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Christopher Graham

The return to a private language school class after a break can be an opportunity for
people to look forwards. This lesson takes this opportunity to explore ways of predicting
in English. At this level, most of this language will not be new, so the session is essentially
revision and consolidation with a high degree of content personalisation.
Segment: Adult/tertiary
Level: pre-intermediate – intermediate
Materials: handout, one envelope for each student
1. Begin by suggesting to students that a new term or semester at a language school can
be a time to look forward to.
2. Ask students individually to think about and write a list of five personal or work
events that may happen during the upcoming term or semester. They can be school or
non-school events. For example, ‘English exam’ or ‘business trip to head office’. Ask
students to compare their list with another student.
3. Give the students a copy of the handout , or write the sentences on the board.
4. Ask the students in groups to look at the eight sentences and discuss
a) any similarities and differences between the uses of ‘going to’, ‘will’, ‘may’ and
b) the use of the adverbs ‘hopefully’, ‘definitely’, ‘certainly’ and ‘probably’.
They should make any notes they need to. Remind them they have already studied
5. Ask each group of students to nominate a spokesperson to visit another group to
compare their ideas with their original group.
6. Choose two or three of these spokespeople to share their ideas with the whole class.
7. Ask the whole class to listen to you as you provide a brief summary on the board of
the key points. The points you should cover are:

Similarities Differences
going to, All four ‘will’ is used for less certain predictions, while ‘going
will, may & structures are to’ uses existing evidence such as “We’re going to visit
might used to make my grandparents on 14 February” where, for example,
predictions the date is known. ‘May’ and ‘might’ are very simi-
lar, but ‘might is used when the speaker is less certain
about the prediction as in, “I might do an IT course
this year, but I’m not sure”.

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Similarities Differences
hopefully, The adverbs are Hopefully and probably are the least certain.
definitely, used to make the Definitely and certainly are most certain.
certainly, predictions more
probably or less certain

8. Ask the students to work alone and write five one or two sentence predictions about
the new school year period, possibly but not necessarily, based upon the events
they wrote down in stage 2 above. For example, “I will probably start tennis lessons
in March”. At this stage, you should monitor and indicate any significant errors to
individual students for self-correction.
9. Ask each student to swap lists with one other student to peer-correct their work. In
particular, they should check the degree of certainty about the predictions.
10. Tell the students they should take their list and put it in an envelope with their name
on it and the last date of the new semester. They should then seal the envelopes and
give them to you.
11. In your last lesson of the new semester you can open the envelopes and see how many
predictions have come true.

Alternative One: For a very academic class, you could use English exam or test grades
for the predictions, but do be diplomatic at stage 11 of the lesson!

Alternative Two: If you work in a tertiary institution such as a university or college, you
could ask students to make predictions only about college or academic issues.

@ Oxford University Press PHOTOCOPIABLE

Look at the sentences below.
What are the similarities and differences between the uses of going to, will,
may and might and hopefully, definitely, certainly and probably?

1. I don’t know yet, but I might start piano lessons in the spring.
2. Hopefully I’ll pass my English exam.
3. We may get a new boss in summer.
4. I’m definitely going to be football team captain; I’m one of the best in the
5. We’re certainly going to visit my grandparents on 14 February.
6. I might do an IT course this year, but I’m not sure.
7. We’ll probably have a long holiday in the summer.
8. I may apply for a new job this year.

Similarities Differences
going to,
may &


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