In a sleepy little Oregon town, a kid is being beaten up by the school bully. When he confesses to his big brother that he is being bullied, his big brother invents a plan which will end up with big humiliation for the school bully, George.

They all plan a boating trip and invite the school bully along. The boy being bullied, Sam, realised that George is actually OK and just craves some love and attention in his life, but by then it's too late and things start to go horribly wrong.

Mean Creek is an excellent film and won the 2004 Best Film Award at The Cannes Film Festival. At that time I was teaching the Second Conditional to older teenage students and realised that there were so many moments during the film when I thought "What would I do here?" I wrote this lesson on the Second Conditional and it worked well. You can download this movie lesson on the Second Conditional below.

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Grammar Guide for Second Conditional Tense

The second conditional is used for talking about unreal situations in the present or in the future. The second conditional is built up of two parts, known as a clause. One part, or clause, contains if, and the other part contains would.
"If I had lots of money, I would buy a car..."
You can also switch the clauses; it doesn’t matter, because it means the same thing! It’s just a different way of saying it! Have a try!
"I would buy a car if I had lots of money."
Look carefully! Notice how there is a comma (,) after the if clause at the top, but not at the bottom? When the if clause goes first, you must use a comma. When the main clause goes first, don’t use a comma…easy!

Before Doing This Class
Before you do anything, please watch the film at home in its entirety before making a choice whether to show this in class. It is not suitable for all and should only be used with mature, open-minded students.
Before you start the film, make sure that your class understand the second conditional and its purpose. This plan is designed to review the structure and to get your actually using it in an interesting way. The student guide on page three of this plan will help to explain it in a simple way.

Using Mean Creek to Practice Second Conditional
Get your students comfortable…its movie time! Play the selected clips. As you play the film, you will suddenly stop the film and ask students what they would do in that situation. All the ‘film stop’ timings are labelled below, along with the questions you should ask your students. There are 23 ‘what would you do?’ questions in total. Make sure to give every one a go!
Practice stopping the DVD in the suggested parts before class.

The 23 Second Condional Questions You Can Ask Your Class

1.   You have just been beaten up in front of lots of people. What would you do? 2:38mins
(Example answer: "if I had been beaten up in front of lots of people, I would hit him back).
2.   Marty, the gang leader, offers you a marijuana joint. What would you do? 9:09mins
3.   Your brother has just hurt and humiliated you. You have a bat. What would you do? 13:57mins
4.   George, who beat you up earlier in the week, has bought you a present and wants you to open it. What would you do? 18:13mins
5. There is a plan to make George cry. You have just heard about it. What would you do? 25:27mins
6. You are new to the gang and want to make friends. You don’t smoke, but Marty offers you a cigarette. What would you do? 26:46mins
7. You are 13 years old and Marty offers you a beer. Your parents aren’t there. What would you do? 32:40mins
8. You are already drinking beer, but your parents will never know. Marty offers you weed. What would you do? 33:07mins
9. You are trying to talk Marty out of getting George. What would you do? 36:52mins
10. George has just fired the water gun at you. What would you do? 40:00mins
11. You are 13 years old and in front of lots of older kids and they have dared you to French kiss. What would you do? 42:00mins
12. Marty wants George to take off his clothes and jump in the river. You don’t want this to happen, but Marty is bigger than you. What would you do? 45:20mins
13.  You are George. You have just found out that you were only invited because they want to play a joke on you. What would you do? 45:53mins
14. You are Marty. George is talking about your father’s suicide over and over and over. What would you do? 48:52mins
15. George is drowning, but his size makes it dangerous to jump in and save him. What would you do? 49:33mins
16. George is not breathing. What would you do? 51:29mins
17. People are now starting to make a story to tell the police. What would you do? 58:16mins
18. Marty wants to bury the body. What would you do? 59:08mins
19. You are Marty, everyone is against you. What would you do? 1:00:24mins
20. The others have agreed to bury the body, but you think it is a bad idea. What would you do? 1:03:11mins
21. You are Marty. The others want to go to the police, but you have already buried the body. What would you do? 1:17:06mins
22. You are Rocky. Your best friend, Marty, is walking away. What would you do? 1:18:58mins
23. You are the policeman. What would you do? 1:22:55mins
Lesson Written by Stuart Allen
Published in Movie lessons

"If I Could Turn Back Time...I Would...."

The Second Conditional Tense, sometimes rightly called the Hypothetical Conditional, is used in English to talk about situations which imagine an unreal different situation happening right now. The Second Conditional can also be used to talk about how we wish something was now if the past could be different.

In this song, If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher sings about how things would be different now if she had treated her boyfriend better in the past. How actions in the past have affected the present now and how she would have changed what she did in the past given the chance. This is a good song to use when teaching the second conditional using could.


 This free ESL song lesson using the Second Conditional includes a nice board game which you can print out to either A4 or A3. Students are put into pairs or small groups and make their way around the board landing on different squares and discussing what they would do if the could turn back time. Your students will be actually using the second conditional tense in closed practice and this lesson will really help them nail this tricky grammar point. There is a nice ESL gapfill there too. Please download the free lesson just below.

Published in Song lessons

"If I had a million dollars...I wouldn't be writing this webpage right now!"

The second conditional tense is the tense which allows the speaker to talk about things which are on seem to be impossible. "If I had a rocket...I'd fly to Mars."

However, for things which are impossible or seem impossible, we actually use this tense in English a great deal in everyday general conversation and in any elementary+ course book, you're going to start coming across this grammar point and have to teach the second conditional. And again, using songs to teach grammar is a perfect way to liven up your classroom and to get your English students to learn English grammar far more easily. 

If I Had a Million Dollars is a wonderful ESL song lesson to teach the Second Conditional. The singer uses the second conditional to talk about what he would do if he had a million dollars and how his life would change. To download the free second conditional ESL song lesson then please find the link at the bottom of this page.


 This song lesson about the second conditional has matching activities and a good group work activities where students discuss what they would do if they had a million dollars. The best class ideas would a cool $1,000,000 cheque to keep. Download the second conditional song lesson below.

Published in Song lessons

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