What are the guidelines for usage of “will” and “is/are going to”?
I am an ESL teacher in Thailand at a business college. I have been plagued with the distinction between, "(be) going to " and "will" for the future tense. In my former life, I worked in IT and Telecommunications. My conclusions about any distinction(s) are the following:
1) Any distinction is not really grammatical, but more under the banner of usage 2) It is possible to communicate effectively in the future tense while using the two forms interchangeably.
There may be circumstances where one form is "more desirable" over the other, but both would seem grammatically correct. One book that the administration is forcing me to use at gunpoint, is a piece of feces titled "Interchange" published by Cambridge University Press. They represent the distinction between "will" and "going to" as a maybe and certainly with respect to plans. Baffling because I can not find any other references.
Considering the lack of competency in English of the average Thai speaker; myself as a native speaker who is not attentive to the distinctions but on occasion, does manage to effectively communicate and do so in a somewhat elegant manner — is it worth emphasizing the relative interchangeability of the two forms, rather than the minor distinctions in usage of the two forms. I say minor, because if the distinctions are not made, very effective and accurate communication by a non-native speaker is still able to be accomplished without drawing a distinction.
My concern being that the weight given to this relatively minor footnote in meaning (usage), is deceptive and may confuse rather enlighten anyone other than an expert non-native speaker.
This may seem rather trivial but could you weigh in on this?