Grammar girlfriend is my made up girlfriend that I use to tell stories to introduce language points. The idea is simple: your telling your students a story so there is a clear context for the language, it’s nice exposure for them to natural speech and story-telling and because it’s you and it’s “personal”, your students are much more engaged and invested than if it was written in a book or some random recording.
This is a very quick story that I use to examine how we express the future in English. Feel free to steal, adapt or just to take the basic idea of having a made-up grammar partner.
So my girlfriend (Actually my ex now) came home one day with a picture she’d bought at a market somewhere. She came in all happy and pleased with herself and tried to show me the picture. Now, I was playing Xbox so didn’t really pay much attention (maybe that’s why she’s now my ex). Anyway she asked me to hang the painting on the wall for her.
A few days later she comes home and there’s the painting lying against the wall where she left it. “David!” she says, “David! My painting!”.
Now at this point I have three things I can say to my girlfriend:
- Don’t worry, I’ll hang it tomorrow.
- Don’t worry, I’m going to hang it tomorrow.
- Don’t worry, I’m hanging it tomorrow.
At this point I display these three options on the board and explain that each of them is grammatically correct, each of them is possible in this situation and in each one the result is the same, the painting will be on the wall tomorrow but that each one gives my girlfriend different information.
The task for the students is to discuss each of them, decide what information each one tells her and which one I probably said.
- Don’t worry, I’ll hang it tomorrow. – I’ve only just decided about this and I hadn’t given it any thought before this moment.
- Don’t worry, I’m going to hang it tomorrow. – I thought about it before now and made the decision to hang it tomorrow.
- Don’t worry, I’m hanging it tomorrow. – Don’t worry darling, I thought about this before now, I’ve organised everything, I’ve bought a hammer and a nail and got my spirit-level out and all that jazz, it’s happening tomorrow…worry not my dear.
Above is the info you’re looking for from the students, and obviously the answer is number 3. This usually leads to a discussion about the future in English and how it’s all about what the speaker wants to express to the listener and by using “will” alone, the learners are limiting themselves. You could also look at the fact that I said 3 but 1 was probably the truth.