Nina Loback is the Richmond Brazil’s Academic Coordinator for Language Schools. (You can read her complete biodata at the end of this post.)
If you had the chance to talk to the person you are going to be by the end of the year, would you take the opportunity? There is a free web tool that has been around for 16 years which allows you to simply send a letter to yourself at a deliberately chosen date in the future.
You send an email to FutureMe.org and they keep it until it is time for you to read your gem again, from 30 days to 50 years ahead. Your ‘time capsule’ email can be public, though anonymous, or private but you can’t edit the content or change the delivery date afterwards. No prior registration needed. All you have to do is write your self-addressed email, set the delivery date, choose public/private status, leave your email address and hit ‘Send to the Future’!
The most obvious use for the classroom is to work with student’s self-awareness of the learning process itself and to set English language related goals for the year to come or even personal ones. There are a few links to this kind of activity listed at the end of this post, but here is one with an ELT focus that can be used with beginner students upwards. You can download the worksheet here.
Activity type: writing; grammar practice.
Target language: present simple & adverbs of frequency; language learning and classroom related vocabulary.
Level: A1 upwards.
Classroom Time: 20-25 minutes.
Preparation: make one copy of the worksheet per student or show the activity with a projector or IWB.
Brainstorm activities involved in the language learning process and things students do in class. E.g. do homework, be silent, do the online extra activities.
Ask students to classify them into three categories: desirable; non-desirable; it depends.
Explain that they are going to write a letter to the person they will be at the end of the semester or year by using the model given. Remind them to be casual and to try to add funny remarks so that their future self is entertained when reading it. It helps if they use “I” to talk about the present self and “you” to talk about the future self.
Dear Future Me,
How are you?
I study English with ________________. (teacher’s name)
I usually ___________________. I sometimes _______________. I never __________________.
I __________________________ but I want to stop. (something you don’t want to do anymore)
I hope we are successful!
If students work on their cell phones or on a PC, they should copy and paste the text to Future Me. If they write it on paper, they need to type it. Alternatively, this last step can be done as homework if you don’t have access to an internet connection or appropriate hardware in class.
Variations and other suggestions
More complex language can easily be incorporated so that you add challenge for more advanced students. For instance, ask them focus on what they will have accomplished and to start sentences with ‘by the time’, provoking them to use the future perfect tense.
- Send a public letter with predictions for 2018 to be read at the end of the year, which gives them the opportunity to practice future tenses. Example topics:
- Next president of Brazil.
- World Cup winner in Russia.
- Guessing Meghan Markle’s wedding dress details.
- World War III beginning.
- Practice question formation by asking questions to your future self.
- Give your future-self advice. Use relevant language for it, such as “should” and “if I were you”, “you’d better”, according to the student’s level.
- http://lettertomyfutureself.net/write-letter (this one allows you to send an email only one week into the future)
- Google Calendar (no time limits)
Nina Loback is the Richmond Brazil’s Academic Coordinator for Language Schools. She has a degree in Languages (UEPG/PR/BR), holds a CPE, TKT and is an ICELT holder. She has taught adults, teenagers and children for 10 years and is a frequent speaker at conferences. She is an advisory council member of BRAZ-TESOL Curitiba Regional Chapter and co-founder of Voices Sig for Women.
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