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ESL Future Continuous
Tips for Teachers

How to Teach the Future Continuous
to ESL/EFL Learners

The ESL Future Continuous tense (aka the Future Progressive) is one of three progressive (or continuous) verb tenses ESL students have to learn to master the English language. The other two are the Present Continuous/Present Progressive and the Past Continuous/Past Progressive.

This tense is a little more complicated for students, because it involves two concepts: (1) a progressive action, and (2) a point in time in the future. It's usually saved for intermediate ESL or EFL learners. However, most advanced English language learners also benefit from a review of the ESL Future Continuous.

As for all tenses, verb conjugation is only one part of the ESL or EFL lesson. The forms and the function(s) of the tense must also be taught. This article describes each of these components.

ESL Future Continuous Conjugation

There are two versions of the ESL Future Continuous. They are constructed as follows:

  • subject + will be + -ing or

  • be going to + be + -ing.

Conjugation of the first version is very easy. Only the subject changes. "Will be + -ing" stays the same no matter who or what the subject is.

Here are some examples using subject + will be + -ing.

  1. I will be talking. I will be walking. I will be dancing. I will be eating.

  2. You will be talking. You will be walking. You will be dancing. You will be eating.

  3. She/He/It will be talking. She/He/It will be walking. She/He/It will be dancing. She/He/It will be eating.

  4. They will be talking. They will be walking. They will be dancing. They will be eating.

  5. We will be talking. We will be walking. We will be dancing. We will be eating.

For be going to + be + -ing, the verb "be" in the first part of the formula must be conjugated to match the subject. The rest ("going to be + –ing") stays the same.

Here are some examples using be going to + be + -ing.

  1. I am going to be talking. I am going to be walking. I am going to be dancing. I am going to be eating.

  2. You are going to be talking. You are going to be walking. You are going to be dancing. You are going to be eating.

  3. She/He/It is going to be talking. She/He/It is going to be walking. She/He/It is going to be dancing. She/He/It is going to be eating.

  4. They are going to be talking. They are going to be walking. They are going to be dancing. They are going to be eating.

  5. We are going to be talking. We are going to be walking. We are going to be dancing. We are going to be eating.

ESL Future Continuous Verb Forms (five forms the ESL/EFL student must learn)

Here are the five forms of this verb tense ESL/EFL students must learn, along with examples of both versions.

  1. Affirmative Usage
      I'll be teaching ESOL next semester. / I'm going to be teaching ESOL next semester.

      You'll be studying English in the United States. / You're going to be studying English in the United States.

      She/He/It will be leaving soon. / She/He/It is going to be leaving soon.

      They'll be arriving at noon. / They're going to be arriving at noon.

      We'll be preparing lessons all night long. / We're going to be preparing lessons all night long.

  2. Negative Usage
      I won't be teaching ESOL next semester. / I'm not going to be teaching ESOL next semester.

      You won't be studying English in the United States. / You're not going to be studying English in the United States.

      She/He/It won't be leaving soon. / She/He/It is not going to be leaving soon.

      They won't be arriving at noon. / They're not going to be arriving at noon.

      We won't be preparing lessons all night long. / We're not going to be preparing lessons all night long.

  3. Yes/No Questions
      Will I be teaching ESOL next semester? / Am I going to be teaching ESOL next semester?

      Will you be studying English in the United States? / Are you going to be studying English in the United States?

      Will she/he/it be leaving soon? / Is she/he/it going to be leaving soon?

      Will they be arriving at noon? / Are they going to be arriving at noon?

      Will we be preparing lessons all night long? / Are we going to be preparing lessons all night long?

  4. Short Answers
      Yes, I will. No, I won't. / Yes, I am. No, I'm not.

      Yes, you will. No, you won't. / Yes, you are. No, you aren't.

      Yes, she/he/it will. No, she/he/it won't. / Yes, she/he/it is. No, she/he/it isn't.

      Yes, they will. No, they won't. / Yes, they are. No, they aren't.

      Yes, we will. No, we won't. / Yes, we are. No, we aren't.

  5. WH- Questions (for example)
      Why will I be traveling to Mexico? / Why am I going to be traveling to Mexico?

      When will you be teaching Future Progressive tenses? / When are you going to be teaching Future Progressive tenses?

      What will she/he/it be reading tonight? / What is she/he/it going to be reading tonight?

      Where will they be studying next year? / Where are they going to be studying next year?

      Who will we be meeting? / Who are we going to be meeting?



ESL Future Continuous Function

The Future Continuous (aka the Future Progressive) is used to talk about an activity that will be in progress at some time in the future.

Here are some examples:

    I will be vacationing in France next summer. / I'm going to be vacationing in Brazil the summer after next.

    You will be teaching adult ESL students tomorrow at 11 a.m. / You are going to be teaching adult ESL students tomorrow at 11 a.m.

    She will be eating dinner when I get there. / She is going to be eating dinner when I get there.

    They will be waiting for me at the train station when I arrive. They are going to be waiting for me at the train station when I arrive.

    We will be playing tennis at 5:30 a.m. / We are going to be playing tennis at 5:30 a.m.

Student Challenges with the ESL Future Continuous

The first possible challenge is the fact that there are two ways to express the ESL Future Continuous. I am always sure to present only one way at a time so that students have an opportunity to focus on and master each way individually.

The other challenge, or confusion, is that sometimes either the Future Continuous or the Future Simple can be used with very little or no difference in meaning.

Here's an example:

    "Don't eat too much. We'll eat dinner soon."

    "Don't eat too much. We'll be eating dinner soon."

Related Article

For a thorough discussion on how to teach all verb tenses, see my Teaching ESL Verb Tenses page.

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