The beginning of a new year – and at the time of this article’s posting: a new decade – is a great time to resolve to do something better, or do something new. We call these ‘New Year’s Resolutions’, and they’re a wonderful opportunity for your class.

For one thing, you can talk about goals and self-improvement. For another, you get to practice grammar topics like Future Forms and Adverb Phrases/Clauses.


Set Your Goals

Have your students write down three to five things they’d like to start or improve on. For now, they can write them however they’d like, including fragments or bullet points. You may want to assign this as homework to give them time to think about it, then continue with the rest of the work during the next day.

If several of your students are having trouble, or if your class is unfamiliar with New Year’s Resolutions, you might want to start off with a brainstorming session.


Express Your Confidence

Once students have their ideas ready, they’ll need to decide how likely they are to accomplish each thing. This could reflect the extent of their motivation, or it could be conditional upon external circumstances. How confident they are for each goal will determine the grammar they need to express the future case.

If a student is ready to do what it takes to get the job done, they should use be going to. If not, they should use a modal of probability instead, like might. Or, if they’re trying to convince themselves to do it, they could use a modal of obligation, like must or should. If it’s something they can do immediately, they could use will. If they’re as confident as can be and have already made arrangements, they could even use the present progressive form.


Defend Your Goals

Ask students what their motivations are for each goal.

    • What is their reason for setting this goal? (This concept is backward-facing; what’s the cause?)
    • What is their purpose of this goal? (This concept is forward-facing; what’s the intended result?)


The answers to these could be expresses with adverbial clauses, or maybe adverbial phrases.

Students can just write down notes for now; they’ll put everything together at the end.


Be Specific

Achieving goals is more likely when the goals are specific. Next, students should add adverbs (individual words), adverb phrases, and possibly adverb clauses to express details.

Is there a deadline for each goal? Who will you do it with? In what manner will you carry it out (‘fervently’? ‘reluctantly’? ‘diligently’? ‘secretly’?). What might cause you to stop? Will it take place in a sequence?

Again, students can just write down notes for now.

Put It All Together

Finally, students should take all the ideas they’ve compiled and write a paper (between one and two pages) about their goals. Each goal should have its own paragraph, and all the ideas within a paragraph should be connected to each other. This can be done with complex sentences (those adverbial clauses) or by using transition words (adverbs) and phrases at the beginning of sentences (except the first sentence).

As usual, you may choose to have the students give a presentation at the end.

Hold on to the papers you’ve received. With your students’ permission, remind them of their goals at various points throughout this year, or at least this semester. Or perhaps simply have them read their own words every couple of months and let them decide for themselves how to be motivated.

Get more with Insider Access


Advanced Features in Student Projects

search and filter

planning info


Extra Video Content

more How-to-Teach grammar videos*

with intros, instructions, and summaries

*compared to free resources


Exclusive Supplemental Resources


posters & handouts

bonus notes


Family Feud

This project is for practicing ‘WH’ QUESTIONS. Students create the content for the game by writing questions. Next, they conduct a survey, and finally they get to play the game!

Read More »

You Know Me So Well

This project is for practicing QUESTION TAGS. Students play The Newlywed Game – except as friends – and instead of stating what they believe to be true, they’ll put it in the form of a question.

Read More »

The Inside Scoop

This project is for practicing PAST PERFECT. Interview someone who took part in or witnessed an interesting event, then write an article about it. Some of the details filled in should be in the Past Perfect form.

Read More »

Good Cop / Bad Cop

This project is for practicing INDIRECT QUESTIONS. Students will act as investigators asking witnesses for information. But some witnesses will only respond to Direct Questions, some only to Indirect Questions, and some only to Commands.

Read More »


Creating, administering, and reporting surveys can be a great way to practice a number of grammar points, such as question forms, expressions of preference, comparatives and superlatives, quantifiers, and reported speech.

Read More »

Crime & Justice

Re-enact a criminal case: craft the situation around a fictional robbery, conduct an investigation, and put on a mock trial. This project works best with multiple classes.

Read More »

Share This Post