What If…?

Posted: October 5, 2012 in Video Lessons

This post is the first in a series of video-based activities you will find in Pronunciation Central over the next few months for giving learners speaking practice.

This activity uses a clip from the Walt Disney cartoon – Sleeping Beauty– to give learners practice of language of speculation.  Although it can be used with learners at all levels of proficiency, it works better with higher level learners. In terms of materials, all you need for it is the clip below, some dice, strips of paper and the board.

On the board, write the following question stem: What would have happened if…?

Give the learners slips of paper and tell them that they are going to watch the clip and write questions to speculate about the content of the clip, using the question stem above.

Do one example with the class. One possible question could be: What would have happened if Sleeping Beauty hadn’t woken up from her spell?

After that, tell the learners to work in small groups of 3 or 4 and compare their questions. If there are multiple questions that are similar or the same, the learners should choose one of them to keep. Get the groups to put their questions together into a pile and place it face-down on their desk (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

On the board, write the following:

1,3,5,7 … = a negative turn of events

2,4,6,8 … = a positive turn of events

Give each group some dice. Tell the students in each group to sort themselves into A, B, C and D (see Figure 1).

TIP: I usually give each group of learners two sets of dice. I find that if I have tactile learners in my class that they really enjoy manipulating multiple dice in their hands.

Then, give the students the following instructions:

  1. Learner A turns over the first question on the pile and then throws the dice.
  2. If the number displayed on the face of the dice is even e.g. 2, this learner then suggests a possible positive turn of events in answer to the question. For example, imagine the question was What would have happened if the hero had lost his sword during the battle with the dragon?  A possible positive scenario could be It wouldn’t have been a problem. The hero would have made a spear out of a thick tree branch to stab the dragon on the neck.
  3. Learner B has a turn by throwing the dice and continuing with the speculations. In this case, however, if the number on the dice is odd, this learner needs to suggest a negative scenario such as Without his sword, the hero would have probably got burnt on the arm.
  4. The steps above continue until learner D has had a turn and the cycle is repeated.
  5. At the end, the learners discuss which scenarios were the most and the least creative.

As a follow-up, get the learners to think of a particular event in their lives which they would be happy to share with other people in class. This event could be a simple daily event such as missing the bus to school or winning some money on a scratch card.

In pairs or groups, the learners talk about their personal events and say what they think would have happened if the events had taken a different turn, either for better or worse.

For instance:

S1: I missed my bus to school this morning and was really late for class. If I had got out of bed earlier, I would have been earlier for my bus and would have got to school on time for the revision of the third conditinal I had been looking forward to for a while. I would certainly have been much happier.

S2:  Last week, I won $250 on a scratch card. If I hadn’t bought the card, I wouldn’t have won this money and wouldn’t have been able to go on a trip to Noosa for the weekend. I had a great time there.

Alternatively, you could get the learners to write a different version of the scene, using some of the ideas suggested in the activity above.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s