A Brief Encounter with Grammar : I Wish

I wish A3 web


Main Activities Prediction, listening, grammar (wishes) and speaking.

Suitable for  Teens and adults, Pre-Advanced (B2.2) and above.

TEACHER’S NOTES    (Click here for a pdf of theTeacher’s Notes.)


Put students into groups of three or four. Tell them that they’re going to see a short extract from a film.


Show the film from 07:18 to 10:11.

Then ask them to discuss the following questions:

  • What’s happened to the woman?
  • What’s the relationship between the two women?
  • Is she glad that the other woman is keeping her company?


Get some theories from the groups and write them up on the board. Tell them that you’ll reveal the answer later.


Now see if anyone can answer this question: Which word did she use eight times? Hopefully, someone will come up with the answer “wish”.


Ask them if they can remember any of the things she said using it.


Show them the scene again, but don’t let them write as they watch. When they’ve seen it, ask them to complete the gaps in these sentences.


Let them decide if they’d like to see it one more time to check/improve their answers. Alternatively, play it again, pausing after each sentence.


Display or hand out the answers.


Ask them to divide the sentences (except 3 and 4) into two groups with different meanings and forms. They should decide what the meanings are and describe the rule for the form.


Display the first block of the infographic (either use the one above or click here for the first block only) so they can check their two groups and then reveal the second block, Groups 1 and 2, to see if they have come up with the same.


Now display the plot summary so they can see how close their theories were in step 3.


Ask how she feels about the affair. Does she regret it or not?


Display the third block of the infographic, True or False?. Ask the class to vote on whether the sentences are true or false. Then play the video from 09:27-10:11 again. (This shows that the first one is obviously false – the other two are debatable.)


Now ask them to make a third group for “wish” that describes the structure and meaning for these last three examples. They should come up with something like wish + past perfect verb form, used to express regret about the past.


Finally, reveal the fourth block of the infographic, Over to You, and ask students to complete the stem sentences with true desires, complaints and regrets of their own.


Get students to sit in groups of three, read their sentences to each other and then explain and comment.




This lesson starts off with a brilliantly edited video mash-up; Dutch filmmaker Matthijs Vlot took Lionel Richie’s 1984 hit Hello and mashed it up with short clips from a number of Hollywood films so that the words in the clips synch perfectly with the song lyrics.

Students have to count, chat, listen and write in class before going home to watch the original video of the song, which was voted worst music video of all time in a survey by music channel The Box. In the next class, students say what they thought of the video and then watch the Starburst commercial (just because it’s funny).

Hello Teacher’s Notes

Meet the Parents

What do a cat, an urn and a tall story have in common? They all feature in one of my favourite scenes from Meet the Parents, the highly entertaining, occasionally cringe inducing, sometimes laugh out loud funny story of a man who tries too hard to please his future parents-in-law.

This activity begins with a vocabulary game, leads on to some watching and listening, and finishes off with some pronunciation and prediction. And hopefully it will raise one or two laughs along the way.

photo by IITA Image Library on Flickr

Meet the Parents Teacher’s Notes

Meet the parents vocab

Meet the parents script

Steve’s Talk at TESOL Spain

Here’s the handout from my talk at TESOL. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Tried and Tested Handout


Here’s what the experts had to say: “This movie is remarkable for a brilliant montage sequence at the very beginning…it is a masterclass in narrative exposition…” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian   “If it had lived up to its golden first five minutes, Up would have been the film of the decade.” Ian Freer, Empire Magazine   Our first lesson is based on the critically-acclaimed silent scene near the beginning of “Up” where we see the story of a married life in less than 5 minutes. It’s brilliantly done, but be warned – it’s also a bit sad! There are three different exercises all based around vocabulary acquisition and students are asked to guess, remember and finally chat about themselves using what they’ve seen. We’ve included a detailed description of how we’ve been working on this last part with students so that they get the most out of the ensuing conversations. We hope you and your students enjoy it.

Here are the Teacher’s notes and the Student Worksheet.

Up Teacher’s Notes

Up Student Worksheet