ESL Activities and Games | Advanced conditionals

Relationships | 60 - 90 minutes

This advanced ESL lesson plan is the second of three lessons on the theme of relationships. It contains activities, games and resources for teaching advanced conditionals.

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Use of the board

Step through each of the conditionals, eliciting examples from your students. Confirm that they understand the differences between second, third and mixed, as well as their respective usage.


On one condition

The students will work in pairs to rewrite sentences using mixed conditionals.

Add the following sentences to the board and have the students work in pairs to rewrite them using mixed conditionals.

1. She has fewer job opportunities now because she dropped out of uni.
2. I forgot my phone, so I can't call my boss.
3. He's still living at his mother's because there aren't any apartments left near the University.
4. You didn't listen to the teacher, so you don't know what to do.
5. They're not going to the concert tonight because they didn't buy tickets in time.

When the students are ready, correct them as a group.

1. If she hadn't dropped out of college, she'd have more job opportunities now.
2. If I hadn't forgotten my phone, I'd be able to call my boss.
3. If he'd looked for an apartment sooner, he wouldn't still be living with his mother.
4. If you'd listened to the teacher, you'd know what to do.
5. If they'd bought tickets in time, they'd be going to the concert tonight.

To finish this activity, give the students a few minutes to think of how they would modify each statement to use inversion (replacing 'if' with 'had') and elicit the solutions through a group discussion. For example:

1. Had she not dropped out of college, she'd have plenty of job opportunities.

Advanced conditionals

For this writing activity, the students will work individually to rewrite statements using the conditional structures they learned in this lesson.

Add the following style of prompt to the board and have the students work individually to rewrite them using the language in brackets.

1. You can go to the party, but you must get up early to help me tomorrow. (provided that)
2. Stay off their property, and they won't bother you. (as long as)
3. Even if we did make it to France, where would we work?
4. I'd never have taken gold at the Olympics without your help. (if)
5. If we don't apologise, they'll never invite us to another event. (unless)

When finished, they should compare their answers with a partner. There may be multiple correct answers for each prompt.

Finally, bring the group together to discuss their solutions.

Possible solutions

1. You can go to the party provided that you get up early to help me tomorrow.
2. As long as you stay off their property, they won't bother you.
3. Supposing we did make it to France, where would we work?
4. I'd never have taken gold at the Olympics if you hadn't helped me.
5. They'll never invite us to another event unless we apologise.


The students discuss how the world would be if we changed the rules slightly in this pair-work speaking activity.

Divide the class into pairs and add the following to the board for them to discuss:

How might the world be different if ___ :

1. music didn't exist?
2. you knew you would never die?
3. people couldn't fall in love?
4. Talent
5. we didn't have tongues?
6. robots did everything, and we didn't need to work?

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Stopwatch challenge: Relationship advice

A fun role-play game where students pretend to have relationship problems and offer advice.

Start by dividing the class into teams of two or three. On each turn, one of the students must pretend to have an unusual relationship problem, while their teammates attempt to give them advice. The group must try to have as long a conversation as possible while staying within the context of the task.

You will time the students with a stopwatch while listening for correct uses of the conditional tenses. Stop the clock when a group wanders off-topic, become repetitive or run out of steam. At the end of each round, count up the scores:

Their score will be the amount of time they were able to talk, plus 20 bonus seconds for each conditional form used in the correct context.

Below are some example problems that you can give to the students:

1. Your partner wants to choose the exact clothes you wear every day.
2. You suspect that your partner is an alien from another planet.
3. Your partner has cheated you with every single member of your family.
4. Your partner is relocating to Mars later this year and wants you to go with them.

More C1 ESL lesson plans for advanced students

We hope that you found a few of these ideas useful. If you did, be sure to bookmark our complete list of advanced level ESL lesson plans, as well as our entire collection of ESL courses.

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