Have You Ever, Would You Ever

Basically this lesson is a list of questions to get students talking about unusual experiences. It can be good practice for conditional structures so it might follow a lesson on the use of would as hypothetical: ‘I would go to France if I had enough money.’ ‘I would eat a cockroach if they were baked in a cake.’


Warm Up

Ask students what the strangest thing they have ever done is. If they have trouble thinking of ideas, prompt them by asking if they have ever eaten anything strange or done some kind of extreme sport or ever had a supernatural experience. Depending on the level get them to describe what exactly happened and why they did it.

Now hand out the Survey Sheet. Go over the first set of questions, “Have You Ever”, as a class, getting students to tell stories about when and why they did these things. Alternatively, you can set this up like the party game “I Never”. Read out the cue as a positive statement, for example, “I have left a shop or restaurant without paying.” All those students who HAVE done it, should raise their hands. If only one student (or you the teacher, if you want to play) has raised their hand, he or she has to tell the story.

Introduce the second set of questions, “Would You Ever”, by looking at questions 2 and 3, have you ever lied about your age or name? Ask students why someone might lie about these things. Possible answers include: lying about your age to get into a bar or nightclub, to drive, to vote, to make someone think they are more mature, or to get a children’s discount; lying about your name to a suspicious stranger, to the police, to a nosy neighbor after you did something bad, to mix people up, just for fun, because you don’t like your name.

Now put students in pairs or groups and have them discuss “Would You Ever” Then have the groups report back to the class. Try to prompt them to come up with situations where these actions would be justified. Would you steal if you were poor and hungry? Would you fight with someone if they were trying to hurt your mother?

Now put the students back in groups to go over “What do you do when?” When they report back to the class encourage them to think of both what they do in that situation and what they could do to solve the problem. For example, for ‘What do you do when you can’t sleep?’, many students might answer, ‘Watch TV’ or ‘Go on the Internet’. But ask them to also answer what you can do to make yourself sleep i.e. drink warm milk, count sheep, listen to soft music. Also encourage them to think of alternative situation. What if it’s an old lady who pushes in front of you? What if you are late for a meeting that you don’t really want to go to anyway? What if someone is hitting a dangerous animal like a wolf?

Finally, look over the superlatives. This can be done in groups or as a whole class. You can also turn this into more practice using hypotheticals by asking, ‘What is the most expensive thing you would buy?’, What’s the best thing that could happen to you?’ and so on. Or when students answer, ask other students if they would do the same thing. For example, a student might respond to question 4, ‘I once helped a little old lady across the street.’ You can then ask other students, ‘Have you ever done that?, ‘Would you ever do that?’ What would you do if you saw an old lady standing at a street corner with a lot of bags?’

The fun of this lesson is in looking for situations where strange actions are justified and normal actions are inappropriate. Obviously you can rewrite this to make it more appropriate for different ages, levels and cultures or customs.

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