– Anyway, I don’t really care.
– It’s just unfair to the girls.
– She has a fresher take on this stuff.
– She is a big girl, she’ll be fine.
– Have you lost your mind?

Students should pay attention to who says the sentence to whom and in which scene.

In the coming lesson, ask for feedback and ask some follow-up questions about the film:
1) Why does Miranda hire Andy?
2) Why did Andy decide to work for Runway?
3) Why did Andy break up with her boyfriend and lost touch to her friends?
4) Why did Andy change her appearance while working for the Runway?
5) Why did Nigel help Andy?
6) Why didn’t Miranda inform Nigel about her decision regarding the promotion?
7) Why didn’t Miranda promote Nigel?
8) Why did Nigel hold on to Runway after Jacqueline’s promotion?
9) Why was Christian interested in Andy?
10) Why did Andy give all her clothes to Emily?
Finally turn to the topic ‘Third Conditional’: Write three of the questions above onto the whiteboard (or in the chat box) and ask your students to discuss (in pairs) what would have happened if the things in the questions had been different? For example: If Miranda hadn’t hired Andy, she would have never broken up with her boyfriend.
Ask for (open-class) feedback. Continue with further questions (in open class).

Wind down your film lesson with a role-play activity. Find some role-play ideas on this QUIZLET card set to this film.

You can adapt any film to third conditional. Exploit your students’ interest and choose a film that might apply to them.
Repeat the tasks over some period of time, for example, start your lessons for a month with a sentence completion exercise (three sentences on the whiteboard) or some quick questions recalling third conditional: Sam, did you take the bus to come here? – Yes. – What would have happened, if you had missed the bus?


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