Teaching Second Conditional – A Lesson Idea

GUEST POST BY NINA, ANNA, FREDERIKE & JENS (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 Jens, Frederike, Anna and Nina win a prize 🙂

Context SettingImage of man with money

Use a picture to introduce the topic of the lesson, for example “Winning the lottery”. Learners describe the picture and try to guess reasons why the man has so much money.
(Teacher-student talk, OHP, 5 mins)


Presentation Phase

Students are given the text “Winning the lottery” to read, make sure they understand the text (vocabulary, content).

Here’s a downloadable version of the text: WINNING THE LOTTERY

Winning the Lottery
Most people, if they are asked, say they would love to win a fortune, on the Lottery for example. But I’m not so sure that lottery winners are really to be envied.
What would you do, if you won a really big sum on the Lottery – five million euros, say? Would you give up your job? Probably you would, after all, you wouldn’t need the money any more. But then what would you do? And how would you explain the fact that you no longer needed to work to your friends? It probably wouldn’t take them long to guess the truth, and people would soon start phoning you up and sending you begging letters. The only solution would be to change your life completely – go away to a new town, or even a new country. And if you didn’t have to worry about money, you’d probably start worrying about other things –your health or the faithfulness of your partner. No, on the whole I don’t think I really want to win the Lottery. So why do I continue to buy a ticket every week?

Once they have finished reading, ask students to underline all the sentences that include “if” – this makes them notice the new grammar structure. Then ask what they would do if they won the lottery, collect answers on a transparency, (even if they include grammatical mistakes)

Work out formation with the students, the first part (condition clause) with simple past should be less of a problem, but the“would”-problem has to be pointed out. At the end of this stage, write the following notes on the board for everyone to copy:

(Teacher-student talk, OHP/ Board, 40 mins)


Unlikely Situation

Imaginary Result
If + simple past would(n’t) + verb
If I won the lottery, /  If you did not have to worry about money,   I would buy a new car for myself. /  you would start worrying about other things.


Functions of second conditional: used to talk about situations or actions in the present or future which are not likely to happen or are imaginary or hypothetical  – but still theoretically possible (like winning the lottery).

Controlled Practice Phase

Gap-filling text (Individual Work, Worksheet, 15 mins). Remind learners to use the structure you have just discussed when they fill in the blanks in the text! Here’s a downloadable version of the gap text: Gap Text 2nd Conditional

Did you hear about that guy who won 180 million dollars in the lottery? If I _________________ (win) that much money, I _________________ (quit) my job the next day. I _________________ (travel) around the world and _________________ (stay) in the most luxurious hotels. If I _________________ (want) anything, I _________________ (buy) it. If I _________________ (see) a beautiful Mercedes that I wanted, I _________________ (buy) it. If I wanted to stay in a beautiful hotel and the hotel _________________ (be) full, I _________________ (buy) the hotel and make them give me a room. I _________________ (can) do anything in the world if I _________________ (have) 180 million dollars… Oh, I am starting to sound a little materialistic.,. Well… I _________________ (do) good things with the money as well. If anybody _________________ (need) help, I _________________ (give) them some money to help them out. I _________________ (donate) money to charities. I _________________ (give) money to help support the arts. If I _________________ (won) that much money, I _________________ (not keep) it all for myself. I _________________ (help) as many people as possible.

Productive Task

Learners prepare to survey their classmates: They are asked to develop questions for their classmates, based on the structure
“What would you do, if…”

When they have their questions ready (you can set a certain number, based on learners’ ability and class time), they ask their classmates and write down all of the answers. (Student talk time, Worksheet,  30 mins)

As homework, learners can prepare to present their findings to the class in the next lesson.

8 thoughts on “Teaching Second Conditional – A Lesson Idea

  1. Very good lesson that meets didactic standards. New grammar point is put into context, not only teaching grammar for its own sake.


  2. An interesting lesson with a variety of different tasks. The production task – involving student interaction is a nice way to finish the lesson. Like it.


  3. Really like this, because it’s easy to relate to and will remain a case for the second conditional for most people. Well done!


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