Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Infographic lesson plan: Modals, futures & probability

On Sunday night as I was browsing for topics for this week's lessons with my professional adult ESL students here in France, I found the following infographic on the BBC website.

Original can be found here

I absolutely love infographics. I love them even more when they present a topic that I can cover in English class. There are so many possibilities for using the one I've posted here but I'll share my lesson plan with you which reviews modals & futures for talking about probability, likelihood and chance.

I did a 30-second review of modal verbs and the near future/distant future with my groups because these are topics we previously covered. Then I handed out the infographic and a "cheat sheet" introducing some expressions that I wanted them to try to use during the lesson including degree of probability and chance when giving their opinion.

After a few seconds, my adults started laughing a little bit to themselves. After everybody had showed some sign of comprehension, I started asking questions.

"What do you find funnny?"
"What do you find scary?"
"Does anything seem possible/impossible?"
"Do you agree/disagree with ...?"

And then the discussion started.

My advantage here that others might not have is that my students are western, and we work at a web agency. These topics are right up their alleys -- a bit sci-fi, a bit nerdy, some inspiring a dream or provoking an emotional reaction -- it was very easy to get them talking about these subjects. If your students work in a different field, you might try a generic Google search for infographics and try to see if something could fit their interests and needs. This one is just a perfect mix of grammar revision, discussion, and new vocabulary -- I was so pleased to find it!

Here's the "cheat sheet" I handed out to help facilitate the conversation:

Expressions for talking about likelihood and probability:
In general:
It could happen/ It might happen
If it happens, then…
It’s possible that…
There’s a chance…

Most likely (use of adverbs):
It’s extremely likely that…
It’s very possible that…

Least likely (use of adverbs):
It is highly unlikely that…
It’s nearly impossible that…
It will never happen
It could never happen
It should never happen

Future tenses:
1.        The near future : Planned & programmed (Present continuous or “going to”)
a.       I’m going to dance class tomorrow night.
b.      I’m pitching a proposal to a client on Thursday afternoon.

2.       The distant future: Uncertain, unplanned (Will)
a.       Maybe I will go to Spain on vacation this summer, or maybe I won’t.

3.       A snap decision: no time to think (will)
a.       The phone is ringing! Can you help me? – I’ll get it.
b.      I’m going to drop these boxes. Can you give me a hand? – I’ll help you.


  1. This is a great lesson Amber. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to try it out on my students.

  2. Let me know how it goes!! Happy teaching :)