Back to the Future: Lesson Activities

Back to the Future: Lesson Activities

Back to the Future Day was a real-life event that was celebrated on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, across the globe. It commemorated the day to which the main characters of the movie travelled in the time machine at the beginning of “Back to the Future Part II”. Why not talk about future in the lesson?

What will the future bring? What kind of changes will our cities/environment go through and will it be possible to travel in time? All these questions are very triggering and it is quite possible to discuss them during a common English class. 

In this article, we have prepared several interesting activities which revolve around the concept of “future” and will enable the students not only to practice future tenses but also speculate about possible changes in the future. 

Activity 1 – Back to the Future

This role-play is based on a very famous movie “Back to the Future”. Before the role-play ask students to watch the short trailer and remember the plot of the movie. After that. you can check open class or ask students to retell the plot in pairs. 

Then students role-play the following scenario: 

One person travels back in time to when his or her parents were in high school (the time that they fell in love). Two other students play the parents who are no longer in love with each other because of their time travelling child. The student who travelled back in time must convince the two others to get together by telling them about their future. The parents ask questions about the future and say what they think will happen – either agreeing or disagreeing with their child. The discussion continues until the time traveller can get the parents back together and make them fall in love with each other. 

For more lesson ideas on this movie follow the link.

Activity 2 – Makeover 

Students do a role play when one of them is a stylist and the other is a celebrity. The stylist describes what kind of makeover he/she has in mind for the upcoming important event. The celebrity doesn’t agree with the stylist’s suggestions and explains why (“It is going to be a very old-fashioned style”, “It will make me look older”, “Plastic surgery will damage my health”). The stylist, on the other hand, tries to convince the celebrity why his suggestion will be perfect for him/her. The discussion continues until one of the parties can convince the other or until none of them is ready to give in. 

Activity 3 – What Future Holds

Students work in small groups and discuss questions referring to the future. 

Examples of questions: 

About myself:

  1. What will you do after this class?
  2. What will you do this weekend? 
  3. How will you use English in the future?
  4. What is something that will happen in the future that you are looking forward to?
  5. Do you want to get married? When will you get married? 
  6. Will you have children? 
  7. What will life be like when you are 40?
  8. How do you think you will change in the future?
  9. Where will you be and what will you be doing in 10 years?

About the world: 

  1. How will you change the world?
  2. What will cities be like 50 years from now? Think about how these will change: Transportation, Pollution, Buildings, Work, Shopping, Nightlife. 
  3. Will humans ever meet aliens? What will the meeting be like?
  4. Will computers ever take over the world?
  5. Will we be able to add machines to our body to improve it in the future?
  6. How will fashion change in the future?
  7. When will humans live on another planet?
  8. What other things will change about life in the future?

To make it more fun, you can ask students to make general questions and find out the answers to them using a Magic Ball, Rolling Ball Decision Maker or Coin Flipper

After finishing the discussion part each of them comes up with a sentence about what their life will be like  5 years from now.


Activity 4 –  Perfect Vacation

Ask students to work in pairs, choose a country and plan a weeklong visit for the entire class to that country. Each pair should think of accommodations, meals and activities. Ask to browse real websites: Booking.com, Airbnb.com Tripadvisor.com. Then each pair gives a classroom presentation on their plans and sticks their plan poster on the wall. Then students vote on the one they would choose. 

Activity 5 – Fortune Telling

This activity works great with different age and level groups. The teacher distributes a set of cards to each pair of students. One student chooses several cards, turns them up. looks at the picture on the card and tells something that will happen to the partner in the future. The other student agrees or disagrees with the prediction by explaining why it might or might not happen. Then they change their roles. 

You can use these fortune-telling cards but you need to cut out the written predictions on them. 

Activity 6 – Fighting against  the Pollution 

The class is divided into two teams. Half of the class plays the role of activists, the other half plays the role of big company representatives whose company is polluting the nature by its business activities. Activists approach the company representatives and try to persuade them to stop their damaging activities by explaining how it will affect the environment (“We will have more polluted air”, “The number of plants around the factory will be reduced”, etc ). The company representatives, on the other hand, explain how changing company practices will negatively impact their company (“We will spend more money on the transportation of the garbage to another place”, etc). The discussion ends when one of the parties gives in.

Activity 7 – Time Travelling 

Time travelling is one of the things which always keep people curious about. Here you can find nice ideas on how to deliver an interactive lesson on travelling in time. 

Activity 8 – Letter to the future 

After the students have covered the future tense, the teacher may assign them to write a short letter to the future (he/she chooses a near future to have the opportunity to read the letter). An example of the letter may be: What will I have learnt by the end of the course? What am I going to do after the course is finished?). When the mentioned time comes you can give the letters back to students to see if their predictions have come true.  

Future seems so mysterious and appealing at the same time. These nice activities designed around the concept of future will encourage students not only practice the future tenses but also develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills through the suggested role-plays. 

Which of these activities will you try with your students?

Лиза Мардоян

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