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Learning Languages for Life

Category: FCE

Speaking Grammar: Show you’re sad about your life with “wish”

Follow the steps on this page to learn how to improve:

  • grammar range by using the grammar structure “wish + II” to show you’re sad about your life now
  • grammar range even more by using II conditional after it
  • vocab range by using “really” and “kind of”
  • pronunciation by pronouncing the structure well to reflect the meaning.

Step 1

watch the video

 

 

 

Step 2

if you need more examples, scroll down for further explanations in the “notes” section, if not, click on the link here, fill in the table, and send it to your teacher.

 

Step 3

when your teacher has checked that your sentences are correct, make a video of yourself practicing them and send the video to your teacher. When you make the video, focus on pronunciation. “really” should be stressed,  “kind of” should be said to show that it’s not that important.

 

and that’s it. Keep reading for further practice

 

 

Step 4

watch the video, and practice reporting. Note “she wishES

 

 

 

 

Step 5 (if you have anki)

Download the anki deck for more practice from here

 

Notes:

 

the following sentences are from my life at the moment. They are real situations….

1 – I don’t have time to practice the guitar

2 – I sometimes smoke cigarettes

3 – I am tired

4 – I don’t know Chinese 100%

5 – I have to travel a lot

6 – I spend too much time reading the newspaper

If I’m talking with another person, and I want to tell them that

a – I have this situation

b – I am sad / unhappy about it

I can say….

I don’t have time to practice the guitar, and I’m unhappy about it.

OR

I wish I had time to practice the guitar.

If I say… “I wish I didn’t smoke cigarettes” this is the same as saying “I smoke cigarettes and I’m sad / unhappy about it.”

So, the function of “I wish I…” = to tell the other person that you are sad / unhappy about a situation at the moment. You do this by ‘imagining’ a better ‘unreal’ situation. You want to go away from your ‘sad’ / ‘unhappy’ real situation into an ‘unreal one’. Please note, because you’re imagining an unreal situation, use the II (2nd) form of the verb (go = I, went = II , gone = III)

e.g.

I am tired and I’m sad about this = I wish I wasn’t tired

am – wasn’t (we use ‘not’ because we are imagining the opposite situation)

I don’t know Chinese 100% and I’m unhappy about this = I wish I knew Chinese 100%

don’t know – knew (we don’t use ‘don’t’ because we are imagining the opposite ‘unreal’ situation. The real situation that makes me unhappy is ‘I don’t know Chinese’, so the imaginary / unreal ‘happier’ situation is ‘I knew’)

Note – The II (2nd) form here does not talk about the past!!! I wish I knew Chinese 100% NOW.

We can use the II form like “went, did, played, knew” for different functions.

One function is to talk about the past “When I was young I knew mathematics well.” Students learn this function first, so they often think automatically that ‘knew’ is past simple or past indefininite, but…..

Another function is to imagine an unreal present / future “If I knew mathematics now, I could help my child with her homework / I wish I knew mathematics now so I could help my child now.”

– there are more functions of II but I will not

So, the last two

“I wish I didn’t have to travel a lot” = “I have to travel a lot and I’m sad”

“I wish I didn’t spend too much time reading the newspaper” = “I spend a lot of time reading the newspaper and I’m sad about that.”

Look at the following sentences. In which ones do you know 100% how I feel about the situation? Put ‘not sure’ if it’s not clear if I’m unhappy / sad or maybe happy. Put if it is clear that I am sad / unhappy about the situation.

e.g.

a – I can’t speak French. = not sure (how I feel)

This is a fact, but you can’t say if I am unhappy or not. E.g. I can say “I can’t speak French, and this is not a problem because I don’t like it.”

b – I wish I could speak French. =

This tells you that my real situation is “I can’t speak French, and I am unhappy about it.”

1 – I don’t go to the gym much.

2 – I have a class today.

3 – I wish I didn’t have class today.

4 – I wish I knew English better.

5 – I don’t know English well enough and I’m sad about it.

6 – I play the computer 5 hours a day.

1 = ? 2 = ? 3 = 4 = 5 = 6 = ?

Look at the following pictures. The people use ‘I wish I…..’ to tell you about a situation in their life that they are sad / unhappy about. What are the situations?

1 –

The situation = I don’t know and I’m sad / unhappy about this = I wish I knew

2 –

The situation = I don’t work there and I’m unhappy / sad = I wish I worked there

3 –

the sad / unhappy situation = ?

4 –

sad / unhappy situation =

5 –

sad / unhappy situation =

6 –

sad / unhappy situation =

3 = I’m not with Michelle / 4 = I can’t kill my parents / 5 = I can’t forget you / 6 = I can’t hate you / 7 = I can’t give you a hug.

Notes on the notes:

1 – As you can see, it’s typical for us to use this function with ‘I can’t – I wish I could’. This is because “I can’t….” is often something that is sad for us

2 – if the real situation is connected with ‘not much’ / ‘not well’ / too we often use ‘more’ / ‘better’ / so with the ‘I wish…’

e.g. I don’t see you much and I’m sad about this = I wish I saw you more (‘a lot’ is also possible)

I don’t speak well = I wish I spoke better. (‘well’ is also possible)

I smoke too much = I wish I didn’t smoke so much

3 – I wish I IS NOT “I want”. If you want a cup of coffee, say “I want / would like to have a cup of coffee.”If you say “I wish I had a cup of coffee.” it is like saying “I am sad / unhappy that I don’t have a cup of coffee

4 – don’t use it to talk about a future situation ‘will’. For example

“Tomorrow I’ll work a lot and I’m unhappy about this.” We can’t say “I wish I won’t / wouldn’t work tomorrow”.

If you are talking about the future but using a present verb and NOT ‘will’, e.g. ‘am’, you can use ‘wish’

e.g. “I am working tomorrow and I’m sad about this.” = “I wish I wasn’t working tomorrow.” (note that ‘working’ doesn’t change)

“I am going to a boring party tonight, it’s annoying.” = “I wish I wasn’t going to a boring party tonight.”

5 – we can use a structure “I wish to do”, but it has a different function. “I wish to go” = “I want to go”. It doesn’t say that you’re sad / talk about your feelings, it just says that you ‘want’. This structure for ‘wan’t’ is formal, so use it in business letters, not when having a conversation. You can see more examples here .

6 – don’t forget the second ‘I’. A typical mistake is…. “I wish wasn’t tired”

7 – don’t use ‘would’ with “I wish I…”. A typical mistake is “I wish I wouldn’t be tired”

 

Further Practice:

Practice using the function ‘I wish I..’ to tell someone about a sad / unhappy situation at the moment in the following sentences

I can’t be with you and I’m sad about this = I wish I …..

I wish I could be with you

I don’t help you more and I’m sad about this = I wish..

I wish I helped you more

I don’t have a good relationship with my boss = I wish….

I wish I had a good …..

I play the computer 5 hours a day, it’s bad. = I wish I

I wish I didn’t play the computer 5 hours a day

I have to go to work tomorrow. Grrrrrr. = I wish..

I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.

I’m tired = I wish …

I wish I wasn’t tired

I have class today, and I don’t want to go. = I wish …

I wish I didn’t have class today

I’m going to the doctor today, I’m unhappy about this = I wish ..

I wish I wasn’t going to the doctor today

I drink too much alcohol. It’s very sad. = I wish I…

I wish I didn’t drink alcohol so much (or – I wish I didn’t drink alcohol)

I can’t cook well, it’s a problem. = I wish…

I wish I could cook well

10 Step Exam Speaking: How often (generalizing, contrasting)

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas

 

Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.

 

Step 3 “a” : Focus on structures for saying “how often” (or “not”)  you do something

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which  “how often” (or “not”) structures are used.

IELTS speaking - How often

 

Note:

Once / Twice a week (NOT “in a week”)

Three / four / ten / 15 times a year / month

fortnight = two weeks – Once a fortnight = once every two weeks

If the number is not “a” month / year, then use every:

3 times every 2 weeks

5 times every 4 months

but

3 times a week

5 times a month

 

Step 3  “b” : Focus on structures for “generalizing” and “contrasting” 

Perhaps you noticed some of these structures in  “Step 2: Learn from listening” . In any case, looking at the tables below, listen again and mark which  “generalizing” and “contrasting” structures are used.

IELTS speaking: generalizing

IELTS Speaking: Contrasting

 

 

Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the structures,  make a note of stress and intonation.

 

Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the structures you hear from the tables, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”

 

Step 7: Linguistic choice

Think about your ideas to answer one of the questions. Choose the structure(s)  that best match(es) your opinion

 

Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.

 

Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.

 

Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)

10 Step Exam speaking: Likes and favorite

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas

 

Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.

 

Step 3: Focus on opinion and reason structures (coherence and cohesion )

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which opinion / reason structures are used.

 

Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the opinion and reason structures, make a note of stress and intonation.

 

Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the opinion structures you hear from the table, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”

 

Step 6: Plan your own answer

For the first question (and later the other questions), make a note of your opinion / reason (example, contrast)

 

Step 7: Linguistic choice

Choose the opinion structure that best matches your opinion

 

Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the opinion structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.

 

Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.

 

Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)

 

 

 

Exam speaking with LC Langauges: Daily routine:

The student you will hear is answering the question “Was your daily routine different before?”

Before listening, think about your own answer. Record yourself answering if possible, and make a note of the language you use.

 

Video Exercise One: Accuracy

A – Listen to a native speaker answer the question then do the gapped worksheet at the link here (question 2!!!)

B – Look at this list of correct lexical and grammar structures

  1. to go snowboarding
  2. to play computer games
  3. for hours on end
  4. I’m (always) flat out
  5. I don’t have much time
  6. to have a rest and unwind
  7. I wish I had been able to play dolls more than I did

Now watch the answer, the student makes mistakes with the above structures. Can you spot the mistakes she makes?

 

Check the answers at the end.

Video Exercise Two: Range of Lexical and Grammar Structures

A – These are less common or more complex lexical (vocab) / grammar structures from the LC Languages listening example answer (the link is in exercise one) . If it is a lexical structure, put L, if it is a grammar structure,put G.

  1. Completely different
  2. back when I was at school
  3. as late as possible
  4. to wolf down (some breakfast)
  5. to head off (for school / for work)
  6. I would hang out with friends / we would go over to someone’s place
  7. to go over
  8. (to do something) for hours on end
  9. I should have studied
  10. instead of
  11. If I had been…. I would have gotten
  12. be studious
  13. I (don’t) regret (spending / doing)

Check the answers at the end.

 

B – Can you remember which of the above expressions she uses? Try and remember and then watch the video above again. Whe you’ve finished check the answers at the end

 

Speaking Exercise One: Activation

  1. What would you do to unwind back when you were at school?
  2. What time did / do you head off for school? What about now (re-activate the expression)
  3. How often do you have people over? (=invite people to visit your place)
  4. Do you have them over for dinner, or drinks or to watch a movie?
  5. What’s something you do for hours on end?
  6. What’s something you should have done back when you were at school or when you were younger but you didn’t?
  7. If you had been more studious, would your life have changed a lot?
  8. Do you regret doing any of the things you have done in the last two or three years?

 

 

 

 

 

Video One: B:

Correct 🙂

Incorrect 🙁

to lay in the sun

on the sun (from Russian)

to go snowboarding

To ride snowboarding

to play computer games

To play in computer games (from Russian)

for hours on end

for hour on end

I’m (always) flat out

I’m a flat -out person (not wrong, but we usually say “I’m always flat out.” and finish

I don’t have much time to + verb

I don’t have many time for + verb

to have a rest and unwind

To get unwind*

I wish I had been able to play dolls more than I did

I wish I could… (I wish I could (II)= I’m sad I can’t do something now.)

* pronunciation is incorrect as well

Video 2 B:

 

completely different

back when I was at school

as late as possible

to wolf down (some breakfast)

to head off (for school / for work)

I would hang out with friends / we would go over to someone’s place

to go over (to someone’s place)

(to do something) for hours on end

I should have studied

instead of

If I had been…. I would have gotten

be studious

I (don’t) regret (spending / doing)

 

 

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