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ESL Future Tense Games & Activities

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson describes some games and activities for teaching your students the usage of the future verb forms of 'will' and 'going to.' All games and activities are based on guessing as a way to engage the class.

Predict the Future

What if you give your students the chance to predict the future? This is how you can introduce this lesson as a way to engage the class into learning how to use 'will' and 'going to.' The activities and games herein provided can be used to teach both forms together or one at the time. As per pedagogical principles, it is best to teach just one form at the time unless you are working with a class where the two forms have been previously taught and practiced. Thus, practicing the contrast between the two forms is probably best only with advanced levels. Similarly, the practice of the two forms works if your lesson's objective is to teach students the difference between 'will' and 'going to.'

Future Tense

The following are activities/games that look at predicting the future.

Using 'Going to'

For this activity, you need to have a PowerPoint presentation that alternates one slide with a specific setting (either an image or text) and the next slide with the result of the previous setting. After giving the instructions about what is expected to your students, model the practice with an example. For instance, say they will see an image of a student entering the library. Ask your students: 'What is going to happen next?' The answer can be, 'S/he is going to borrow a book.' Students only get to see the slide with the answer once they have made their predictions.

Students can work in pairs or individually. Either way, tell students that the correct usage of the form 'going to' will get them 1 point whereas guessing the correct answer on the next slide (along with correct sentence structure) will get them 2 points. The student/group with more assertions is the winner of this competition to predict the future.

Examples of slides you can prepare are as follows:

  • Slide 1: shows thick clouds, or it reads, 'it is really cloudy.'
  • Slide 2: shows rain, or it reads, 'it is going to rain.'
  • Slide 3: shows a person making pancakes, or it reads, 's/he is making pancakes.'
  • Slide 4: shows the person having breakfast, or it reads, 's/he is going to have breakfast.'

Using 'Will'

The setting for this activity/game is the same one as above described. In this case, you will give your students a prompt about an activity someone will do. Based on that prompt, your students can write down a list of predictions. Make sure to give your students a time limit while they work in pairs or individually. Given that brainstorming is part of this activity/game, it is best to have students work in pairs.

Once the time limit elapses, display on a slide the list of predictions you wanted your students to make. Each group can count their assertions and assign themselves one point for answers with correct grammar and two points for answers that are not only correct but coincide with the list of predictions.

Examples of prompts and answers you can prepare are as follows:

  • Prompt: 'Lisa will clean the house tomorrow.'
  • Predictions:
    • 'Lisa will mop the floor'
    • 'Lisa will vacuum'
    • 'Lisa will scrub the stove'
    • 'Lisa will dust the furniture'

Talking about Your future

ESL students love to personalize what they learn by applying it to their own lives. In order to have your students personalize the usage of the future tenses, it is first necessary to model through several examples.

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