Friday, March 18, 2016

Teaching the third conditional

I introduced the third conditional using photos of disasters that happened around the world. I put these photos on the board and asked the learners if they knew where these photos were taken. (The first two were taken after a mining disaster in Turkey; the others are from the Fukushima nuclear explosion and the sinking of the Titanic respectively.)

Almost all of them knew about the disasters. We talked a little bit about what happened. Then, I asked them if they thought it was possible to prevent these tragedies, and they shared their opinions. After that, I shared these news excerpts with them that suggest that they could have been prevented.

I asked the learners to read the excerpts and underline the parts which suggested the idea that it was possible to prevent these disasters. I then asked them to check with a partner and see if they underlined the same parts. 

I asked them to tell me which parts they underlined and I wrote them on the board and underlined the third conditional structure:
If William Murdoch had taken action immediately, he would have saved the Titanic – and 1,496 lives. 
Tepco could have prevented the nuclear accident if it had been prepared enough for the natural disaster.
Then, I asked the following concept check questions:

Are we talking about the past, present or future? (Past)
Did Tepco prevent the nuclear accident? (No)
Did William Murdoch save the Titanic? (No)
Are we talking about something that happened in the past or a possibility in the past? (Possibility - we are speculating about the past.)

To further clarify the meaning, you can rewrite the examples above in the following way:
William Murdoch didn't save the Titanic because he didn't take action immediately.

Tepco couldn't prevent the nuclear accident because it wasn't prepared enough. 
After making sure that the meaning was understood, I focused their attention on the structure:

If-clause       => if + past perfect
Main clause => would/could/might have + past participle

I also pointed out that we use could and might in the main clause when we are less sure about the speculation/possibility.

In the practice part of the lesson, we focused on the Titanic example with this worksheet, which is about how more people could have been saved if certain things had been done differently. (You might want to teach some vocabulary before using this worksheet: drill, distress flares, and funnel.)

The next part of the lesson was a little more fun after all the talk about disasters. I gave the learners photos of famous people from the past and wanted them to imagine what would have happened if these people had had the technology we have today such as social media or an iPhone.

I also gave them the icons or pictures of these websites and devices to help them be more creative. In pairs, the students matched each person with an icon from the pictures and wrote at least three sentences using the pictures.
Example: If Mona Lisa had had an Instagram account, she would have posted a lot selfies. 
At the end of the lesson, they decided who had the most creative idea.