Tip: Here is my boardwork for when I review the modal verb ‘will’.
1 Talking about actions and events in the future:
I think I’ll probably visit my parents at the weekend.
I don’t think I’ll be able to join you tonight.
I probably won’t be at the conference this year.
Without words like ‘I think’ and ‘probably’ it becomes a fact:
I’ll be 38 next year.
I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.
2 Promises (very useful on the phone)
I’ll find out what’s going on and call you back.
I’ll confirm the details by email.
Don’t worry, I won’t forget.
3 Instant (spontaneous) decisions
I’m going that way – I’ll give you a lift.
It’s hot in here. I’ll open the window.
No, I won’t call her now, I’ll wait till this evening.
4 Requests and offers (with ‘you’)
Will you help me with this?
Will you send me a copy of the agenda?
Will you join us for dinner tonight?
Will you have another beer?
In my two-week courses I like to touch on grammar by means of short ‘reviews’. I have a standard verb-tense review lesson that I usually give towards the end of the first week, and I find that after verb tenses the next most asked for (and needed) review area is modals.
I’ll post on other modals in the future, but above I’ve given my simple boardwork summary of will. I’ve deliberately kept away from listing all the uses of will – if the students can produce will at least for the contexts above then I’m happy.
I use this review as a 20 minute ‘filler’ in a lesson. I write the above text on the board, and then ask for more example sentences from the group (which I also write up). Then I drill some of the phrases, focussing on the contraction.
It’s non-obvious by the way. I have two of my favourite dictionaries open in front of me as I write (Macmillan Essential and Longman Active Study) and neither mention promises or instant decisions.