ESL Conditionals: Exercises & Games

Instructor: Elizabeth Hemmons

Beth has taught early childhood education, including students with special needs, for the past 11 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

Teaching ESL students conditionals can be fun and inspire creativity. Using these simple games and activities can help your students use conditionals throughout their daily language.

Teaching ESL Students Conditionals

'If it rains today, we won't have our picnic.' 'If I won the lottery, I would buy a new car.' These are examples of conditionals. They are also called 'if clauses.' There are a few different types of conditionals in the English language, and they can get a little confusing for ESL students. This is because some of them are used in the present tense and some are used in past tense. Conditionals explain the result of something that may or may not happen or something that might have happened but didn't. Conditional activities and exercises can be fun because you can be creative. It also helps to work on cause and effect skills.

Matching First Conditionals

First conditionals are an example of a conditional that most likely will happen. For example, 'If you add salt to food, it will taste saltier.' In this matching game, create 5-10 examples of first conditionals and put the first half of the conditional on one card and the second half on another card. Mix the cards up. The object of the game is to put the conditionals together so that they make sense.

Create a Conditional Chain

Ask your students to create a large circle. The object of this game is to keep the chain going by using different examples of conditionals. Begin the game by providing an example of a conditional. For example, 'If I don't come to school everyday, I won't learn anything new.' The student next to me will then use the second part of my conditional to begin a new one. For example, 'If I don't learn anything new, then I won't be able to get a job.' Continue the conditional chain around the circle and try to keep it going. This game is a great example of cause and effect.

Pass the Bean Bag

This activity requires some creativity. Ask your students to sit in a circle. Begin holding a bean bag and giving an example of the first part of a conditional, then pass the bean bag to another student of your choice. The student that you selected will have to finish the conditional. For example, 'If you go to bed with your socks on. . .' (pass the bean bag) 'You will wake up with warm feet.' This activity can be used with any type of conditional. This activity will make your class laugh and have fun.

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