You’ve probably noticed something about the conditionals worksheets that you find online or the conditionals exercises you see in most textbooks: boring. Even when an attempt has been made to make them interesting, it’s the same attempt. It’s like everyone got together to use the same sentences. What would you do if you won a million dollars? *sigh* This might be exciting for someone teaching kids, but you teach adults, and they are a bit more jaded than kids. Let’s talk about how to make a worksheet that adults will enjoy filling out.
Here’s how you make them FUN!
1. Focus on one conditional per worksheet at a time.
Creating and then maintaining those creative juices can overwhelm a student when they have to focus a lot on using the correct structure for any given conditional. Keep your conditionals worksheets focused on just one conditional so your adult ESL students can spend more brain time using their imaginations and a broader range of vocabulary.
2. Make some unexpected examples.
The goal here is to make them unable to suppress laughter or sounds of disgust. You want a reaction out of them, and you want it audible. If everyone is working in complete silence, they won’t be contributing to the energy in the room. Here’s an example I used on a first conditional worksheet where students have a sentence to work from when developing their own sentence that involved a warning or a threat:
Someone will lock you in the bathroom. If someone locks me in the bathroom, I vow that I will seek revenge.
A little over the top? Absolutely. But, that is what makes them more fun!
Here’s another, this time on a second conditional worksheet where students had to complete main clauses to go with given if-clauses. If horses had wings, airline tickets would be cheaper.
3. Set them up with outrageous sentences to complete on your conditionals worksheets.
If the sentence they must complete is already nutty, they are more likely to come up with something funny. Here are a couple of examples from my third conditional worksheets:
- If I had dropped my phone in the toilet, ___________________.
- If dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct, ____________.
Naturally, you won’t want every sentence to be like that. Just throw some in along with the more expected types.
4. Set the stage for their sentences.
On a second conditional worksheet where they had to use conditionals to give advice, I gave them one-sentence situations that sometimes prompted whispered discussions with adjacent classmates. I loved how they would share their advice with each other, unprompted, and using the second conditional! You can give them ones they might take seriously such as My classmates laugh at my accent. Sometimes there would be some real heart-to-heart conversations based on that. On the other hand, My home is infested with cockroaches, inspired wild methods for exterminating the pests as well as some tips and pointers for how to get a proper response from a landlord.
5. Make it personal, and those conditionals worksheets will grab their attention.
Use what you know personally about your students to create your conditionals worksheets. Of course, you don’t want to use anything that is private. Only use what you are 100% sure will not embarrass or offend someone. You can also include information about current events, local happenings, or even personal information about yourself. That I am a truly awful singer is public knowledge (among my students anyway, and now, I guess the internet), so my students took a deep dive into snark when they had to complete the sentence, “If Rike ever auditions for American Idol, _______.”
6. Award prizes or certificates for sentences created on your conditionals worksheets.
I sometimes wrote prize categories on the board to inspire them to create certain types of sentences. Most Ridiculous. The Biggest Ewww. Most Sci-Fi Infused. Just Wow. The prizes themselves don’t have to be big or expensive, and the certificates don’t have to be super fancy. Just be over the top in the presentation. ^_^
Don’t be basic!
Avoid “If you won a million dollars” and tie in some information that is connected to your students when making your conditionals worksheets and you’ll have more engaged students who might even tell someone that your grammar class was fun!
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Pre-Made Conditionals Goodies
What if you didn’t have to spend your time re-inventing the wheel? Maybe you’d like to do something else with your time. Even if grammar is your thing, sometimes it’s a relief to have the resources already made.