Corrupt a Wish (ESL Speaking Activity)

ESL Level: Intermediate+

Language focus: Wish + If (Second Conditional / Present Unreal Conditional)

Class time: 20-30 minutes

Activity Materials: None

Speaking Activity Execution

Note: this activity should be done after teaching the second conditional (including both IF and wish).

First, have students make a list of three wishes. You can have them imagine that they found a genie’s lamp if you’d like. Get them to write down wishes. For example:

  • I wish I were rich.
  • I wish I didn’t have to learn English.
  • I wish I were taller.

Next, tell your students that they should be careful what they wish for. Sometimes when we get something we want, there may be hidden consequences that can make it bad. Tell them that they are going to do an activity called Corrupt a Wish (write on board). Elicit the meaning of corrupt. Tell them that they are going to imagine the negative consequences of their classmates’ wishes. As an example, ask a student for one of his or her wishes.

  • Student: I wish I were taller. 
  • Teacher: If you were taller, then you would hit your head on many things.  (Second Conditional)

Elicit more potentially negative consequences of being taller (e.g., it would be hard to find clothing, etc). Tell your students they are going to do the same thing in groups. Remind them that they are to use the second conditional (Present Unreal)

Put your students in groups of three. Have one student read his/her wish, and let the others ruin it.

Note: This activity goes well with the shorty story The Monkey’s Paw (for advanced students).

Have fun!

– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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2 comments on “Corrupt a Wish (ESL Speaking Activity)

  1. Jay in China (Posted on 7-24-2017 at 17:38) Reply

    Awesome Idea! going to use it today in both my ESL Speech and Oral English classes! thx!

  2. Julie (Posted on 10-18-2017 at 14:49) Reply

    Works perfectly, thanks!

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