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"What if..." - Visualisation of focus on form to introduce if-clauses type 3

Uploaded by Sanderin van Hazebrouck, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg (Germany)


This lesson for intermediate learners of English focused on the introduction of if-clauses type 3.

The lesson begins with an advertisement poster of the movie Christmas Carol, which is projected onto the whiteboard. The teacher explains what a Christmas carol is before she has the learners describe the picture. Then, she shows the movie trailer. As a while-viewing task, the learners are asked to find out who wrote the book. Next, the teacher gives a summary of the story before she transitions to Kate Winslet and her song “What If”, which is important for the grammar topic of the lesson and is the main song of the movie. The learners listen and see the video of the song. As a while-listening task for the song the learners are asked to “find out which question the singer asks herself”. The answer of the learners is displayed: "What if I had never let you go, would you be the man I used to know?" She then continues with “If I’d stayed, If you’d tried, if we could only turn back time” to make the learners aware of the past participle form “had”. The teacher then asks learners which type of if-clause this is to make learners aware that it is a new language feature. On the next flipchart, she explains in German and English that this is the type 3 and that the incident is in the past and thus, it can never come true. After the meaning and the use of the form are explained, the grammatical structure is analyzed.


Target language: English

Resource language: German

Native language of learners: German

Age range: 14+

Language level: B2 - Upper Intermediate

Educational context: Secondary Education

IWB Features: Content marking, Writing/pen tool (inc. handwriting recognition)

Teaching methods: Whole class instruction

Language area: Grammar, Strategies

IWB board used: Promethean

Teacher comment

The title of the song is "What If" and this was the link to the grammar. What would have happened if she had done this and this. I think it is more motivating to see a singer, who interprets a situation in which she tries to imagine what could have been in the past. I think everybody knows the situation that we think about "If I had done this, I would have done this and this." To keep it in mind and to have an emotional link to the topic I think it is very helpful to work with songs. And then, you can focus on the grammatical aspects so that they understand that it makes sense to understand the grammatical aspect for the whole song to get the message of the song. I think that worked very well. Next day, they started to sing it when I came into the classroom. That was interesting. And they used the correct forms and I liked it a lot because this was my target for choosing it so that they have an emotional context to the grammatical aspect. And here we can see the text from the song and we looked at structures from the song. We found out when you use it, why you use it, why you use the past perfect form and the if-clause. This was so clear for them. They could visualize better with the flipchart. I think it was no problem for them to follow.

We focus on special sentences from the song and demonstrate by marking on the board what is important. And this was, I think, done very quickly.
And there were no questions to ask because they understood right from the beginning what it was going about. What I like about the whiteboard is that you can have the text visualized and add information and annotations. I can do it, the learners could do it, could have done it, but I did it because it was clear enough and I was not forced to bring them to the board. In other lessons, I do bring them to the board. But at that time of the lesson it was not necessary.

We found out if-clauses, yes, this was the process. We found out that we know more if-clauses and we know type one and two already. It made sense that this is type three. They had the structure and found out how it is formed and then we visualized it on the board. After that the learners had to try out if they could use the rule. To make sure that they really understood it, I gave them the chance to see it in German, but then I asked them for the rule in German. I decided to make this flipchart black and only show in yellow what the rule is, the English rule, to make sure they understood. This is what remained on the flipchart - the English rule - and repeating the rule was no problem for them after that.

Learner comments

Schüler 4: Ja, also ich denke schon, dass es mir geholfen hat, weil es alles ziemlich anschaulich war. Dann kann man es sich besser merken. Wir haben auch viele Übungen dazu gemacht und deswegen denke ich schon, dass man sich das jetzt gut merken kann.

I think it helped me because the IWB helps you visualize things better. I can remember things better. We did a lot of exercises and I think this helps to remember.

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