Complaining and Predicting

Making complaints.

The English are considered terrible at making complaints; they would much rather talk about it behind the back. Other nationalities don’t have our general hang-ups with confrontation so we need to teach them how to complain in English.

Simply, we apply all the rules to saying “no” politely. The concept of saying “no” is basically giving someone information they may not want to hear. Making a complaint is more or less the same: no one likes to have to deal with a complaint. So, we try to soften the complaint with the words I’m afraid and unfortunately. Because we feel uncomfortable having to complain about the soup being cold, we also add phrases like sorry to bother you and excuse me.

Guessing and predicting

We first introduce guessing to students, again, at elementary level.  We teach them to use the phrases maybe and perhaps. Later, we explain that in English we feel it is necessary to make sure the other person understands we are guessing and so, to make sure we are not held accountable, we add phrases such as It’s difficult to say, but I think… and I’m not sure, but my guess is…

Predicting is a little trickier because, similar to giving advice, the structure for making a prediction is used for something else that is more important. In English we use I think it will and it is going to. Both are normally used to express the future and that is how your students are first introduced to the structures. Because their use for expressing the future is so much more valuable to the students than being able to predict, we think it is important to not consider explaining prediction until we are absolutely sure they have complete understanding of how to use them for the future. 

To explain the strcutures, we show them that I think it will is used to explain a prediction based on opinion and it is going to is a prediction based on facts and / or information. It is still a prediction, it may not happen, but we have evidence to think it will. The best way to describe it is with the weather. If I say It will rain all next week, then I am making a prediction based on my feeling (about the time of year etc.). If I have seen the weather forecast, then I may decide to say it is going to rain next week.

Predicting is really important for people’s jobs because a lot of positions require people to forecast. Forecasting is basically a prediction based on facts!