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Unit 16 again deals with grammar, namely, conditionals and reported speech. Conditionals are sentences that refer to past, present and future possibilities, and contain ‘if’ or ‘when’. They have two clauses, the ‘if’ and the main clause, and either can come in the first part of a conditional sentence. ‘If’ clause contains condition that has to be satisfied before the action or state (the consequence) in the main clause can be realized. There are five main conditionals: zero conditional (it refers to actions and facts that are always true); first conditional (talks about a ‘real’ situation in the future that is possible or probable once the condition has been satisfied); second conditional (communicates a present or future hypothetical situation, unlikely to become true); third conditional (refers to a hypothetical past action and the hypothetical past consequence); and mixed conditional (second plus third conditional clause that refers to a hypothetical past action or state, and the hypothetical present consequence). Learners often make mistakes when they don’t understand the difference between conditionals, and what’s even more confusing is the use of past tenses to express future, as well as complex structure. Some teaching ideas to help them understand and practice conditionals are split sentences, complete the conditional, chain conditionals, what a question, nuclear bunker role play, what would happen if, etc. I personally like teaching conditionals, as many exercises are really fun and motivating, not only to learn grammar but also to make students use their imagination and become creative.
Reported speech is another grammatical point given in this lesson. It is turning the direct questions or statements into indirect speech. Many changes take place, thus confusing students and making this grammar challenging. In questions verbs change into their positive forms, quotation marks are omitted, there is a shift in verb tenses (backshifting: present simple to past simple, past simple to past perfect, etc.; with some exceptions to make things just bit more difficult and complicated), as well as in pronouns (this- that, and here to there) and time expressions (today becomes that day, yesterday the day before). Due to so many changes learners are bound to make numerous mistakes, so patience and systematic approach is of the utmost importance. Some ideas on how to successfully teach and practice reported speech are role play as intermediaries, reporting verbs, and media interviews.