Sometimes we need a lesson on the fly, and we need it to be straightforward and effective.  It’s part of the job, that time is against us, and we simply can’t prepare an intricate ESL lesson with many stages and activities that suit all the methodology we were taught in our teacher-training courses. It happens. So here is an idea that has served me well, time and time again and that has plenty of potential to build on for a follow up lesson.  You can speed it for an hour lesson or take your sweet sweet time (milk it) for a couple of lessons.  Either way, students will benefit greatly from it and best of all, you can use it for pretty much any level from intermediate to proficiency students.

The future is a topic covered in every course book you will use for your lessons because it relates to a tense.  Additionally, it can cover lots of fantastic topic-vocabulary on technology in particular.  Here are some other topic vocabulary themes:

  • Energy and the Environment
  • Space Exploration
  • Transport
  • Family Values
  • Food

This is just a taste, and all have some association with technology in general, but you can zoom in and focus on one of these if you feel that it is more relevant to your students.  Depending on their age and level of English you can complicate your lesson plan a bit by looking for reading materials, images, videos etc. that will make the lesson even more engaging.  Obviously, any innovative aspect you can incorporate in this lesson plan would be great.  But we will get to that later.

The lesson I use requires no materials however.  Here it is:

  • Computers will take over the world.
  • Time travel will be possible.
  • We will find life in other solar systems.
  • Babies will be genetically modified.
  • Unintelligent clones will do all the hard work.
  • Disease will be eliminated.
  • People will live on Mars.
  • A comet will wipe out life on Earth.
  • We will learn how to travel at the speed of light.
  • English will be the only language in the world.
  • There will be no more war.
  • Everyone will live to be 200.
  • The environment will be destroyed.
  • Everybody will be dark skinned.

Dictate a prediction to each student and ask them to write it down.  Ask students to mingle and collect the other students’ opinions on their prediction.  Ask them to note their answers.  After students have surveyed the whole class, elicit the results and write them on the board. Done!

Easy right?  In the elicit stage, students get to use reported speech and practice speaking using some topic-vocabulary related to their prediction.  You could pre-teach some of the basics in advance if you’d like.  Comment on your students discoveries and get some reactions from the class on certain topics, it could easily lead to a discussion based on the overall results of the survey.  Depending on the level ask students to justify their opinions.  The higher the level, the more sophisticated the vocabulary.  If you think that some of the predictions are not appropriate then change them as you see fit or add a few more if you have a bigger class.

This lessons idea works because students are communicating with each other in pairs, forming appropriate questions, listening for answers, taking notes or paraphrasing responses etc. So there are a lot of language skills being activated here.  Teachers can monitor the students while they are mingling and correct afterwards.  As a follow, up you can ask students based on the discussion from class, to write a short essay on one of the predictions.  Encourage them to do additional research at home on the internet to add more substance to their work.

Alternatively, you can follow this activity up with a time capsule lesson. I won’t go into details because I’m sure you can come up with the rest but it ties into the predictions and using future tenses when deciding what to put into the time capsule.  If you want to use Padlet, you can prepare a collage of pictures depicting some future predictions and ask students to discuss each (warm up).  Give them access to the Padlet and ask them to post some responses to the photographs using future tenses.

Finally, if you have a smaller group of adult students who just want conversation practice all you need to do is put these predictions on slips of paper put them in pairs or groups of three and ask them to discuss each, one by one.  Once they are done, you can conduct feedback on which are most/least likely to occur, make it relevant by mentioning some areas where we are seeing great innovation already: genetic modification in food and animals, robots being used more and more in industry and society etc.  Elicit responses.  That should get you an hours-worth of conversation.  This one is a keeper peeps, students always enjoy it, hope you do as well.

He shoots for 3, Swoosh! 🙂

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