A designer lessons ESL lesson plan developed by George Chilton

I’d hate to count the number of times I’ve misplaced a file or paper and had to remake the same stupid worksheet…then found the old one, which was slightly better. Anyway, I think teachers are also pretty good at doing that on the macro-scale too – coming up with the same activities as each other over and over and over again. I first used this a while ago, but wouldn’t dream of taking the credit as it has most definitely been done before by other intercontinental TEFLoids and CELTAs and Dippers out there.

Moving on, I like it because it takes no preparation (my favourite kind of activity), it is always related  to the students directly, and, of course, they get to talk about themselves.

Lesson aims

  • 3rd conditional
  • Self-reflection
  • Conversation skills

Stage OneYour life in 5 sentences

Draw a timeline on the board. The start date should be around 10 years ago, but that’s up to you.

Write 5 or 6 important decisions you took at various points in your life. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you could do the same for a celebrity, as I’m doing here with the floppy-haired Canadian warbler Justin Bieber. For the sake of your street-cred, I do not recommend that you use him in your lesson.

1994___ 2005____2008____________2009_________2010_____________2011______2012

  • ’94 Mrs Bieber gives birth to the future floppy haired Canadian Warbler, Justin.
    Justin Bieber at the 2010 White House Easter E...
  • ’05 Youtube is invented.
  • ’08 In a fit of madness, Justin’s mother encourages him to post videos to Youtube.
  •  ’09 Justin is discovered by the RBMG label.
  • November 2010 – Bieber releases My World, and causes many teen girls to catch “Bieber fever.”
  • November 2011 – 17-year-old Bieber is embroiled in a unfounded pregnancy scandal.

Tell your students to do the same, but for themselves. Make it clear that they should only choose to write about things they are comfortable speaking about. The last thing you need is weepy students.

Ask your students to explain their timeline to a partner. They can spend 2 minutes asking and answering questions.

Stage Two 3rd Conditional structure and a hypothetical life

Now draw out a parallel line under your personal/celebrity time-line. Tell your students you are going to take them to a parallel world, where the possibilities are endless. Or, you could tell them that they’re going to study the 3rd conditional.

  • Ask them why we use the third conditional:

In order to demonstrate a hypothetical situation in the past / To imagine something that did not happen for some reason

  • Show the structure of the conditional:

If + subject + past perfect / subject + would (not) have + infinitive + clause

  • Ask if they can give an example relating to your example timeline (if not, show them):

If Bieber’s mother had not encouraged him, he would not have put his videos on Youtube.

  • Make sure to concept check with questions along the lines of, “In this example, did Bieber’s mother encourage him?” / “Did he put the videos on Youtube?”

Now make a new “parallel” life for yourself on the board – and by this, I mean a conditional chain. Each sentence should relate to the previous one; showing how your life would have been different if you had made another decision. Ask your students to help you construct the sentences. Possibly make mistakes in the conditionals yourself, so that the students can correct them.

For instance:

If Bieber’s mother had not encouraged him, he would not have put his videos on Youtube.

If Justin had not put his videos on Youtube, he would not have been discovered by the record label.

If he had not been discovered by the record label, he would not have become famous and there would have been no Bieber Fever.


Stage Three – Imagination

Ask your students to construct a parallel life for themselves. They should do this in pairs  and write a 3rd conditional chain like yours. Monitor your students closely.

To round-up, ask your students to call out some of their conditionals. Correct them if need be and give them a controlled practice activity as homework. Anything relevant from a coursebook’d do.

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Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Creado a partir de la obra en designerlessons.wordpress.com