The future progressive is the future!
Are you ready to take your adult ESL students’ communication skills to the next level? Teaching the future progressive tense, a crucial aspect of the English language, can help them do just that.
The future progressive tense is used to describe actions that will be in progress at a specific time in the future. Teaching your students how to use it correctly will not only enhance their ability to express themselves in English but also increase their confidence when speaking and writing.
By understanding and using this tense correctly, adult ESL students can effectively communicate their plans, schedules, and future events in English, allowing them to participate better in social and professional situations.
Now, let’s take a step back and briefly go over just what the future progressive is for those of you who are new to teaching grammar.
Forming and Using the Future Progressive
The future progressive is formed using the auxiliary verb “will” + be + present participle (-ing). For example: “I will be working at 2 pm tomorrow.” It is important to emphasize the correct use of the auxiliary verb “will” and the present participle (-ing) when teaching the future progressive.
The future progressive is used to describe actions that will be in progress at a specific time in the future. For example:
- I will be working at 8 pm tonight. (I will start working before 8 pm tonight, be working when eight o’clock rolls around, and will likely still be working from 8:01 onwards unless something interrupts me or until my shift ends.)
- The mayor will be announcing the winners during her speech tomorrow afternoon. (The mayor will begin her speech, and at some point during the speech, she’ll say who won. She might end the speech immediately after or continue talking. She could poossibly start the speech with the winners’ names, but that’s not likely, as speeches usually follow a format that requires an introduction.)
It is also used to describe continuing long actions that get interrupted by a short action. For example:
They will be adding the finishing touches to the decorations when the doors open. (They started (or will start) decorating at some point before the doors will open and will still be working on the decorations as the doors open, but they will complete the decorating very soon after.)
With my luck, I’ll be driving down the highway when my tire blows out. (Right now, I’m not driving down the highway, but perhaps I’m already on the way, or perhaps I’m still getting ready. At some point, after I’ve started driving down the highway, I’ll probably have a blowout, but it hasn’t happened yet. When (if) it does, it’ll be after I’ve reached the highway.)
It is important to note that the future progressive is not used with stative verbs such as love, know, and want.
The Value of the Future Progressive Tense: Practical Examples for Adult ESL
You might have students unconvinced that the future progressive tense is necessary, choosing to use the simple future instead. You’ll need to demonstrate its value to them. Here are a few real-life situations where the future progressive can be useful for adult ESL students.
- Making plans: The future progressive can be used to describe actions that will be in progress at a specific time in the future, such as making plans with friends or colleagues. For example, an adult ESL student might say, “I need to reschedule because I will be meeting with my study group at the library at 6 pm tonight.”
- Scheduling appointments: The future progressive can be used to describe actions that will be happening around a specific time in the future, such as scheduling appointments or meetings. For example, an adult ESL student might say, “I will be seeing the dentist at 10 am next Wednesday, so I don’t think I can make it at 11. How about around one pm or on Thursday instead?”
- Describing future events: The future progressive can be used to describe actions that will be happening around a specific time in the future, such as attending events or celebrations. For example, an adult ESL student might say, “Could I give my presentation on a different day? I will be attending my sister’s wedding this weekend, so I won’t have much time to prepare.”
Tips for Teaching the Future Progressive to Adult ESL Students
Grammar guides and worksheets absolutely have their place in teaching the future progressive to your adult ESL students. That’s a format many find familiar and comfortable, and when time is of the essence (as it is in many intensive English programs), you’ll certainly want to use them.
However, when you add some more interactive elements to your grammar lesson, your students will have a more enjoyable experience. That’s not to say that your grammar lessons should consist entirely of role plays and games–but let them be a welcomed addition. After all, grammar guides and worksheets are the main dish that fills you up, and what follows is the dessert that leaves the sweet taste.
Bringing Real-Life Examples and Scenarios into Your Future Progressive Lessons
Using real-life scenarios and examples is a great way to get your adult ESL students excited about learning the future progressive tense. Here are a few ways you can incorporate real-life examples into your lessons:
- Use authentic materials: Bring in real-life examples of the future progressive tense from authentic materials, such as news articles, social media posts, or online blogs. This will give your students a chance to see how the tense is used in natural, everyday language.
- Encourage personalization: Ask your students to think about their own plans and schedules, and have them practice using the future progressive to describe what they will be doing at a specific time in the future as the reason or excuse for not being able to do something else. For example, “I’d love to help, but I will be watching my daughter’s drum performance tomorrow.”
- Try role-play: Use role-play activities to give your students practice using the future progressive in realistic situations. For example, have them pretend to make plans with a friend or colleague or schedule a doctor’s appointment where there are conflicts with other plans. This will not only help them practice using the tense and improve their overall communication skills.
By using real-life examples and scenarios, you can make learning the future progressive more engaging and relevant for your adult ESL students. This can help increase their motivation and enthusiasm for learning the tense and ultimately improve their overall understanding and use of it.
Maximizing Practice Opportunities: The Importance of Using Speaking and Writing Exercises to Teach the Future Progressive
Practicing the future progressive tense is an essential part of helping adult ESL students master this important aspect of the English language. Encouraging your students to use the tense in speaking and writing exercises can not only help them get a feel for how it is used but also improve their overall communication skills.
There are many ways you can incorporate speaking exercises into your lessons to help your students practice using the future progressive. One idea is to have students work in pairs or small groups to role-play realistic scenarios that require the use of the future progressive. For example, have them pretend to make plans with a friend or schedule a meeting.
Another idea is to have students take turns describing their plans for the future using the future progressive. For example, “I will be going on a road trip to the beach next month.” They can build on their partner’s answers as well. “While you are going on that road trip next month, I’ll be volunteering at the local shelter.”
These speaking exercises not only give students the opportunity to practice using the future progressive and improve their overall speaking fluency and pronunciation.
In addition to speaking exercises, incorporating writing exercises into your lessons can also be a useful way to help your students practice using the future progressive.
One idea is to have students write short paragraphs or sentences using the future progressive to describe their plans for the future. For example, “I will be visiting my grandparents in Florida next month. I’m really looking forward to it!”
Another idea is to have students write a short story or narrative using the future progressive to describe the events that will be taking place. This can help them not only practice using the tense but also improve their overall writing skills.
Encouraging your adult ESL students to practice using the future progressive in speaking and writing exercises can help them get a feel for the tense and improve their overall communication skills.
Make a Game Out Of It
Games can be a great way to make learning the future progressive more enjoyable for your students. For example, you can create a matching game where students have to match the correct form of the future progressive with a given sentence. This can be done using flashcards or an online platform like Quizlet. Here are a couple of other ideas:
Future Progressive Tic-Tac-Toe: In this game, students have to use the future progressive to complete a sentence and get three in a row on a tic-tac-toe board. You could have the base form of a verb already visible in each square so that students know ahead of time what verb they need to use in their sentence to capture a square, or you could use numbers instead and only reveal the verb after they’ve chosen its corresponding number.
Future Progressive Snowman: In this game, students have to guess the correct missing future progressive form to complete a sentence before the snowman is fully drawn.
Games not only provide a fun and interactive way for students to practice using the future progressive but also add an element of competition that can be motivating for learners.
In conclusion, teaching the future progressive tense is an important aspect of helping adult ESL students improve their communication skills in English. By understanding and using the future progressive correctly, students can effectively express their plans, schedules, and future events, enabling them to participate more effectively in social and professional situations.
For a comprehensive grammar guide and accompanying worksheets, take a look at my Future Progressive Grammar resource.
It includes a printable version and a digital version that can be used with TpT’s Easel.
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