A designer lessons ESL Lesson plan developed by George Chilton
Don’t let the title mislead you; I’m not trying to encourage torpescence. Far from it – in fact, this is a lesson focused on writing and speaking, using the third conditional, natural English and past modals (would have, could have, should have, might have). The lesson plan is based on a set of very short stories, which are (hopefully) engaging because they have varied vocabulary, are unexpected in a few ways and provide a hook. Each story has a somewhat disappointing ending and so the students think of a finish using the third conditional. These are so-called Lazy Stories because they leave all the hard work to the imagination of your students.
Torpescence. Not bad.
- Past modals
Stage one – Pre-teach /revise the 3rd conditional
See optional activity.
Stage Two – Reading & discussion
I’ve included my own examples of these stories, but I’d encourage teachers to write their own, if only to be familiar with the material and possibly to target specific interests of the students in the class also.
Read each text together, focusing on pronuncation, vocabulary and meaning. Ask your students how they would feel in each situation.
Here are the four texts I’ve been using with my groups this week. I like to change them up a bit as I go, to see what’s more engaging, what the students really latch on to, etc.
I awoke one night to the sound of an insistent scratching at my bedroom window. The wind was howling loudly and, very close-by, there was the distinctive cry of a baby wailing in distress. Where was it? On my window-ledge? This could not be! My whole body shook with fear. Then I turned over and went back to sleep.
– Vocabulary: scratching, howling
, close-by, wailing
, window-ledge. The majority of these words can be demonstrated by the teacher If you’re shy, check out some of the sound effects on Youtube. Click on the linked words to do so.
Activity – Ask your students to discuss what they would have done, felt and perhaps what they would have seen in that situation. Get them to agree on a course of action and then share it with the class.
I wouldn’t have gone to sleep, I think I’d have opened the window to see what was there and I would have felt quite frightened.
I was walking through the park at night, past the river. As I went by the bridge, the same old brick bridge I go past every night, I noticed something odd. A vivid green glow was emanating from under the arches and a horrible, gutteral chanting carried through the night air. I felt strangely drawn to the sound. I heard my name being said over and over, in deep, demonic voices. But I decided to ignore it and went home instead.
Emanating, brick, arches, drawn to.
Ask your students to speculate what the noise and light could have been, in their groups.
It could have been a witches’ covern. The person walking by the bridge coud have been very drunk. There could have been a very simple explanation…etc.
Then ask them to write individual third conditional sentences to say what they would have done.
If I had seen the green glow and heard the chanting of my name, I would have run away screaming.
I was on holiday in Japan and had only been there a day. I was exploring the streets of Tokyo, when I noticed an old man pause by a café table and leave an envelope. I bent down to look at it. It said “(your name), follow me.” But I didn’t.
Vocabulary: bent down.
Activities Ask students to speculate what the old man might have wanted, what you should have done.
He might have wanted to kidnap you, you should have called the police.
Ask your students to write a third conditional to say what they would have done in this situation.
Get them to create a conditional chain (please see optional activity, if you’re not sure what this is) relating to this story their groupsFour
Image via Wikipedia
As I was walking along the beach, I noticed a bottle had washed up on the sea shore. Inside there was a map. A treasure map, perhaps. I don’t care. I recycled them both in the paper and glass bins.
Vocabulary: washed up.
Activity: Use this as the beginning of a story that your students have to write in 10 minutes. They can then share this story with the rest of the class or in their groups. They must include at least one conditional.
To choose a story and write the consequences of one of the third conditionals they produced in class.
Here’s an activity you could use to review the third conditional prior to the main activity. I stress that this is revision, you probably wouldn’t find a useful way to teach it off the bat.
Write the third conditional structure on the board.
If + subject + past perfect (+clause) // subject + would have+ past participle (+ clause)
Ask your students if they know what the structure is and why we might use it.
I tend to give an example first and follow it up with questions:
If I hadn’t come to English class yesterday, I would have gone to the cinema.
- Did I to English class? Yes.
- Did I go to the cinema? No.
- Are the events in the past, present or future? The past.
- In this conditional, is the past real or unreal? Unreal.
You could leave it at that, but then you’d be tempting the wrathful gods of English grammar. I’d suggest playing a quick oral chain game, or getting them to write examples following the structure. I’m all about speaking, so I play the Worst Scenario game. I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but if not, here’s a brief explanation.
Do this as a whole class or in smaller groups. The whole class version works well if you have fewer than 10 students. More than that and you might find it very slow.
The students make a simple repetative chain based on the previous student’s example, th iea is that they make it interesting by aiming for a “worst possible scenario” here are three:
- If I hadn’t come to English class, I’d have gone shopping.
- If I had gone shopping, I’d have spent all my money.
- If I had spent all my money, I would have had to sell a kidney to pay off my credit card bills.
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