Bucket List

By the end of this year, how many times will you have used future perfect?

PRACTICE:

  • future perfect simple
  • future perfect continuous / progressive
  • asking follow-up questions

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Upper-intermediate learners and stronger (CEFR B2-C2)
  • Ages 15 years and older

THE RUNTHROUGH:

Certainly in our staff room, using the future perfect naturally in a conversation is a big deal. “By the end of this semester, I’ll have been teaching Proficiency for 3 years straight. Yes! That’s my quota of future perfect  done for the year then!”.  This is usually followed my much cheering, fanfare and applause.

So let’s be honest, these particular tenses aren’t what we call high frequency, are they?  So how can we expect students to practice them in any meaningful way?  Look no further! Bucket List is the answer to this particular ELT pickle.

You will need:

  • One handout per student (the .pdf below contains 12).  Fold these handouts so the Conversation Bingo table is not showing.
  • 20-25 minutes.

This activity is best used as a freer practice activity after having focussed on the form and meaning of future perfect simple / continuous.  There’s also a bit of pronunciation to look at first, especially the weaker forms of “I will have”.

  1. Ask the students if they’ve ever hear of a bucket list.  There was a film (quite a good one IMHO) with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  If not then you can always show them the above trailer to get an idea of what a ‘bucket list is.
  2. Ask them to think about things that they’d put on their bucket list.  What about more every-day things they’d like to achieve in life.  Elicit some ideas, but don’t board them or focus on them in any great detail.  It will be important that the class have a number of different items.
  3. Explain that they are going to write down some of these ideas, especially connected with when they think they will have done them.
  4. Issue each student with a folded handout (so the Conversation Bingo table is hidden).  Ask them to make notes about what will be finished and what will be in progress at each of the points in their table.  Tell them they only need to write in 8-10 boxes, but they should make sure they have a number of ‘in progress’ and ‘finished’ boxes.  They only need to write notes and not full sentences.
  5. Give students 4-5mins to write.
  6. Ask them to stand and to take a pen.
  7. Ideally, use a board to show the necessary question stems: “What will you have done …” and “What will you have been doing …”.  The stems are completed by whichever time period the enquirer wishes.
  8. Tell the students that they are going to mingle and ask each other some questions.  They can ask about whatever time period they like, because their objective is to collect information which is connected to their Conversation Bingo topics.  Each person gets to ask 2 questions: an initial one (featuring a future perfect tense) and a sneaky follow-up question.  The follow-up question needs to be specially phrases to elicit some information from the person which is connected to one of their 4 topics on their bingo cards.  Example: Student A: What will you have done in 30 years time?  Student B:  I’ll probably have retired by then.  Student A: (thinking of the ‘Building’ topic on their conversation bingo card) Oh really? And where do you think you’ll be living, with family? Student B: Well, I hope to retire to a nice house in the country. Student A: Bingo!
  9. Student must note down any information that they hear.  Once a student has relevant notes next to all four topics, they shout “Bingo” and the game ends.
  10. For feedback, elicit one fact about each student.   This encourages students to use third person forms and also allows them to reflect on the task.

BEAR IN MIND:

  • Some students can struggle with ideas of what to write.  If you know that your class has some less creative individuals, then add an extra stage in between stages 2 and 3 where you elicit general topics: i.e. personal achievements, family, work, awards, discoveries, projects, etc.  Then students can use this as a checklist of things they’d like to achieve in life.
  • It can take students a little while to get the hang of the while Conversation Bingo idea.  So it’s best to demo this a couple of time until they get it.
  • Some students have said that this activity is a little morbid, but I always try and re-frame it as a self-actualisation task.  Often we get stuck in our routines and we forget about our greater ambitions.  Viewed from this angle, it’s inspiring not depressing!

ROUNDUP:

Bucket list is perhaps a quite challenging, but it presents a realistic and relatively natural context for this low-frequency language point.  It has lots of scope for personalisation and the Conversation Bingo element adds a little competition and reason to listen more carefully.  This particular activity can also be useful as some learner training for those classes who don’t tend to listen to one-another in discussion tasks, because it trains them to ask follow-up questions.  I’ve found it’s worked really nicely in the past.  Give it a try!

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