Sunday, 13 February 2011

15 fun activities to practice will for predictions

Original Idea: Alex Case

1. Video predictions
Stop the video as something is about to happen and see if students can predict what it will be, such as what the character will see when they enter the room or who will end up killing who. Make sure that you only need to watch a short segment to find out if their predictions were right or not, for example watching just the beginning and end of a film. If you choose the right video, it is possible to do the “stop and predict, watch to check, stop and predict” sequence over and over again as the video goes on. Short comedy sketches with little dialogue such as the Mr Bean series, Pingu, or the Wallace and Gromit films are easiest for this. If your students are unlikely to come out with their own predictions, you can ask them to choose them from the options you give them orally or from a worksheet. Be careful that the place where you stop the video is not a situation when there is clear physical evidence of what is going to happen such as a vase that is leaning over, as it is more natural to use “going to for predictions with present evidence” (e.g. “The vase is going to fall on the floor and break”) for such situations.

2. Jigsaw video predictions
You can add more speaking to the task above by sitting half the students with their backs to the video screen. The partner of each person describes what is happening in the video (which has the volume down to zero), and then when the teacher stops the video the person not watching has to choose which of the things written on their worksheet (which the person watching the film doesn’t have) will happen next. Their partner who is watching then watches the next part of the video to check whether their prediction was correct or not, and can then tell their partner.

3. Predict the whole video
This video activity is similar to the ones above but with students predicting the order of events from the worksheet, feeding back with “We think he will clean his teeth before he gets dressed” etc and then watching to check.

4. Predict the story
Similar activities to those with videos suggested above can be done with written or recorded stories cut into segments, with the places where students stop and make their predictions carefully chosen so that there is an interesting cliff-hanger where it is possible, but maybe difficult, to predict the outcome.

5. Classroom changes predictions
One student closes their eyes while the other students make three changes to the classroom set up such as closing the blinds and changing seats. The student predicts what they will see once they open their eyes, e.g. “When I open my eyes two people will be outside the classroom”. Note that sentences like “Two people will be sitting on the teacher’s chair” are also likely to come up as the basic use of the Future Continuous is also for making predictions, so make sure you only use this game with classes you are prepared to explain that grammar to. A variation that avoids this grammar is to get students to write down predictions of what will happen during a certain period of class time, e.g. “in the next five minutes” or “before the end of this lesson”, such as “At least one person will sneeze” and then keep an eye out for which came true.

6. Prediction songs
Quite a few songs include will for the future, including I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, but if you are only doing predictions make sure other meanings such as spontaneous intentions and promises aren’t involved in the song. There are many fun and useful ways of using songs in adult classes, so many that it would take a whole other article to explain them all!

7. The past/ present/ future game
Students give some information about themselves without using a full sentence, e.g. “two children”. Their partner has to guess if it is something that happened in that person’s past, is true in the present or is about that person’s picture of their future. As the next stage up in difficulty, students can then do the same but go on to guess the whole true sentence for their partner, e.g. “You were one of two children” for the past, “You have two children” for the present, or “You would like to have/ will have two children” for the future. As you can see from the example, it isn’t possible to limit students to just predictions in the future (see the variation below for that), but this can be a good freer stage after controlled practice of “will for predictions” or as a lead in to explaining the differences between the various future forms.

8. The wish/ plan/ arrangement/ prediction game
A variation on the game above is to make all the sentences about the future, but with students guessing if their partner’s thing is an arrangement they have already made, a plan they have in their heads (such as an ambition or career plan), just a wish they have, or a prediction they are making. They can then go on to try and make true sentences about their partner with the correct future form.

9. Market predictions
Students predict what will happen to stock and/ or commodities prices and then check what really happens either from information the teacher collected before or by checking the real market changes up to the next lesson (or by the end of the lesson if there is internet in the classroom). A more fun alternative is to get them to bet pretend money on their predictions as a kind of stock trading game (as is included in several Business English textbooks including Business Matters). Alternatively, if you just ask them to decide together on which things to buy, they should use “will” naturally in their discussions.

10. Other graphs and trends activities with “will”
If you tell students that the graphs you give them are partly or totally about the future, e.g. by drawing the last part of the graph with a dotted line to show that it is just someone’s idea, they should use “will” when doing activities such as pairwork spot the difference activities. More suitable activities for will for trends are described in my separate article on on the topic of fun trends language games.

11. Other negotiation activities
If you give students the right kind of information or functional language when setting up other kinds of negotiations they should also use “will” to emphasize their negotiating position, using sentences like “You are right about oil prices being low now, but we are sure they will rise soon and so make plastics more expensive”.

12. First conditional games
If students bring up predictions in negotiations, they are also likely to use the first conditional in sentences such as “If the price of oil goes up, the exchange rate against the dollar will drop and so prices of our products won’t need to go up”. This common use of the first conditional is basically an example of “will for predictions”, and maybe one that students will be more familiar with than “will” without an if clause. This means the many fun games for the first conditional such as chain stories can also be tied in with lesson on “will for predictions”, but please note that there are other meanings of the first conditional such as the promises meaning of “If you give us a 5% discount, we will order more” that is used in negotiations more often than the predictions meaning.

13. What am I predicting?
Students predict the future of one thing and the other students guess what they are talking about, e.g. “They will get wider but thinner, and then they will eventually become 3D” for “televisions”.

14. Fortune telling
Activities such as palm reading and Chinese horoscopes are included in many TEFL books such as Reading Games, and although there can be a confusion of tenses (does seeing a line on someone’s hand count as present evidence and so give you the confidence about their future to use “going to”?) this does make the predictions/ hopes/ plans/ arrangements distinction quite clear and can also bring in other skills such as reading. One variation that can be done with authentic texts is to read out horoscopes from last week and get students to guess which one is about them. They can then write similar ones and check next week if any came true. Even less preparation and materials is needed for “Delphic Dictionary”, where students choose three words at random from a dictionary and their partners make up a story about their future from those three words, e.g. “You will discover COPPER in your back garden and become WEALTHY, but it will poison your water and so you will grow a LUMP on your back like the Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

15. Predict my partner’s weekend
Students write down their predictions about what their partners will do in the next week and then check next week which ones actually happened. For example, students tell their partners their hopes, plans and arrangements for the weekend and they guess which ones which actually come off and which ones probably won’t come to fruition.

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