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August 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

Teaching The Second Conditional with an Authentic Text

Saziye Muge Uysal has recently graduated from the Department of Foreign Language Education, Bogazici University. She is currently working as an English teacher in Spain. She was a part-time assistant to Feride Hekimgil at the School of Foreign Languages at Bogazici University. Under the supervision of Feride Hekimgil, she and other assistants provided one on one help for prep school students. They also developed extra material for these students. Any extra material produced was published on a blog set up for the purpose: see, email:


Introduction to lesson plan

This lesson plan is designed for intermediate prep school students. The language focus is second conditional. The theme of the lesson is an animal kingdom. The text is available on BBC Future. By using an authentic text, it is aimed to help students see the context where second conditional sentences are used and provide a meaningful context rather than offering the target structure in isolation.



  1. Reading text: What Would Happen if All Animals were as Smart as us?

by Rachel Nuwer, 25 August 2016

  1. What If All Animals on Earth Were Reasonable?

  1. Quizlet

  1. Optional grammar video

  1. A printout of the reading questions
  2. Life’s family tree


Pre-reading activity

(Brainstorming – 10 minutes)

What If All Animals on Earth Were Reasonable?

The video provides a good summary of the text. After watching the video, the teacher can write the question “What would happen if all animals were as smart as us?” on the board. She or he elicits answers which are also available in the video and writes them in the target structure. The teacher explains that we use second conditional to express imaginary and unreal situations.


Students download the app “Quizlet” on to their phones or tablets. They either open the link or enter the name of the quiz. They match sentence halves to form a complete sentence.

Optional grammar video:

You may want to show this video and discuss it in your class if you think that “Quizlet” will be difficult for them. In that case, you can make the instructions more explicit.


The main activity

(Guided reading activity – 20 minutes)

The teacher hands out the questions and the text. Students skim the text and state the words that they do not know. The teacher writes the words on the board and explains them. Then, students identify what structure is used in the text and how that affects the reading process. Then, they start to answer the questions. They check and discuss their answers in groups. Then, the teacher provides the correct answers.



  1. If other animals woke up as rational and intelligent beings ready to rule, ……….

A.        humans would choose to stay aside to survive.
B.        intelligence would bring about curiosity along with peace.
C.        they would build a better technology to beat humans.
D.        the world would be in trouble because of the power battle.

  1. What is the reason for the above?
  2. Which two factors would have an impact on being a conqueror? (Use your own words.)
  3. If large predators were far more…………………… and had …………...…..., they would be candidates to rule the Earth.
  4. What do bacteria & other microbes and humans have in common in terms of conquering the Earth?
  5. Being more agile and stronger than us would be an advantage for our primate relatives if they………… and ………………
  6. The author feels lucky because ……………………… would make them invincible rivals if bacteria ……………………………
  7. It’s implied in the text that if bacteria and other microbes …………………………., we could exterminate them totally.
  8. Read the last three paragraphs, mark the statements as true (T), false (F) or not given (NG).
  • If other animals developed Homo-Sapiens level intelligence, they would not exploit their power over other species.
  • The intra-species conflict would be resolved if animals were concerned about the well-being of their species.
  • Primitive forms of life are more robust than humans in terms of competing within species.
  • If there wasn’t a balance of power among species, nature would be unstable and in chaos.
  • The only peaceful utopia would be possible under the reign of bacteria, cockroaches and perhaps rats.
  • Apes and chimpanzees, our closest primate relatives, would be as altruistic as the bacteria if they ruled the world.


  1. D
  2. We react negatively and aggressively to strangers and to threats.
  3. Eating habits and habitats would be major factors for the conqueror.
  4. Numerous – modern weapons
  5. Both can quickly adapt to changing environments and circumstances.
  6. hacked into our accumulated knowledge and harnessed it
  7. their ubiquity – developed smarts to rival our own
  8. weren’t essential for our own survival
  9. F, T, NG, T, F, NG


Post-reading activity

(Class discussion – 10 minutes)

Retrieved from

Students check this chart above to see the origins of evolution. They discuss it with a partner by referring to these questions:

• Keep in mind what the text tells us about bacteria and microbes and examine the

chart. What function did they serve in evolution? Why would they be a strong rival for


• If all animals including us were destroyed, would bacteria press reset on evolution?

• Would the evolution sequence change or stay the same?



Students listen to the podcast.

They take notes while they are listening and compare their notes with the transcript on the website. Then, they need to read what is special about Hawaiian crickets.

Their assignment is to write a long paragraph in which they discuss how different things might be today if they the evolution started all over again. They need to include their own sequence of evolution and justify their point with specific examples from Hawaiian crickets.


Optional exercise

If you think that your students need to practice more, you may find a lot more exercises which are either public or exclusive on this website. Depending on the level of your students, you may choose an appropriate worksheet for the last ten minutes of your lesson.


Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the English Language course at Pilgrims website.

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  • Teaching The Second Conditional with an Authentic Text
    Saziye Muge Uysal, Turkey

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