Why and how we can/could, will/would, may/might/must, should/shall go out to teaching/learning grammar in an unprecedented, weird new world...
Competency Puzzle “Apply Grammar” Pieces D-06 through D-07: Move with Modals, Approach the Future
It “feels novel" to get back to regular blog posting. First, a look back before taking you forward in our determined purpose of delivering “how to” articles on various aspects A - J of Language & Content Teaching & Learning.
Here are the 10 major Puzzle Parts & Pieces most likely to fit together in a coordinated program of instruction. We’re set and ready to go on ways to "(D.) Apply Grammar.”
Coincidentally—or maybe just because all grammar—and language-skills or even subject-matter instruction—applies intuitively to ongoing world events and experience, it still makes sense to get how to teach/learn what we need to survive and move forward without gathering in large groups for face-to-face contact. So let’s get to it!
Competency Puzzle “Apply Grammar” Pieces D-06 to D-07: Move with Modals & Approach the Future
This article is the third installment of “How to Put Together Parts & Pieces That Make Language Work: 'Apply Grammar' Competencies D-00 through D-28.” Its focus is D-06 through D-07, “Modal Verbs & Related Expressions” and “the Future Time Frame.” Its individually downloadable segments address forms, patterns, and uses of a variety of verb-phrasing possibilities—both those based on modal verbs like can/could, may/might/must, etc. and those like be going to VERB or will be VERBing that express ideas about events or activity in the future time frame.
Following is commentary on material in these categories, including sample segments (some shortened) to download and use for (self-)instruction right away. There are also links to a number of complete Parts & Pieces. And each offering includes ideas on what to talk about in this pandemic world of limited movement but unlimited thought and language.
D-06.01 to D-06.11. Modal Verbs & Related Expressions:
At novice language-proficiency levels, the first modal verb that comes into use in introductory or casual exchanges is can—with its negative counterpart contraction can’t. This pair of short words conveys several basic meanings; language learners can use them to make/respond to requests, find out/tell what’s possible, and/or express their own and others (in)abilities. D-06.01: WorkLifeEnglish, Workbook 1: Life Skills, Chapter 3 (“Help”): Make & Answer Requests; Express Language Ability provides a 7-page immediately useable introduction to simple modal verb forms & patterns in statements, questions, & short answers.
And as soon as they’ve had practice in choosing and inserting words, putting sentence elements in order, and completing patterns containing one modal (can[’t]), quickly progressing beginners may be able to jump to the meanings of the most useful modal verbs: can/could, will/would, may/might, should/must.
Here in that regard is D-06.04: Chapter 3: Modal Verbs, “Transportation,” from WorkLife English Grammar 3: An Immigration Story, a four-part series of lessons that present and practice the functions of simple modal verbs and related phrases in articulating predictions, future possibility, permission, requests, desires, preferences, expectation, advice, warnings, and obligation. Its general subject matter, Transportation, includes sections on Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Kinds of Transport; Vehicle Ads; Features of Cars; Warranties; Traffic Rules; Tickets; Insurance, and more. While staying put or sheltering in place, it might generate “nostalgic fun” to acquire, reinforce, and share the grammar of modal-verb statements, questions, answers, and commentary in these moveable contexts.
Anxious about the new world disorder? Here in colorful presentations and chances to relate are the stories of Dr. Bonkers, Mrs. Angst, Timothy Timido, Wanda Worrywart, Max & Maxine, and others made crazy by our evolving world. They’re all part of coverage of Modal-Verb Phrases & Related Expressions in D-06.09: Chapter 17: “Help!” of the New Scenario: Beginning to Use English Grammar in Context.
Along with these absurd characters, you/your students can perform and commiserate with (the grammar of) a nervous Scenario, (re)view the elements of simple-modal sentence patterns (with short forms + equivalents), differentiate their precise functions or meanings in example-rich Sidebars, and “get some exercise.” There are contexts in which to identify relevant grammar, choose appropriate wording, insert vocabulary, assemble statements and questions (to match with responses), create conversations or commentary, paraphrase or substitute phrasing; and a lot more. The chapter ends with Modal Verbs & Related Forms Charts that sum it up. There’s a story to react to—before particpants progress to their own circumstances, exchanges, and solutions. Relax, enjoy, and put it all together!
As much as English speakers can accomplish with “Simple Modals,” each of which consists of a Modal Verb followed in sentences by a Base Verb (without grammatical endings), there are “more advanced” forms to consider. Predictions, guesses, deductions, advice, and hypotheticals involving action continuing at the present time can be expressed by the “Continuous Modals” (Modal + be + Verbing). Correspondingly, “Perfect Modals” (Modal + have + Past Participle), can signify completion of future activity; past (im)possibity or probability; past advice not followed; and/or hypothetical, contrary-to-fact past conditions.
Opportunity to get acquainted with, practice, become proficient in, and assess ability in use of all of these modal-verb forms, structures, meanings, and even connotations presents itself in D-06.06: Chapter 6: Modal Verbs, “Going Places,” from WorkLife English Grammar 5: Language & Culture in Depth. After perusing the Competencies + Grammar listings in the Chapter Opener, text users can take Pre-Tests comprised of amusing stories to correct (“Transportation Problems,” “The ‘Rules” of Bus Travel,” “Air-Travel Mistakes”); refer to Grammar Charts (pedagogy with examples / explanations titled “Simple Modal Verbs, Continuous Modal Verbs,” “Perfect Modal Verbs”); do guided practice exercises; and put it all together in summarizing sections.
It may be an ideal time to simulate “Going Places” with an especially substantial Grammar Topic. But it’s far from a “last chance.” For an array of Parts & Pieces addressing aspects of Modal-Verb phrasing, you might (later?) look what’s behind Puzzle Piece D: Apply Grammar at worklifeenglish. com. Go directly to those segments and products numbered D-06.01 to D-06.11. And if what you discover is still “not enough,” you can/could/may/might/must/should/had better go to other helpful texts or websites (remotely).
D-07.01 to D-07.10. Future Forms, Patterns, & Meanings
One of the modal verbs used most often is will + its negative counterpart won’t. This auxiliary verb is considered a modal because of its unchanging form before other base verbs, including be before VERBing in the “future continuous” and have before a past participle in the “future perfect.” In addition to requests and promises, will / won’t can appear in predictions of future events or activity. Even so, this two-word phrasing isn’t considered the “Simple Future,” which is a designation reserved for the am / is / are going to + Verb pattern.
D-07.01: WorkLifeEnglish, Workbook 1: Life Skills, Chapter 10 (“Fun”): Ask & Tell about Plans parallels the other units of material from Level 1 of the "WorkLifeEnglish Competency-Based Grammar" Strand in that it presents and practices only the most fundamental learning points of a newly introduced grammar topic. In the context of trying to make everyday plans or predictions, these pages will lead to proficiency in all forms of the “going to future” in affirmative and negative statements, yes/no & wh-questions, and answers. They’re suitable for yet another day spent on the phone at home, exchanging hopeful or realistic ideas about what to do or what’s (not) going to happen next.
What comes to mind when beginning students of English imagine thinking or talking about the future? Often, it’s the stereotype of a “Fortune-Teller with a Crystal Ball,” who’s about to have exciting, mystical foresight about a (paying) client’s fate or destiny. And since it’s a writer’s mission to please in these unpredictable times, here she is: Madam Muna serving Mrs. Hope, both using will/won’t + Verb and be going to + Verb phrasing to tell and ask about an entirely pleasing future.
To take part, just click on D-07.08: the New Scenario Book One: Beginning to Use English Grammar in Context, Chapter 16: The Future (“Telling the Future”). What you’ll download is a stereotypical Strip Story, Comprehension Checks, Grammar Charts & Sidebars, plentiful Practice Exercises, and an entertaining “Fortune-Telling Game” for use in what you wish to believe about your personal futures. They’re all designed for diversion and effectiveness in the acquisition of another major grammar topic, “The Future Time Frame.”
But the two main ways of expressing the future—be going to / will/won’t + VERB—aren’t quite enough for “serious analysis.” At some point in their language-learning progress, students of English are likely to want “the whole story”—in this case, all possibilities for verb + time adverb phrasing—to converse or write about events, actions, or conditions to come.
Skimming over Levels 2-5 of WorkLife English for now, here’s D-07.06: Chapter 5: The Future, “Science & Technology,” from WorkLife English Grammar 6 (Lessons 41-50): Issues & Answers. In 13 compact pages, the download offers almost all of the 10 subtopics that come to mind in conjunction with the the future time frame: Be Going to vs. Will; the Future Continuous vs. Simple Future Tense; Present Forms with Future Meanings; Future Possibility with if; Time Clauses; Be About to; the Future in the Past; the Future Perfect Tense; the Future Perfect vs. the Future Perfect Continuous Tense; the Future Perfect (Continuous) vs. the Simple Future (Continuous) Tense.
The Vocabulary of Future-Time Expressions is incorporated into the grammar pedagogy, practice exercises, and expressive activities. All that seems to be missing is unwieldy “future (in the past) continuous / perfect” forms like am / is / are / was / were going to be Verbing / have VERBed. But we can approach those in the future, can’t we? (Not.) And since the general subject matter or context of Chapter 5 is “Science & Technology,” text users can have fun or show off by updating past forecasts about “Computer Technology,” “A New Home Computer,” “Technical Courses,” “Business Machines,” “How to Buy a Small Computer,” “When Machines Break Down,” “Car Problems,” “Car Maintenance,” “Predictions for the Future,” and “Future Headlines.”
So the question current “history-in-the-making” brings to mind is “What in the world—or even the universe—is going to happen in the future?” Not only health + other front-line workers, scientists + other futurists, journalists + celebrities, politicians + officials, and leaders + helpers, but also just about all other human beings are speculating—with little confidence—on the answers or feasible solutions.
So finally, attached to this article is a comprehensive revision of D-07.10: Chapter 2: The Future Time Frame (“Life in the Future”) from the New Scenario Book Two: Continuing to Use English Grammar in Context. Starting with a balanced “lecture” about changes in work and other areas of life, its comprehension checks, pedagogy in Grammar Notes, illustrated supporting exercises, and starred (*) topics to contemplate offer a High-Intermediate to Advanced Level Overview of at least five ways to discuss (real or imaginary) eventualities. These verb-phrasing patterns and explanations are designated “Present Forms with Future Meanings,” “Be about to + Verb”; “Simple Future Statements, Questions, & Answers,” “Will / Won’t Statements, Questions, & Answers with Future Meaning,” “Future Continuous Statements, Questions, & Answers,” and “Uses of Verb-Tense Forms in the Future Time Frame.”
After guided practice with simulated realia, in cartoon strips with speech bubbles, and in balloons with blanks to fill, it’s time for everyone to “say what they really mean” in regard to “Life in the Future.” Referring to sample speeches and/or illustrated vocabulary cues on the topics of “Future Weather Forecasting & Control,” “Life on Other Planets & in Other Galaxies,” “Global Communications," “Medicine & Genetics," and “Everyday Life,” teachers, learners, and other (physically confined) humans can express conventional (often vocalized)—and/or their own views—on what’s to come—using correct grammar in fine style.
With six photo groupings relating to Education, Technology, Work, Transportation, Food / Drink, and Religion / Spirituality, participants can elaborate on their thoughts, ideas, conjectures, hunches, projections, prognoses, and/or visions about what will or won’t, is(n’t) about to, is(n’t) going to happen; about what will /won’t be occurring; and/or about what will / won’t have come to pass—in the immediate, near, in-between, distant, and even more far-flung future. That’s what most of us are doing anyway, aren’t we—in these uncertain times?