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
Lost was an HBO smash hit about a plane which crashes onto a deserted island thousands of miles from anywhere and the world believes the plane lost. In reality, many of the passengers are still very much alive. Lost continued for many years.

This is a supplementary activity for intermediate or advanced students who want to learn a few verbs in present continuous form which they may not have come across before. Advanced level students are always eager to come across new words and this is an exciting way to teach them something different.

To run this high-level present continuous TV lesson, you'll need the first episode of Lost Season 1 of Lost S01E01 - you can download this here. 

Before class, you should print out the jigsaw puzzle containing the words on page 3. You need to arrange your students into groups of three; you should make one copy per group. Cut up the puzzle pieces using scissors or a craft knife and paper clip the pieces together. Each group of three will now have a neat bundle of puzzle pieces. Remember to shuffle up each group’s pieces before you paperclip them together! (Tip: white card is better than white paper.)
In class:
Play the first episode of Lost (season one), where the plane crashes onto a desert island and everyone is in a state of panic and shock. Groups need to watch the movie and put the puzzle pieces into a pile in the order that they see the action. When the movie clip has finished, the students should put the pieces together from left to right, then right to left, then left to right, then right to left (as shown on page 4). If they have got the order right, then the puzzle should fit neatly together.
You should play the episode from the very start until 15:16mins. You might want to play the clip twice if your students need to see it again. 
Have fun! 
Published in Movie lessons
Independence Day, which came out on the 4th July of that year, was the summer blockbuster of 1996 starring Will Smith. It's a disaster action movie with a sci-fi twist, with aliens invading the earth. Actually a very cool movie!

Teaching grammar to your ESL students doesn't need to always be boring, in fact teaching grammar to your ESL students shouldn't ever be boring! You can use Independence Day to teach a whole range of English grammar structures, but in this movie lesson to teach English, we are going to look at the differences between will and going to. This movie lesson is perfect for elementary level students learning Will vs Going to from the ages of 9 and up.

Want to do this ESL movie lesson but need Independence Day? Click here to order your copy

Preparing Before Class

You will need to make one photocopy the sentence strip sheet for each pair of students in your class. Cut up the sentence strips, shuffle them and paper clip them per pair.
What to Do in Class

Ask your students what their plans are for after the class. Ask them what their plans are for the evening, the weekend, the summer holiday, Christmas, whatever. Write their responses on the board. You should have a mix of I will responses and I’m going to responses.
Ask your students why they gave the two different responses and if there is a difference between the two. Ask them if there is a rule about which to use and when. Discuss their ideas and then write the rule on the board for them to see. Ask students to give you some examples of both.
Tell them that they are going to watch parts of Independence Day where they will hear will and going to being used quite frequently. 

Hand out the sentence strips to each pair and tell them that they must put them in the order that they hear them. It is a fun way to learn the rule! Good luck! 

Hand out the 'will vs going to 'grammar rule sheet after for them to take home and study.

Will vs Going to
Will and Going to are both used to talk about the future. But be careful, they are not the same!

- Is used to talk about things in the future that we can’t control 
- Is used when we make a decision to do something while we speak. 
For example:
Maybe it will be sunny tomorrow
I think I will go to the park

Going to
    - To talk about things we have already decided to do or planned. 
- Is used when there is something in the present that tells us about the future. 
For example: 
Next month, I am going to quit my job
The team is on the pitch, the football match is going to start! 

Written by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen China
Published in Movie lessons
Don't Speak by No Doubt has been predominantly used to teach the present continuous tense in the past; however I decided to have a bit of fun with it! I got the idea from the name of the song – “Don’t speak!”
I thought how fun it would be to cut the song lyrics up into strips and have the students mime to each other to sort out the order. It worked marvelously!

Want to try this ESL song class tomorrow and need the song? No problem - click here to download the song. You'll be helping this site to grow too.

What to Do in Class
Divide the class up into a number of teams. You should have between 3-6 students on a team. Give each team the song strips (already cut up by you before class.) Give one student from each team the entire song lyrics sheet (opposite). They are not allowed to show this sheet to their team.
Give the students a little time to arrange their song strips and to ask you the meaning of any tricky words. At your signal, each team member who has the full lyrics must mime the song to the rest of their team, so that they can put the sentence strips in the correct order. The first team to get the entire song in the correct order wins! Play the song at the end so that students can check if they have put the sentences in the correct order.
This is a great activity, which will really liven up the classroom. Your students are sure to go home with smiles on their faces and some fantastic new language!


Lesson written by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen
Published in Song lessons
Where were you when we were getting high?

Champage Supernova is a great song if you are teaching the Past Continuous tense with your adult ESL class. Find the link for Champagne Supernova past continuous lesson at the bottom of this page.

Oasis blazed a trail through British and world music throughout the 90's and early 2000's. Their sound defined the time and many of their songs are absolute classics. Champagne Supernova was written by guitarist Noel Gallagher and is one of the top songs on the album What's the Story Morning Glory

Published in Song lessons

Tag questions can be tricky for ESL students to learn and get right, can't they? Tag questions are also tricky for TEFL teachers to teach, aren't they? Tag questions are the little two-word questions that come on the end of many sentences such as: can they? can't they? will they? won't they? shall we? shalln't we? etc

There are a number of good songs out there which English teachers can use to teach tag questions, but A Little Time by The Beautiful South is one of the better ones. There is a good range of different tag questions in the song so students can listen in closely at the different tag questions.

To download the tag question lesson plan, then please click the link below. 

Published in Song 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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