How To Teach Tenses

The English language is difficult to learn due to its large number of tenses.The key to teaching verb tenses is to simplify the process and connect it to their everyday experiences.The time frames that are easy to grasp are the past, present, and future.

Step 1: Provide an overview of the tenses.

You can draw a grid on the board to identify the tenses you’ll be teaching.Write “Past,” “Present,” and “Future” along the top of the grid, and fill in the 9 grid boxes with examples from “Perfect.””Perfect continuous” and “future with ‘going'” are two of the more than 9 verb tenses in English.The basic 9 is a good starting point for the 16 tenses that others claim are actually 16.A grid can be used to introduce 16 verb tenses in an advanced class.

Step 2: The present is a single time frame.

Pick one of the 3 time frames and focus on it.The present time frame is often the easiest for students to comprehend.I have watched perfect, I watch simple, and I am watching continuous.This runs counter to methods that focus on the simple past, simple present, and simple future at once.The assumption is that students are better able to follow along when you stay in a single time frame.You tend to stay in the same time frame when you tell a story.

Step 3: Discuss the tenses in relation to each other.

For example, describe the similarities and differences between eating and having eaten.Each of the 3 references something that continues to be true in the present moment.It means something you do frequently across time frames.It means something is happening in the present moment.Have you eaten something that remains relevant?

Step 4: As you move onto the other 2 time frames, incorporate frequent reviews.

As you advance from one time frame to the next, make sure to review previously-covered time frames and tenses.The connections are reinforced across time frames.If you’re talking about will walk, will be walking, and will have walked in the future, related these to “walk,” “am walking,” and “have walked.”

Step 5: A timeline that emphasizes past, present, and future is what you should begin with.

Many other languages don’t use as many different tenses as English does.Your students will be familiar with placing and describing actions in the past, present, and future if you draw a simple timeline.The timeline approach can help native English speakers grasp tenses more quickly.

Step 6: All English tenses fit into one of the 3 time frames.

Any action you describe must fit into one of the three time frames.Explain to your students that English has a lot of tenses and follows this simple truth.Specific tenses will be introduced along the timeline after that.You could say, “You all know I like to drink coffee.”I can drink coffee now or after.

Step 7: The present continuous tense needs to be introduced first.

The most intuitive way to say “I am drinking coffee” is in the present continuous tense.It refers to an action happening at the present moment.Students tend to grasp it quickly.I drink coffee, you listen to my lectures, etc.The second verb tense is also fairly intuitive.Find the verbs along your past-present-future timelines.

Step 8: Determine which tenses need to be mastered.

It’s ideal for a student to master all of the English verb tenses, but some are more important than others.You should introduce every tense, but give priority to those that will benefit your students.The present, present simple, perfect continuous, past simple and future simple tenses should be mastered by the ESL students.They need to be proficient with future, present, and present perfect continuous tenses.

Step 9: Give your students interesting examples.

Ask the students to draw from their own lives in order to personalize the learning experience.This helps the students understand the ways in which they use language in their everyday lives.I went to work this morning.I drive to work every morning.Along the way, point out how they’re using different verb tenses, often without even realizing it.

Step 10: Provide opportunities to practice.

In this case, authenticity means relevant and personalized.Have your students create a schedule for tomorrow or write a recap of what they did yesterday.Ask them to tell you where to go.verb tenses can seem dull.It will help if you can connect them to the lives and experiences of their students.

Step 11: Group games help identify tenses.

It is possible to make learning verb tenses easier and more fun by having your class play a game together.Certain games can be used to teach certain aspects of verbs tenses.Charades helps with the present perfect tense by saying “He is walking a dog!” or “They are playing tennis!”

Step 12: storyboards can be used to practice past tenses.

A storyboard is a collection of pictures that tell a simple story.Attach the pictures to the board.Do you want your students to tell you what happened before and after each picture, but only if you put the story back in the proper order?The game becomes even more of a learning experience.The pictures can be arranged in different ways to tell different stories.Making up a storyboard is a lot of fun.

Step 13: Make narrative story cards for your students.

There are 16 sentences for the narrative story.Cut out the sentences from a card.Don’t use the same sentence on the other side of the card.The tense-free side of the cards can be used by your students to play the story cards in the proper order.One side of the card might say, “It was snowing outside when Karen looked out the window in the morning.”