If I won €10, if I won €100, if I won €1000, then I would...

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.

time is moneyIf 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.

moneyWhat 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).

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!


8 Responses to “If I won €10, if I won €100, if I won €1000, then I would...”

  • Lindsay Clandfield says:
    May 15, 2009

    Ha ha! Nice posting, and as always you have that great-looking thang going with images... envious I am.
    If I won €5000 and had to spend it on English language teaching I would use some of it as a grant for teachers to go to a conference for the first time. Yeah, noble and naive perhaps but I would have really liked that when I was starting out.
    So, that would be around €1500 of the money. I'd also use some to invest in my blog or website probably (another grand). The other half I would use to do a quirky book project that wouldn't make much money but would be fun (can't think of it now, but I'm sure I would come up with something).
    Either that, or buy a really good video camera to do a vlog with my students.

    Quickest 5 grand I've ever spent. Thanks Karenne!

  • Gavin Dudeney says:
    May 15, 2009

    I'd probably take out an advert in every teacher's magazine I could find saying "Technology is not bad, you know, really - you might like to try it... Weren't you the one saying the Internet wouldn't last, round about 15 years ago?"

    May 15, 2009

    Lindsay, you've got a heart of pure gold. Can you send me please ;-) and I love the idea of a quirky book -but with Lulu bet it'd cost less, wink, wink.. glad to help you spend your cash, anytime mate!

    Gavin, my favorite quote on this front is "where are the horseshoe makers" - you know those guys that said that cars were too smelly and loud and would never catch on.

    Argh, pretty sure Daimler and Benz must have dealt with even more 'naysayers' than we do... Still, we plod on.


  • Ronaldo Lima Jr. says:
    May 20, 2009

    Great reflections, very useful post, Karenne (as usual!).

    Here is a video I've been using for a while when I want to teach/review second conditionals. It's funny and it's authentic. Hope you like it:




  • Natasa says:
    May 20, 2009

    Hi Karenne. A great lesson plan. Yes, you are right, the "If I won a million dollars" sentence is old enough by now to be sent to retirement.
    I am really bad at maths, but I would invest in a really good computer lab for my school.

  • TEFL.net says:
    May 21, 2009

    Great post! Here's Alex Case avoiding the lottery for Second Conditionals: http://www.tefl.net/alexcase/worksheets/grammar/conditionals/2nd-cond-supernatural-correction-discussion/

  • Richard Edwards says:
    November 30, 2012

    I've taught this conditional pretty badly in the past! Guilty as charged.

    I ended up doing grammar gambling with my students and they loved it more precisely because it was more real and tangible.

    In fact, so did I to the extent I made an online version of it, trying to make it relevant to their interests (sharing scores, competing etc). Please check it out - I hope you like it!!


  • Alex Case says:
    October 14, 2013

    Link now moved to:


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