Teaching the Third Conditional – A lesson idea

GUEST POST BY WOLFGANG, DAVID & CHRISTINA (My trainee-teacher students).

If you like this lesson idea, please leave a comment, share, or ‘like’ the post using the buttons below! You can help Christina, David & Wolfgang win a prize 🙂


CONTEXT: World Cup 2014



Show the picture and ask learners to brainstorm what they know about the World Cup – vocabulary, facts, etc.


(Picture from: http://www.tz.de/bilder/2014/07/14/3699751/105107516-siegerehrung-deutsche-nationalmannschaft-5dR7pg5zef.jpg )


Write the following sentence (which will probably refer to one of the facts they have brainstormed!) on the board, using the colour coding:

If Germany had lost the final, Argentina would have won the World Cup.

Ask concept check questions for clarification: When was the final of the World Cup? Who played? Who won? Can it be changed now?

Ask learners to identify verb forms that they recognise (e.g. past perfect, past participles). Then write the grammatical structure of the sentence on the board as well – using the same colour coding as above:

If +         past perfect         ,                   would have + past participle

And show how the answers to the concept check questions highlight the function of the grammatical form:

  • Past situations
  • Not possible anymore, can no longer be changed


Use the following fill-in-the-blanks exercise as controlled practice. (Add colour coding for extra help for the learners, if required)

  1. If Neymar_____________ (not injured), he__________________            (play) in the semi-finals.
  2. If the temperatures in Brazil________________ (not that high), the players___________________ (have more energy).
  3. There_________________(be) a big party in Rio, if Brazil_____________(win) the final.
  4. If Mario Götze_________________(not be sent) onto the pitch, he __________________(not score) the winning goal.

As a productive task, give the following instructions (this can be done in class orally or as homework in writing).

Imagine you had been a player on the German team, what would you have done to help Germany win the World Cup? (Write at least five sentences using the new grammar form. (You can use the examples in the box for help)

Result clause


–          Run faster-          Defend

–          Score more goals

–          Train longer

–          …

–          Play against Brazil-         Be sent onto the pitch in the second half

–          …


7 thoughts on “Teaching the Third Conditional – A lesson idea

  1. great connection with current events! If I were one of your pupils, I would have enjoyed the lesson! (just hoping that all of the other pupils like football, too)


  2. The connection with the actual event makes the use of the conditional real-life rather than something abstract in a textbook. Maybe a little short. Really liked and enjoyd it!


  3. An excellent productive task: the two columns ‘Result’ and ‘If-clause’ make the structure clear. You might add an Activate homework task inviting the learners to express their personal wishes and regrets. Although the content for the lesson was highly topical, some events – and inventions – can quickly date, so it would be worth visiting material from time to time to ensure its currency.


  4. A very good and student oriented, up to date lesson. Students can do most of the talking, lesson plan is easy to follow and meets didactic demands. Very good, lesson shows high level of proficiency concerning lesson planning.


  5. This already well-planned and enjoyable lesson could/should be improved by including a listening task making use of native-speaker material. Still loike it very much!


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