Song: El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

Idiomatic usage for the conditional is strong:

If… could…, …would….

El Cóndor Pasa (If I could)
Simon & Garfunkel

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would

Away, I’d rather sail away
Like a swan that’s here and gone

A man gets tied up to the ground
He gives the world its saddest sound
Its saddest sound

I’d rather be a forest than a street
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would

I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would

In conversations in general – and speaking tests specifically – you will almost certainly answer any question with the same verb and in the same tense that the question gets asked.

For speaking tests, we need to speak only in a limited number of verb tenses.  One of those verb tenses is the conditional hypothetical.  Speaking tests lend themselves to hypothetical questions because hypothetical questions are fun, counter-factual, and impersonal.  Impersonal, yet everyone can answer them.

Give a P.R.E.P. answer to any of these questions.  You should use the conditional tense (“if”) verb tense.  Give good reasons and examples.

  • If you could go back to university and change your major, what major would you choose?
  • If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
  • If you could time travel, where would you go, and what would you do?
  • If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
  • If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
  • If you could have a superpower, which superpower would you choose?
  • If you could live a moment in your life over again, which moment would you choose?
    • Would you choose to live that moment over again for the memory or to change your actions?
  • If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three material things would you want with you?
  • If you could have been told one thing that you weren’t told when you were a teenager, what would you like to have heard?
  • If you had one extra hour of free time per day, how would you use it?
  • If you had to lose one of your five senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing), which one of them would you prefer to lose and why?
  • If you were president, what would you do?
  • If you could change one thing about your looks what would you change?
  • If you could keep only one memory, which memory would you keep?

P – If I could…, I would…
R – …because….
E – [For example] ….
P – So, if I could…, I would….


I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail
Yes, I would.  If I could, I surely would

Ouch.

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail

I’d rather be a forest than a street

Online Videos Ruining Kids’ Reading Comprehension

Vocabulary, Idioms, and Expressions

  • hooked on – addicted
    • “hooked on drugs”
    • “hooked on video games”
    • sometimes used for “like doing very much”
      • I’m hooked on BTS’s new song.
  • lost at sea – adrift, without direction, lost
  1. “Teachers also blame ‘progressive’ education officials who have gotten rid of conventional dictation, reading and writing lessons in favor of student-centered and non-competitive learning that leaves kids at sea.”
    • Korean middle schools stopped testing first grade middle school students. Are you for or against this policy?
    • What are the advantages of testing?
    • What are the disadvantages of testing
    • Do you think students should not have tests?
    • What do you suggest as a measurement other than tests?
  2. “Getting rid of testing because it supposedly threatens kids’ confidence resulted in the kids lacking a sense of what they do or don’t know,” one said.
    • Have you talked to teachers about what they think about tests?
    • What do parents think about tests?

A growing number of children are hooked on YouTube at the expense of books and have increasing trouble understanding written texts.

Teachers say the problem is getting serious. The Chosun Ilbo and the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations surveyed 1,152 teachers and found that 37.9 percent rated students’ reading comprehension at 70 out of 100 and 35.1 percent at 60 out of 100, while only 15.4 percent rated it 80 out of 100. Some 9.4 percent rated it less than 59 out of 100 or fail.

One middle school in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province has started teaching remedial Korean vocabulary classes after hours. Such classes are usually needed only for English and math, but the school found that growing numbers of students lacked even basic vocabulary.

“We had to starting the lessons because students had problems reading more than three sentences at a time and couldn’t connect the meanings of different sentences.” 

Teachers also blame “progressive” education officials who have gotten rid of conventional dictation, reading and writing lessons in favor of student-centered and non-competitive learning that leaves kids at sea.

“Getting rid of testing because it supposedly threatens kids’ confidence resulted in the kids lacking a sense of what they do or don’t know,” one said.

Ironically, these steps were aimed at helping kids from less privileged background but ended up hurting them most. Students with more affluent and better educated parents can always go to crammers or learn from their parents, but the less privileged rely on the haphazard school curriculum.