Language Corner

Language corner will give learners and Teachers helpful tips about learning and teaching a new language.

In native language development, the normal progression of skills is first to say something and then to be able to read and write what one can say. Therefore, abundant oral practice needs to be made available to students in order to afford them the first steps of creating with language. The converse of this phenomenon is also true; if students are not able to produce an idea orally, they will probably not be able to write it. A corollary (something that naturally follows) to this axiom (a statement or proposition that is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true) is that students will usually write at the level at which they speak. Although there will be some students who will read and write at a higher level than their speaking ability, this tends not to be the norm. This notion becomes clearer when we think of the ability of our native-English-speaking students. It is usually true that our best writers and readers are those who have the highest level of spoken language.


A conditional sentence is a sentence containing the word if. There are three common types* of conditional sentence:

  1. if clause > present simple tense : main clause > future tense (will)
    • If you help me, I will help you.
    • If I win the lottery, I will buy a new car.
    • If it snows tomorrow, we will go skiing.
  2. if clause > past simple tense : main clause > would
    • If you knew her, you would agree with me.
    • If I won the lottery, I would buy a new car.
    • If it snowed tomorrow, we would go skiing.
  3. if clause > past perfect tense : main clause > would have
    • If you had helped me, I would have helped you.
    • If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a new car.
    • If it had snowed yesterday, we would have gone skiing.

Of course, it is possible to start conditional sentences with the main clause:

  • I will buy a new car if I win the lottery.
  • I would buy a new car if I won the lottery.
  • I would have bought a new car if I had won the lottery.

English speakers choose one of the three conditional structures as follows:

  1. Conditional one – to express a simple statement of fact or intent
    • I will buy a new car if I win the lottery.
    • I will go home if you don’t stop criticizing me.
    • You will fail your exams if you don’t start working harder.
    • She will lose all her friends if she continues to talk about them behind their backs.
  2. Conditional two – to refer to a present unreal situation or to a situation in the future that the speaker thinks is unlikely to happen
    • If I had a lot of money, I would buy a new car. (but I don’t have a lot of money)
    • If I were you, I would tell him you’re sorry. (but I am not you)
    • If I won the lottery, I would buy a new house. (but I don’t expect to win the lottery)
    • If it snowed tomorrow, we would go skiing. (but I don’t have much hope that it will snow)
  3. Conditional three – to refer to the past and situations that did not happen
    • If it had snowed yesterday, we would have gone skiing. (but it didn’t snow, so we didn’t go skiing)
    • If you had studied harder, you would have passed your test. (but you didn’t study hard, so you didn’t pass your test)
    • If I had known that, I would have told you. (but I didn’t know, so I didn’t tell you)
    • If she hadn’t been driving slowly, she would have had an accident. (but she was driving slowly, so she didn’t have an accident)

* Note: The way native speakers of English express conditions (use if-clauses) is much more varied than the 3 rigid combinations of tenses exemplified on this page. Learners should consult a good grammar reference work for a deeper understanding of this complex aspect of English grammar.

Simple Sentences

I’ve noticed that individuals learning a new language and those electing to learn through general conversation (courses/lessons- in English), still struggle to engage in simple conversation.

1- The vocabulary is very small

2- Trying to incorporate a large complex vocabulary while in engaged in conversation

3- Not understanding verb/noun agreement

4- Grammar: prepositions are misplaced

I try to encourage learners to engage in conversation using simple sentences ( example:  I would rather eat pizza tonight. ), until they are at an advanced level and they are reading world, financial and other news topics on a daily basis. This will assist them in acquiring a more advanced vocabulary because they have adapted a particular study habit of reading these topics on a daily basis.

Reading in your target language on a daily basis is very important. So, spend 5min a day reading in your targeted language and this will assist in mastering your targeted language of choice.

*These are the opinions of a single teacher.

Teacher Tip

#1 Incorporate group work

#2 Speak 20% of the time and have the learner(s) speak 80% of the time (20/80 rule)

#3 Use diverse lesson plans ( writing, reading, listening, speaking)

#4 Incorporate culture lessons ( encourages new students to speak ie, family, friends, activities)

#5 Have the students read aloud

#6 Teach by doing ( use body language )

#7 Always give homework to keep lessons fresh after the class

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