Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips
There are some lessons that as a teacher, we really enjoy teaching. Some like to teach fun chunks of functional language, some enjoy teaching the tenses, some even like teaching passive forms (for reasons I cannot begin to understand!). For me, it is conditionals, and in particular the second conditional, also known as the unreal conditional.

The reason for this is simple; it is a very useful piece of language for people like me, who like to think we would know what to do in any situation:

“If I was on that show, I would answer every question!”

“I would easily score if I had an open goal like that!”

“If I won the lottery, I would invest a lot of it to get more money!”

These are hypothetical (imaginary) situations, and we use hypotheticals to talk about many things- what we would do if we were sports stars or if we were on TV, to talk about politics, what we would do with lottery money and so on. The list is endless, from deep discussion to vulgar suggestions.

For practice, something I like to do with larger groups of five or more students is to have them compete to be ‘President of the World’.

The procedure is simple. At this point students know the form and have had some controlled practice already. One student is asked for something they would do if they were President of the World (or their country, or mayor etc.), and that is boarded, eg.

If I was President of the World, I would cut all taxes. 

Another student then suggests a question, eg.

If you cut taxes, how would you pay for schools?

With these example boarded, the class is then split into two groups. One group of at least two will be Presidential candidates (better to have three though, that way there isn’t just one ‘loser’ at the end!). This group will discuss their policies and how to suggest them. The other group will be a panel of interviewers, looking to question the ‘policies’ of the candidates, encourage them to be as harsh as possible!

Once the two groups have been allowed time to discuss their ideas and questions the room is then split, with interviewers on one side, and the candidates sitting off to the side with one facing the panel. Each candidate is given and Q&A* session. Finally, the panel votes to determine who is the best for the job of ‘President of the World’.

What I enjoy about this class is that it mimics the kind of political discussions I have had with family and friends for years. Everyone knows what they would do if they were, hypothetically speaking **, the leader of their country. This activity gives students the chance to explain their ideas in such a way and they usually have fun doing so.

Some interesting ideas I’ve heard in these classes range from the standard ‘we would have free education’ and ‘there would be free healthcare’; to the more bizarre ‘I would have any woman I wanted’ and ‘there would be no school’!


* Q&A- questions and answers

** hypothetically speakinga situation that is not real.