Public Service Anouncement: Spring Forward. Maybe

time.jpgLiving in a foreign country, you may be slow to realize that today is the day when many countries set their clocks forward one hour. Do this now with yours, and don’t forget to change your alarm clock. Still, if you teach in the morning, you may well get a few late students or no-shows…if you have a one to one lesson, bring some reading material.

UPDATE: Go ahead and check on the World Time Server to see if your host country moves the clock forward or not before doing anything rash!

I say, take this real world event and use it to practice conditionals! “If it was 6:30, I’d be sleeping, but it’s 7:30, so I’m here with you in class.” But you’re in for a pretty boring lesson if you limit yourself to hypothesizing about an hour ago. Give your students a variety of times, including past years and other months or days of the week, and better yet give them famous people as their new secret identities. They have to make ups a few sentences and their partner has to guess who they are.

If it was 1984, I’d be singing on stage wearing fishnet tights and gloves with the fingers cut off. (This could be anyone!)

If it was 1992, I’d have brown hair.

If it was 2000, I’d be getting married to Guy Ritchie.

If it was October 2006, I’d be adopting a child form Malawi.

Who am I?

That’s right, I’m Madonna.

As I write this, it strikes me that these uses of the second conditional are a bit unusual. There’s no reason we wouldn’t just say “In 1992 I had brown hair” and such – this is a contrived activity to practice conditionals. And if your students don’t have a good sense of the meaning behind the various conditionals – here, hypothetical situations – this may be confusing, so certainly don’t try to teach any conditionals with these examples . But wait, these aren’t hypothetical – Madonna did have brown hair in 1992! The hypothetical part is in the first clause: it’s not 1992. It may make sense with a parenthetical addition at the end: If it was 1992, I’d have brown hair (but it’s not 1992).