Date: 06.03.2013

Form 8 Grammar  - Conditionals, Reflection 3

Language aim – Conditional clauses, introduction of a mixed conditional clause

Thinking aim – Stage 2 of the TTF; building the tool – the model for Conditionals.

Before the lesson

During the previous lesson (which was two weeks ago, as last Wednesday they wrote a test) the students started to make a draft model for conditionals, using two parameters Time and Factuality/probability. Students finished the task at a different stage, some did more, some did less, some understood more, some understood less. So one of my aims for the coming lesson was to stop and reflect what they remember, understand. I usually do this through their questions.

Another thing which I wanted to deal with was an example of a mixed conditional they had in their home exercise to introduce the idea that parts of conditionals can refer to different time, thus having a new, unfamiliar for them verb structure. On the other hand it might be helpful to learn the structures in a more flexible way, not these rigid 0, 1,2, 3 conditionals; though this introduction might be too early, as they still have a very vague idea about  the time of the action in conditionals; and I am afraid about factuality as well .

Here are the 4 sentences for their home task.

1.  "I am a chemist.  If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you.  Being only a chemist hampers me."

2. If Harris's eyes fill with tears, you can bet it is because Harris has been eating raw onions, or has put too much Worcester over his chop.

3.  If Peter was a more skillful player, he would have scored more points in that match.

4. I believe that if you met Harris up in Paradise (supposing such a thing likely), he would immediately greet you with: "So glad you've come, old fellow; I've found a nice place round the corner here, where you can get some really first-class nectar."

During the lesson.   

Students: I. Reflecting on the previous lesson and their home task. The reflection is in the form of questions. 

Here come their questions.

1. In which part of the sentence do I have to search time?

2. In which part of the sentence do I have to search factuality? ( I did it according to the first part) 3. If in the sentences isn’t “if’ is it a conditional? What can be instead of “If”?

4. how to measure factuality             -can be; can’t be             -%  /   <50%>             -Low, middle, high 5. How many forms of conditionals are there? 6. Can be the same verb forms in two parts of conditional? 7. What verb forms can be in conditionals? (other than we already have?) 8. Does MV depend on conditional verb form? 9. How can we group conditionals to make a model more general/smaller and more clear? 10. How to make values precise?

My comment to the above:  Reflection on what we do or have done is a part of TTF and there can be different ways how to do it. At the moment I use this way of reflection - putting questions and using them for identifying the aims for the lessons and the way of dealing with the theme. My question here is what other forms of reflection would be appropriate here.

According to their questions and having my aim in mind, I chose to work with questions 1, 2, and 4.

Speaking about question 3, oops, it was my fault, there was a mistake in the task and there wasn’t any conditional in one of the sentences. But it was good they had noticed that.    

Before working with their questions I again put mine about the parameters for Conditionals to make sure they remember and are aware ( especially those who still haven’t  understood this)  of the meaning of the parameters ( Time  and Probability)

- What parameters should we speak when we describe Conditionals? Why exactly these?

Their answers: - Time – because we speak about actions - Probability because – ‘if ‘ is probability

II. So, we started working with their questions

Q1 - If we speak about the time of the conditionals what part of the conditional do we speak?

During the discussion there were variants -  in the first part, in the second part. Here I draw their attention to the fact that we might be interpreting “first/second” part differently and invited them to come to unanimous terms for these parts, so we agreed to have  ‘if-part” ( some pupils keep  to ‘reason’, though I don’t think it is a good variant) and “not –if part/without  ‘if’ part ( others correspondingly keep to ‘result’ part). Terms are not perfect, but we at least understand each other better, but we have to come to more comprehensive terms later.

In my understanding we don’t look at the parts but at the context, that was the ideas I wanted to bring them to, and another important for me thing was to help them understand that both parts refer to the same time.

So we turned to the examples from the home exercise – sentences 1, 2, 4. After a discussion we came to the conclusion I wanted, I tried hard not to interfere much, but I might have, though.  So we agreed that for time identification we analyse the whole context not just parts of the ‘if’-sentence and that the time reference in both parts is the same.   

What was still difficult for them to understand was why time reference was general or future but the form past. Here I used comparison with Russian, which I usually don’t do, but I didn’t know how to show this better.  In Russian we have a  similar shift of verb structures.


Then we came to the example of a mixed conditional – sentence 3 in the home exercise.

Conclusions after discussion.

1. There can be situations when the parts can have different time reference.

My question  what happens with ‘times’?-

- They are mixed ( the students gave the Russian term and I translated it) so these conditionals are called Mixed conditionals

My question – What is the difference between an ordinary Conditional sentence and a Mixed Conditional sentence? - in ordinary both parts are about one time reference but in mixed about different.

 My after lesson comment:  I am not sure that all students have understood that, so a task for me is to control the process to ensure that everybody understands.

Q2 - In which part of the sentence do I have to search factuality?

As I think the question is about finding factuality of the ‘if’ part of the sentence or ‘not if’ part of the sentence. We spoke about this at the previous lesson, but as I supposed they didn’t remember this, so we had to discuss it again. I gave them a couple of very simple examples like “If the weather is good tomorrow, I will go for a walk”; “ If I were at home now I would be very happy”. We discussed and agreed that we focus and analyse factuality or degree of probability of the ‘if part’.

My comment: I am not sure that at this stage all of them have understood this, But this is ok, they will understand it with further work, probably. Or would it be better to stop and do more practice here to make sure everybody has understood? 

Q3 How to measure factuality ?  This question appeared last lesson and appeared again, so I just asked their ideas about possible ways of measuring.

Here are their answers: a. can be; can’t be b. %  /   <50%> c. Low, middle, high d. …?

I didn’t discuss this much, just decided to give them an opportunity to use any and to find the most appropriate for them form.

3.  After the discussion the students turned to their models and worked with it, adding and checking, using their banks and samples from the home exercise being discussed.

My comment:  here I noticed that the students have problems with the bank. It happened that I  hadn’t properly checked their bank and especially the sorting of the bank, many children stopped half way and drop the sorting unfinished and now when you need to use it to identify the values of the parameters the banks are not properly organised and completed – so, again, I was in a hurry skipping some important parts of working with bank and now it doesn’t help as good as they should be. So, the bank should be an instrument for collecting forms, an instrument for finding features, an instrument for checking the model. And to fulfil each function the teacher should work with it at every stage/level/ function. And the skill of using the bank as an instrument for a continuous work should be developed, and the students should be aware of that instrument ( students’ awareness).

4. During the last part of the lesson I gave the students one more exercise with samples of sentences with conditionals to check their models. We managed to do and check only 2 sentences before the bell, and the answers were in most cases correct.

Student  1  still asked

Why in the 2 sentences I have similar Time and Factuality but the forms are different?

Other students answered in sentence 2 factuality is low, in first high, so the forms are different.

My comment: This question again showed that Student 1 (by the way a good one) still can’t identify the factuality, which means that I again did something too quick and didn’t give enough time and practice for students.

By the end of the lesson I understood that the students have the following problems to work on:

1. We have to work  with their banks to add sentences to the sorted bank, to have more context to check the models 2. We have to work with the structures and to systematize them, as now the students have a mess in their heads, I think . 3. We have to work with the idea of Factuality/ probability.

So, this is a plan for my next lesson or lessons. Smile 



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