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How to Teach the Future with ¨Will¨ to ESL Students
Two Forms to Express the Future Tense
The future in English comprises two different forms in which it can be expressed. With ¨will¨and ¨be going to; ¨ although, each of the two forms expresses the future, they are often used to express two different meanings.
The future with ¨will¨ often suggests that a person will do something voluntarily. The future with the auxiliary ¨Will¨ is also used when we request someone to do something for us or volunteer to do something. Be going to is most commonly used to express a plan in which a person is going to engage at in the future.
The two forms express the future; however, (be going to) is most commonly used for plans in the near future, while the future with will is not.
In the ESL classroom is very common to start the lesson with a chit-chat activity which can be any kind of activity involving a conversation as a group or individually.
In this lesson, I chose to practice some grammar from previous lessons. Therefore, the students can practice what they have already learned and is fresh in their minds. The chitchat consists of WH questions related to their clothing attire; what are you wearing? What color is it? Where did you buy it? How much did it cost? When did you buy it? Etc...
What form of the future do you use more often?
Have the students write the first sentence of a story, either fictional or real, in their notebooks. After two minutes, tell them to exchange notebooks so that other students can add their own sentences to the stories.
After the notebooks have been passed to all the students in the class, which is usually of no more than 15 students, have them read some of the stories aloud. The fantastic stories heard will ease the stress a little in the whole classroom.
In this lesson, I chose to introduce the future with ¨will¨ with a listening and reading topic activity, which the teacher may read aloud to the students. The grammar intended to be taught is contained within the activity.
The students listen while the teacher reads the topic lesson. After the listening, you may have the students read the article individually. Then, instruct them to underline the pieces of grammar containing the future with ¨will.¨ Tell them to write down the sentences in their notebooks and classify them as affirmative, interrogative or negative sentences.
Topic Lesson (Will you Go to The Zoo with Me?)
Hi, good morning! How are you doing today? Great! Me too! I heard on the news that the weather is going to be excellent today! I hope it stays like this for the rest of the week because I would like to invite you to visit an interesting place.
Will you go to the zoo with me this weekend? Great! We will have the opportunity to see so many interesting animals; some of them are bigger and there is many different species.
Some of them are considered endangered animal species. That is to say, they will become extinct in the future. These animals will not become extinct if their habitats could support them longer.
Will you take care of one them if you could? Personally, I will take care of a polar bear if I could; unfortunately, I can´t and they´re too huge to fit in my room. We will learn a lot about animals this weekend and will make ourselves aware of the issue.
After this activity, you may present the grammar on the white board. You may highlight the grammar points with a different color or just increase the chalk on them, as you wish.
After the grammar presentation, have the students practice the grammar in a lot of settings and activities. You may tell them; for example, to think of ten items that they think are going to be needed at the zoo; for instance, a camera, a drink, sunglasses, food, a hat, etc...
Tell them to form pairs and practice the grammar, like this;
What will you take to the zoo?
I will take a camera.
Will you take some food?
Yes, I will!
No, I will not (won´t)
The practice can continue for as long as all the ideas have been exhausted, but it will usually won´t take more than an hour. The conversation may also be varied with phrases, such as:
Will you take a friend?
Will you take your brothers?
Will you take your girlfriend/boyfriend?
To further practice the grammar in the classroom, tell them to divide the class into two teams; one team ask questions in the future with will, in the topic of a visit to the zoo, and the other half of the team answers, then, they switch places asking and answering questions.
For homework or as a project out of the classroom, tell them to gather information about the kinds of animals that are endangered of extinction and write a short text about the topic.
Next time they come to the classroom, they report their findings to the class.