Parallel universes: a 2nd conditional activity
Teaching the second conditional has to be one of my favourite lessons, probably because I’m a daydreamer and I often find myself thinking about what could be or what if. This is a great activity I use to let me students practise the second conditional and it can be modified for higher level learners to incorporate the third conditional and mixed conditionals:
- Start the lesson by telling your students that you woke up depressed this morning and you think you are going through a bit of a crisis (quarter-life or mid-life, depending on your age!). Tell them you are extremely dissatisfied with your life and that your life is not what you expected it to be.
- Then tell students about your life, paying particular attention to your personal life and occupation, explaining why you are not happy with the situation – I’m married with two kids. I love my kids but they take up all my time, and my money! Children are so expensive these days. I work all day just to make sure they can have the latest iPad! If possible, bring in photos or find visuals to support your story.
- Then tell your students of your dream life, what you wish your life was like. This must be the opposite of what it is now: If I wasn’t married, I’d be teaching English in a little village in Spain. I wouldn’t have any kids so I could go to the bar every evening after work and spend all my money on sangria and tapas. If I lived in Spain, I’d spend my weekends at the beach and I’d go to France for holidays. Feel free to embellish and, again, to have visuals.
- Give the students some time to make notes on their current lives (keywords or topics can be boarded)
- Students then first tell each other (in pairs, or groups) about their current lives and then explain what their lives would be like in a parallel universe ie if things had happened differently.
As you can probably see, this activity lends itself to third conditional and mixed conditional situations as well.