Teaching English futures can be quite a hassle. As in levels A2-B1 students are expected to know three forms of future (will-future simple; going to; and present continuous in its future meaning) explicitly – implicitly including present simple in its future meaning – I have experienced that students encounter various problems connecting (verb-) form to use. On the level of Berufsmaturität (1st semester – lower B1) I therefore use the concept of comparative grammar to establish a solid form/use distinction.


The use of L1 is established, as T will explain the exercise in Swiss German. In groups SS are asked to establish real world examples of future use(s) in Swiss German. T coaches the distinct difference between (future) verb form and (future) use. (10’-15’)

The groups provide their examples. Correctness of use is established in a democratic process (“Would you actually say this in real life?”). T notes down one example each for will-future simple, going to future and, if provided, present simple in its future meaning. I personally do not order the contributions because SS then sometimes assume that will-future is “further away from present”. (10’)

With the three to four examples and enough space for an English translation in between T and SS try to establish the difference in meaning (or use) in these examples. T notes down keywords which should be as close as possible to the English: general prediction; plan; schedule. (5’)

Together with SS the sentences are now translated to English demonstrating the similarity in form and the complete unity in use between Swiss German and English (this does not work with standard German). T may now add: will future: instant decision/polite answer; going to future prediction in the near future and present continuous in its future use – though I think this rather covers an upper intermediate syllabus. (Time: open)

Exercises to be used ad libidum.

Please note that on the example below I have used the wrong color in the “use/meaning” column.

futures with L1