Posted in Conversation Classes, Grammar Classes, Pronunciation Classes

Parallel Universe: 3rd Conditional Conversation Practice



This is a class for higher levels (B2+) to help students feel more comfortable and stumble less over complex past conditionals.

Here is a link to the printable handout:!313&authkey=!ADsjHXyBVtx-H1Y

As the title suggests the focus is on using the conditionals in conversation so start out by telling the class that you don’t want them to write anything down except the bare conditional structure for reference.

Tell them they are going to explore parallel universes in which they made different choices in their lives.

The exercise presents the students with different topics designed to generate past conditional sentences but also conversation. Explain that you don’t just want them to form 1 past conditional sentence from each point, they should explore each point fully in small groups and try to use the structure in a variety of ways: affirmative /negative / interrogative.


“If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend because she was only in town for one night.”

“Do you think you would have had the chance to meet her again?”

“It’s possible, but maybe I would have met someone else.”

Note on pronunciation

For higher levels depending on how well they use the structure you can encourage them to use the weak forms:

Woulda / would’ve / wouldn’t ‘ve

If they have trouble with this start out with the contracted “had” in the if clause and slowly introduce the other forms.

 Establishing grammar

If I hadn’t gone to the party, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend. (past result)

Maybe we wouldn’t be together now. (present result)

If I hadn’t studied drama, I probably would have studied literature.

If I had studied business, I would have got a job in an insurance company

I could have

Explain difference between would have and could have

would have = what definitely happened in this parallel universe

could have = what possibilities were available in the parallel universe

If + had/n’t + past participle + would / could + have + past participle.

Conversation Questions

What did you study at school / university? What other options did you have? Explain them to your group.

Do you remember the interview for your job? What would have happened if you hadn’t got it?

If you have a partner how did you meet? How could things have happened differently?

Think of an important exam you passed or failed in the past, how could things have happened differently?

What would you have done this week if you’d had more time? Why?

What would you have done last year if you’d had more money?

Think of a time when someone helped you with something, what would you have done without their help?

Think of a time when you helped someone, what would they have done without your help?

Think of a time when you had an accident, how could things have happened differently?

Think of a time when you or someone you know was in danger, how could things have happened differently?

Think of big decisions you have made in your life related to work / studying / family, how could things have happened differently? How could things be different now?

Posted in Pronunciation Classes

Pronunciation: Regular verbs in past simple


This is a handout listing the three pronunciation types of regular verbs:!265&authkey=!AI73yyOE0jOwaD4

First go through the three different types.

Tell students to put one hand on their throat and talk so that they can feel their vocal cords vibrating. Then tell the students to start saying some of the regular verbs from the list in their BASE FORM for example: watch, arrive.

Ask them to keep saying “watch” and “arrive” and think about the difference in vocal cord vibrations between the two.

If they don’t notice it explain to them that “watch” finishes with a voiceless sound (no vocal cords, just sound made with the mouth) verbs that finish with a voiceless sound (the handout lists the different spellings of these verbs) have a particular pronunciation in the past simple; a “t” sound: watched (watcht)

“arrive” however, ends in a voiced sound (using the vocal cords to make the “v” sound) so it’s pronunciation is different; a “d” sound: arrived

The difference between these two sounds can be difficult for students and needs a lot of practice. Especially in Spain it can take an eternity to iron out the “Edd” sound caused by Spanish speakers reading English phonetically, as they do their own language. Yesterday I play-ED football and watch-ED TV. So it takes frequent practice. Take special care to practice the pronunciation in a complete sentence on not focus on individual words; students can say “watcht watcht watcht watcht watcht, yesterday I watch-ED TV.”

The last group is easier to grasp; words ending in “d” or “t” have the sound “id” in the past simple: needed (need-ID). Though you are guaranteed to have a classroom full of students clutching their throats saying “wait, need, want” trying to work out if it should be a “t” or a “d” sound so it’s better to put them out of their misery early, maybe it’s better to explain the 3rd group first.