Teaching future tense

Expressing the future tense in English may pose a problems for learners because it can be expressed differently for different purposes. This is a short list of some future forms:

  • Bread is not on my shopping list. Good idea! I’ll get a loaf. (Decision taken at the moment of speaking)
  • These flowers won’t grow there. It’s too dark there. (Future prediction)
  • Sugar is on my shopping list. I am going to buy some. (Decisions taken before speaking)
  • We’re playing tennis this afternoon. (future arrangement)
  • I might go to Paris. (Future possibility)

In this lesson plan, focus is on teaching the structure going to with a verb to express a future plan (a decision taken before the time of speaking). The lesson includes a warm up to gain attention and stimulate prior knowledge, present structures with going to for future plans, help learner notice the use of this structure and practice it. The lesson ends with a follow-up to elicit performance of the structure.

How to teach going to for future plans?

Warm up

If you are dealing with beginners, it would be much better to teach the simple present before teaching the future plan. If you are dealing with intermediate students, simply review the simple future.  To review the simple future, you may introduce an activity that involves a fortune-teller. Elicit from students how a fortune-teller predicts something in the future:
Examples: Fortune teller says:
1. You will get rich.
2. You will set up your own business.
3. You will marry a beautiful girl.
4. You will have a lot of children…

This can be done in the form of a role play activity.
Of course the simple future is used in other situations (e.g. instant decisions)
Once students understand how and when to use the simple future, you may proceed to teach going to + verb

Presentation

Next, try to introduce the future plan with going to + verb. Give examples where it is used for decisions that were taken before the time of speaking:

Examples:

  • We are going to get married after graduation.
  •  We are not going to live here.
  •  We are going to move to New York after graduation.

Help learners notice the following:

  1. The use of the future tense with going to.
  2. The structure going to + verb in these sentences is used to refer to events planned before the time of speaking. These are decisions taken prior to the moment of speaking.

Activity

1. Introduce an activity which involves an interview with someone who has won a lot of money in the lottery:

A. What are you going to do with the money?
B: I am going to set up my own business.
A: Are you going to help people in your family?
B: Of course, and I’m going to buy a farm in the countryside.
….

2. Shopping list:

Students give examples of things they are going to buy.

Follow up

Writing

  • Students write a short paragraph about what they have decided to do next weekend.
  • Students take turn reading their paragraphs.

Pair work

Write these examples on the board:

Going to (decisions taken before the time of speaking) Simple future (future predictions)
I am going to meet my friend tomorrow morning.
We are going to work all day long on our project
You will feel tired You will have lunch at work.
You will come back home late.
You won’t probably have time to relax.
  • Tell students to work in pairs to provide a quick list of three plans using going to.
  • They take turns: student A tell about one of his plans. Student B makes predictions. (as in the table above)

Role play

A friend is planning to go on holiday soon. Ask her about her/his plans. Use the words in brackets make questions:

  1. (where / go ?) ___________________ .
  2. (how long / go for?) _________________
  3. (when / leave ?) _____________________ .
  4.  (travel/ alone ?) _______________________ .
  5. (who/travel with?)
  6. ( travel / by plane ?) ___________________.
  7.  (where / stay ?) ______________________ .