Photo by Livy Vargas, © All Rights Reserved

A designer lessons ESL lesson plan developed by George Chilton

Here’s one for higher level teens – non-tech, and very centred on the students. It could be used for Business English, one-to-one and General English classes equally well, though you may just need to tweak the lead-in a little.  It’s often difficult to provide a context for teaching future continuous and perfect grammar forms outside of a course book and this lesson will allow you to do that with (almost) zero preparation. This lesson should both be challenging and engaging for your students – as it looks at both tenses and focuses on the students’ favourite subject – themselves (!). The first part of the lesson focuses on their future plans and aims to practise the future continuous. The second part of the lesson looks at the future perfect and concentrates on a letter writing activity.

Lesson aims:

  • Future Perfect
  • Writing
  • Expressing preferences
  • Discussing hopes and dreams.

Stage one -Warmer

Graffiti Wall

The graffiti wall is something I love to do with my teens classes because it gets them out of their seats and allows you to talk to students individually as they work. It’s an interesting way to break up the rhythm of the class. The idea is that each member of the class walks around the room answering questions written on sheets of paper stuck to the walls. It feels different and changes the energy in the room, so it generally appeals to teens. For larger groups get students in work in pairs or threes. It’s also a handy activity to have up your sleeve if you need to break their concentration, stop them chatting, or to grab their attention and focus on a new activity.

In this case, you’ll need 10 or so (depending on the number of students in your class) questions to ask relating to the students’ futures. They could be general or specific, so long as they’re open-ended.

As the focus of the lesson is future continuous and perfect, throw a few in examples of these without expecting the students to be perfect  themselves when they respond. Make sure to include some interesting graphics and pictures that relate to the question – the pictures should have the aim to both improve the aesthetic and aid with comprehension – unlike the otter you are about to see.

Bear in mind that the students don’t necessarily have to write in full-sentences as the idea here is to generate interest and start a conversation. You’ll focus on this later. As a hint, try to think about your students’ interests and write the questions according to these.

Source: Internet

Will you be wanting some ice, Sir?

Here are some to get you started:

  1. What age would you like to leave home and why?
  2. Would you like to go to university? If so what would you like to study?
  3. Ideally, where will you be living in 5 years time?
  4. Would you like to get married? When?
  5. How many children will you have, if any?
  6. What job will you be doing when you’re 25?
  7. Which countries will you have visited by the time you are 24?

Get your students to answer the questions as best the can, collect the sheets and read out some of their answers, find out which student said what and get them to explain further.Try to have every student speak, especially focusing on the weaker ones.

Stage two – Future continuous timeline

Ask the students to get into pairs and discuss the things they would like to achieve in the future. Tell them that they should focus on the next 10 years of their lives.

When I’ve done this, I’ve encouraged them to mind map their ideas. After they’ve considered their answers together, model an example of a timeline on the board – starting at your current age and stretching 10 years into the future.

I usually ask the students to draw the timeline in their notebooks, but if you want to you could opt to have them do it online – there are several timeline generators listed here on Squidoo.

Get your students to do the same – they’ll come up with something like this:

My Future Self

Take my end of school exams
Graduate and leave home
Travel around the world
Age 16
Age 21
Age 23
Age 18
Age 22
Age 25
Start my degree in mathematics
Save up some money
Buy my own castle
Created on teach-nology

Stage three – guided production

Now you’re going to be focusing on the future continuous. I find it best not to introduce the grammar yet, but rather to elicit the correct form orally. Use the timeline you made on the board to model an answer:

When I’m 16 I will be taking my final exams.
when I’m 18 I’ll be starting university.
When I’m 23 I’ll be travelling around the word.

Example student teacher conversation –

T: What will you be doing when you’re 18 years old?

S: I am start my degree

T: “Am” is for the present, what do we add to BE to show we mean “in the future”

S: Will.

T: What will you be doing when you are 18?

S: I will be start my degree.

T: How do we show something is continuous or a process?

S: Verb + ing

T: So what’s the answer: What will you be doing when you are 18?

T: I will be starting my maths degree.

Go around the group and put students on the spot. Encourage them to self-correct and write their correct answers on the board. For this section I like to pick weaker students in order to iron out their mistakes. Get your students to ask each other the question –

What will you be doing when you are x years old?

Get them to do this in pairs. Monitor and write down any mistakes. Correct on the spot if it’s repeated.

Write their errors on the board and ask the classes to correct the sentences.

Now elicit the structure of the future continuous –


Subject + will + be + verb + ing


Subject + will + not + be + verb + ing

+ when / while / in / at + clause.

They should practice by writing some examples sentences of the future continuous – you can get the class to working in small groups  (up to 5 ) – and write what each of their classmates will be doing at various ages. Monitor and offer on the spot correction.

For example, in this rather mixed-nationality class:

Maribel – “Eduardo will be travelling when he is 19.”

Eduardo – “Maribel will be studying medicine when she is 21”

Bea  – “Hyun Ju will be leaving high school when she is 18”


Part two –

Stage four, Future Perfect – Letter to future self.

This could be done as part of a homework, on a blog or in the class. However you do it, it needs to be set up in the classroom.

Point the students in the direction of your example timeline. Ask the following question:

What will I have completed by the time I am 25 years old?

Give them some examples orally

I will have taken my high school exams.

I will have finished my university degree.

I will have left home.

Write the following on the board:

Subject + will + have + past participle +clause+ by the time + clause

Ask your students to write down the structure and write examples using your example timeline shown on the board.

Elicit the purpose of the tense – (to  show a complete action before a point in the future)

Are the actions completed now? At what point will I have completed my university degree? At what age will I have travelled around the world?

Homework follow-up

This works particularly well on a blog, if you have one set up, if not paper works just as well!

Have the students write a letter to their future selves  10 years in the future –

  • Describing themselves now
  • Their ambitions for the future
  • Explaining what they hope to have achieved

Dear Han Su,

I am 15 years old…etc I would like to study maths at university and by the time I am 25 I will have graduated from university with a mathematics degree. I want to travel around the world, by the time I am 23 I will have done this.

And so on. If you want to be super-prepared, write your own and read it to them as a model.

I swiped the otter from Voxy’s facebook page  – send your students their way and get them involved in some self-study!

Creative Commons Licence
Designer Lessons by George Chilton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.