Teaching Future Tenses to Intermediate Learners

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One challenge of teaching intermediate grammar is that students have seen it before.  In particular, students have knowledge and experience with the basic tenses. The goal for intermediate levels, then, is not to start at the beginning but to aim a little higher.  The following semi-controlled activity sets up practice of be going to for plans and will for predictions. Based on the assumption that students are familiar with both, the activity allows teachers to do a quick assessment and adjust the lesson to target specific needs.

Materials: students’ paper and pens.

Time: 20 minutes

 

A) Introduce the forms

Start with an example.  Tell students about a definite plan that will allow them to predict a possible outcome.  Here are some examples.

  • I am going to meet a friend tomorrow morning, and we are going to run ten miles.
  • I am excited because I am going to Bali next summer.

Ask students to make a prediction about how you will feel or what will happen.  (You might also note that in predictions it is also okay to use be going to.)  They might produce something like the following.

  • You will be tired afterwards.
  • You will spend a lot of money. You will have a good time.

Check understanding of be going to for plans that are not expected to change and will for predictions, but do not spend a lot of time “teaching” them. (Perhaps note that the more sure you are about your prediction, the more likely it is that you will use be going to.)

 

B) Practice

1)     Have individual students write a quick list of five definite plans using be going to.

2)     Put students in pairs, and have them take turns stating their plans.  When partner A explains a plan, partner B should make a prediction.  When A’s list is exhausted, they can switch roles.  Partner B reads a statement with a plan, and A makes a prediction.

3)     While students practice, the teacher can listen for errors or misunderstandings and use the information for lesson planning or error correction.  The teacher can also extend the lesson to include will with probably, or use of the present progressive for future meaning depending on students’ accomplishments.

4)     As a follow up to any new material, students can switch partners and repeat with a new partner using the new language.