Learning from ads: Conditionals

If you are a regular to our blog, you may have noticed that I use ads quite a lot. I suppose the idea here stems from my time in Korea and Spain where a lot of the language I taught myself came from signs, billboards, ads and basically anything I saw as I walked around the city. I learnt so many chunks and phrases and was then able to manipulate them slightly to express myself. I also saw words and phrases that I’d learnt elsewhere being used in different ways. I really think it is important that students are taught to use this skill of analysing everything that they see around them and so here is yet another in the English is all around you series.

If you’d like to see some of the others, you can find them here:

  1. reported speech
  2. might
  3. text messages
  4. it’s even in the toilet

 

This is a very quick lesson and could probably slip into any larger lesson on conditionals or could be used as a revision.

Level: Pre-intermediate / Intermediate

Objective: By the end of the lesson students will be better able to analyse and manipulate the language around them.

Aims:

  • to examine hypothetical conditionals for the present
  • to encourage language analysis

Material:

Procedure:

As far as procedures go, this one is short and sweet like the lesson. Basically follow the instructions on the worksheet and you’ll be fine.

What I will say is that at the end, I would include a reflection stage where students think about the benefits of analysing the language all around them. Also, I’d encourage them to think about when / where they would use this language.

Follow-ups:

  1. Take the sentences that the students produced in the final activity and examine the pronunciation. (I’d is one of the hardest features of fast speech to hear for learners of English as it is reduced to practically nothing, something being little more than just a schwa).
  2. Students bring in ads from online, papers or around the city and analyse them in class.

Today you might meet a tall dark stranger – Horoscopes for Modals

So as you know, we try, as much as possible, to use found authentic sources here, though sometimes we do write them ourselves.  This is in the former category, as I don’t fancy myself as a mystic meg.

Why horoscopes, well, basically, because one day as I was flicking through the paper I noticed they contained a lot of modals.  I’m not a big horoscope reader, but I’ve found that it is something that some, not all, students enjoy and can get into.

I would obviously recommend using the days horoscopes but have included two example ones taken from the independent to show what I mean.

I use this as a revision exercise of modals, so from Int upwards really.  I always try to get students noticing grammar in the real world.  The vocab is often very challenging but can be really good for working out meaning from context as hopefully I’ve shown in the worksheet.

For this you will either need copies of the days horoscopes or let them use their smartphones to access one, I used the Independent’s ones as they had quite a lot of good language in them and seemed to avoid lots of mentions of phases of the moon and other lexis that isn’t so high frequency.

Procedure:

Introduction

  1. Basic question to introduce topic
  2. Ask students to find their horoscope for the day, what does it predict? (if you have a really large class, you could start off altogether with one persons on the board and use that for the following exercises, before moving to students looking at other horoscopes.

Language analysis

  1. Ask Students to underline the modals in the text, there are normally a few. – see example worksheet
  2. Ask the students to match the modals to their function, are they talking about possibility / advice / prediction, etc.  Monitor and help sort out any problems / confusion.
  3. Synonym hunt, I have scaffolded it here, and as long you are all using the same paper, then you can do the same.  Otherwise, encourage students to write down the words they don’t know, and ask them to predict the meaning by substituting other words in their place.  Again, this will involve you monitoring and again, using one example with a large class may be more beneficial.

Possible extra:

You could, with higher levels, examine the other language that is contained in the examples.  Virgo contains lots of relative clauses, which could be good for Ints / Upp Ints.  Virgo also contains ‘Not only…, but also…’ good for higher levels.   Aries has some lovely ‘passives’ and ‘imperatives’.

Production:

  1. Ask the students to write / and/or record a horoscope, get them thinking about the style that is used and encourage them to use the appropriate modals and other language.
  2. If you have asked them to record it, then you can really work on pronunciation, getting them to think about the way it might be said, the added pauses to increase tension etc

Follow on:

  1. Ask the students to find a horoscope as homework and to underline the modals as they have done in class.  Also ask them to try to predict any unknown lexis.  Just to give them some extra noticing and vocab from context practice.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t see this as being a lesson for everyone, I predict some classes will like it while others won’t, which is ok.  You know your class, try it out on the classes it might work with.

I’m going back to my runes and crystal ball.