In tutoring recently, a high-intermediate grammar student complained that she couldn’t get her verb forms right when creating sentences using conditionals. Upon looking at her work, I saw that she had been trying to follow grammar rules without regard to context and was extremely frustrated with her mixed up results.
Initially she asked me to explain the grammar so she could match the right verb tense to the rule. However, I convinced her to practice making original sentences within a context. We practiced one aspect in a specific context each day, and she made a list of example sentences to study and to “store” the rule.
Ultimately, the student was able to raise her test scores, but more than that, she started using the pattern to talk about her life. This is not new news, but sometimes I forget that students can have trouble with the meta-cognitive issues.
The three downloadable worksheets below contain contexts for real conditionals that can be used for post-lesson pair work or for writing. It is important to tell students that in this practice, if they want to acquire the target language, they must seek to use it in their production.
Once students produce the language, the teacher can give feedback on accuracy.