a project on Conditionals
In this project, students (either individually or in pairs) choose a field that they know enough about that they could give different recommendations to different people. The students will then make a flowchart to direct people to the right recommendation based on each person’s preferences, experiences, etc.
Example topics include Which classic movie should I watch next?, Which smartphone should I buy?, and What meal should I learn to cook? The possibilities are endless. The only requirement is that the decision should have multiple options (say, four minimum). It helps if students are already familiar enough with the topic, especially if you’d like this project to be done in a day. However, you could allow for students to work on it for homework over a week, in which case they can further research any areas they don’t know enough about.
Designing the Flowchart
A flowchart is comprised of multiple boxes with arrows connecting one to another. They usually flow from the top down, though some flow from left to right. For this project, you may only need two types of boxes:
- Terminals. These are typically oval shaped. The first terminal is the central question or topic, and it begins the flowchart with a single outgoing arrow. The other terminals are the final recommendations with an incoming arrow (usually one, but not necessarily), and no outgoing arrows, meaning the process ends at these terminals.
- Decision Points. These are usually rectangle or diamond-shaped with one incoming arrow and two (or possibly more) outgoing arrows. The most basic decision box poses a Yes/No Question, the has one outgoing arrow for “yes” and another outgoing arrow for “no”. However decision boxes can be more complex, if you prefer.
The trickiest part of designing a flowchart is figuring out the decision points, so I’d recommend starting with those, as opposed to starting with the final recommendations (the terminals) and working backward.
If the topic is What meal should I learn to cook?, my first decision point might be “Have you cooked much before?” If the answer is ‘yes’, the arrow leads to the decision box “What is your favorite cuisine?”, with perhaps four arrows leading away from that. If the answer to the first question is ‘no’, that arrow might lead to the decision “Would you prefer stovetop or oven?” Each decision point would branch out into more options (though occasionally two branches could rejoin coming into the same box) until the arrows lead to terminals.
The final flowchart should have 15-25 boxes (including decision points and terminals; answers are arrows and are not counted as questions). Of course, if you have ambitious students and they have enough time, you’re free to encourage them to do a longer flowchart.
While the first part of this project is very creative, it’s not until the presentation that Conditionals will be used consistently (so don’t skip this part!). Students present their flowchart by displaying the visual to the rest of the class while talking through at least one path of the diagram.
For example: “If you have cooked plenty before, go to this box. If your favorite cuisine is Thai food, go to this box. If you don’t like spicy food, you should make a Pad Thai dish.”
Much of this will be expressed through the Zero conditional for most of these flowcharts, although some topics might make way for other conditionals.
Check out Insights’s Unreal Mood Series or Modifier Clauses Series to view our videos on Conditionals and related topics. In these videos, we share innovative teaching methods to make it easier for students to understand and remember grammar points.