The other day on Lindsay Clandfield's blog, he did a posting entitled Six Tired Examples for Teaching Grammar, including the standard, seen EVERYWHERE: in every coursebook and every grammar book ever published in the history of ELT, er, 'xcuse me while I start snoring:
If I won a million dollars I would buy...
His post is a list of terrible examples (very fun and worth reading) but I thought I'd just grab this one and bring it on over here to talk about the 2nd conditional and how practicing this form with your students really doesn't have to be so stale.
'Cause let's face it, they've done it to death since they were kids in their first English classes.
If you picked up a scratchy card at the newsagents and suddenly won €10, what would you buy?
A nice coffee at Starbucks for yourself and a colleague?
If you entered the church bingo and suddenly won €100, what would you buy?
Couple of DVD TV Series? An internet TV card? A nice perfume and expensive make-up? Pair of shoes?
If a family relation died and you inherited €1000, it's not exactly a whole heap of money so what would you do?
Take a nice holiday? Buy new winter tires?
And what if you were lucky enough to get a €10,000 start-up grant for a new business idea? What would you invest this in?
What if you did enter the lottery, jackpot of €4million but you only managed to snag €50,000 of it, how would you spend this?
And if you got €500,000? A cool mil? 5 mil?
Did I just hear you pause?
Make grammar real and approachable and your students will be able to come up with their own thoughts, ideas - they'll start owning the language and comfortably communicate their own hypothetical suggestions.
Because personally, I don't know about you, but if I won €1,000,0000 I would have absolutely no idea how to spend it - no doubt I would probably waste it on stupid big houses and yachts and charity events - I'm crap at math so then maybe, I might even end up going bankrupt like all those pictures of people we see in textbooks.
Oh great, so the 2nd conditional is actually depressing.
What about you?
Forget about the million dollars... and go on, tell me what would you do if someone suddenly gave you €5,000 to do something somewhat related to learning teaching English?
Useful links related to this posting:
Easy sheet to use in class
(you can use this whenever you're teaching the 2nd conditional or you're discussing money as a theme in a conversation class).
- StrictlyNicky's blog posting (inc. worksheet) using Beyonce's "If I were a boy"
Update May 22, 09:
Alex Case has a list of 2nd conditional alternatives to the lottery: supernatural correction
and if you're on the hunt for a great youtube vid to extend the lesson with, I'd recommend this story of a New Zealand couple who became accidental millionaires due to a clerical mistake, ask students what they'd do in Yang's shoes!