This is an adaptable freer practice activity which I have used when teaching various grammar structures. In this example we’re looking at ‘I wish…’ with the past simple.

I have Jane-Maria Harding da Rosa to thank for this activity. She adapted an idea from teaching grammar creatively. Students use pictures and personalised sentences to produce memorable examples of the target language. I’ve written a brief lesson plan to set up the activity.

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“I wish I were a celebrity.”


Lesson plan / set up

For the lead in I wrote a few wishes of my own on the board with gaps and told the class “These sentences are about me. What words are missing?”:

My computer’s broken. I ______ I ______ a new laptop.
I loved visiting Berlin. I ______ I ______ still on holiday.
I’m not very musical. I ______ I ______ play the guitar.
I want to go for a walk. I ______ it ______  raining outside.

Students discuss the sentences in pairs and I elicit the missing words from the class and complete the sentences in a different colour. (Here is an opportunity for concept checking questions and allowing students to ask questions before you move on to practice).

I then wipe away parts of the sentences to leave:

I wish I had
I wish I were
I wish I could
I wish it wasn’t

Students discuss possible answers in pairs then stand up and mingle. They have to tell each other one of their own wishes and one of their partner’s wishes. After a few minutes they sit down and tell their partner about what other people wished for.

The student’s sentences can form the basis of a drilling activity and a brief error correction stage.


Controlled practice

I’ve made a quick practice handout. You can use it as controlled practice using the first page with classes that need additional support. I used the second page with my intermediate teenagers and it worked well.

You can download the practice worksheet by clicking here

worksheet pic.png


Production / main activity

Each student is given a quarter of A4 and asked to write a wish on one side. It must be something they really want and they have to keep it secret from each other. Monitor and help with corrections. Then students turn it over and they’re given three minutes to draw a picture to represent their wish (I remind students that drawing means no words, letters or numbers).

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“I wish I could win an Olympic medal in hockey.”

Once they’ve finished I give each student a number and they write it on their picture (make sure this is done before you start the next part!). Students then place their pictures on their desks so they are easy to see. Next they take a notebook and pen and write numbers on the left side from 1 to however many pictures there are.

Students walk around the room in pairs discussing each picture and writing a sentence next to the corresponding number. After they finish, put students into groups to compare their sentences. Collect the pictures and do open class feedback for each picture in turn, first asking the class and then asking the person who wrote the sentence.

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“I wish I could have a Koenigsegg Agera R.” (student insisted it wasn’t just a car)


Extension and adaptation

You need at least twelve sentences for the activity so if you have a small class each student can write two or more as necessary. For 1-2-1s you can write sentences and draw pictures with your student at the same time.

For an additional challenge ask students to include ‘because’ in their sentence to explain their wish: “I wish I was a celebrity because I want to be rich”

This activity is highly adaptable and could be used with virtually any grammar point. It’s one of several activities I have ready to use in case a class needs some extra practice.

Thanks to Jane-Maria Harding da Rosa for the original idea and for her influence in general. It’s partially thanks to a session on games she presented at IH Newcastle, during my first few months of teaching, that inspired me to start experimenting with my own game ideas and adaptations.

I’m always looking for adaptations of Pictionary. Here are a couple of others on the site:

Thanks for reading!

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“I wish I could travel to Canada.”