Day 6 of my Grammarly Christmas: prepositions of place

Those of you who’ve dropped by recently will know that I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for twelve days, I’ll be posting on a well-known and well-loved grammar theme. Today is now the sixth day of my Christmas posting extravaganza; I’m officially half way there and I’m feeling steadily more confident I can do it!

Let’s continue what I started on day five, with an old classic: prepositions of place…

The prepositions at, in and on are often used in English to talk about places (physical positions) and times. These prepositions can be incredibly tricky for learners, because sometimes the choice of one over another in a particular phrase or sentence seems arbitrary. Throw in the likes of under, beside, behind and next to and you’re setting a real challenge to lower level learners.

Today I’m eschewing the format I’ve been following a little bit because I’m going straight on to a selection of activities.

Let me set the scene for today’s post with a bit of background info…

I had to teach prepositions of place the other day and suddenly remembered something that I hadn’t done for years. This can actually be a great grammar point which can be done in class in a really fun way… if you’re willing to get creative. Ok, here we go then with a short description of three fun but easy classroom activities.

What do you need?

  1. A whiteboard and a projector, or a set of handouts if you don’t have access to a projector
  2. Some images from the ‘Rooms and Furniture’ set from ELTPics.

1. The ‘What’s in the room?’ race

You can set this activity up very quickly.

  • Find an image of a room with ‘plenty going on’ in it.
  • Get two identical copies of it.
  • Now, imagine the image below is either being projected on to your whiteboard or is on a handout in front of the students.
  • Explain that you will give a sentence and the students need to find the object you mention.
  • All you have to do is give examples: ‘There is a cushion on the bed.’
    The students circle the object in question; the fastest person earns a point for their team (set the class up in teams up as you wish).
  • Give as many examples as you want.

This is a good one to do to inject a bit of energy into the lesson and to get the creative juices flowing.

ELTPics courtesy of @fionamau

ELTPics courtesy of @fionamau

2. The interior designer game

You can set this activity up just as quickly.

  • Find an image of a room with ‘plenty going on’ in it, yet one which also has a lot of interesting empty spaces.
  • Get two identical copies of it.
  • Again, imagine the image below is either being projected on to your whiteboard or is on a handout in front of the students.
  • Explain that you will give a sentence and the students need to draw the object you mention in the correct location.
  • All you have to do is give examples: ‘There is a clock on the wall between the curtains.’
  • The students draw the object in question; either the fastest person earns a point for their team, or you could award points on ‘artistic’ merit.
  • Give as many examples as you want.

This one is good for getting the creative juices flowing, as they are actually embodying the message received in visual form.

ELTPics courtesy of @sandymillin

ELTPics courtesy of @sandymillin

3. The ‘What’s in ‘my’ room?’ challenge

Guess what? You can set this activity up really quickly.

  • Find two images of rooms with ‘relatively little going on’ in them.
  • Now, imagine the images below are either being projected on to your whiteboard or are on a handout in front of the students.
  • The class can be split into two groups; each group draws a number of items on their particular picture (each group is assigned a different picture).
  • Explain that the students will prepare sentences in a group related to the location of their drawn items and the students in the other group(s) need to find the objects they mention.
  • All they have to do is give each other examples: ‘There is a book on the table.’
  • The students draw the objects described.
  • The give as many examples as they want.
ELTPics courtesy of @CliveSir & @mattledding

ELTPics courtesy of @CliveSir & @mattledding

This is a good one for making the activity a lot more autonomous and for getting the students communicating with one another, rather than just you.

Alternatives?

If you come up with alternatives, please let me know!

Posted in Teaching ideas, The life of an english teacher | Tagged | Leave a comment

Day 5 of my Grammarly Christmas: prepositions of time

Those of you who dropped by yesterday will already know that I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for twelve days, I’ll be posting an infographic highlighting the rules that govern the ways we use a certain grammatical point, along with ideas to help those of us who get confused by said grammar point, and maybe even a few activities thrown in for good measure. Today is now the fifth day of my Christmas posting extravaganza; I’m nearly half way there and I’m feeling steadily more confident I can do it!

Let’s continue with an old classic, by looking at prepositions of time…

The prepositions at, in and on are often used in English to talk about places (physical positions) and times. These prepositions can be incredibly tricky for learners, because sometimes the choice of one over another in a particular phrase or sentence seems arbitrary. However, we can teach key concepts in meaning and usage which consistently apply and can be used as a basis for teaching and learning.

Now we get to the point where you skip ahead if you’re familiar with the form, this next part is for native speakers who don’t know English grammar!

If we examine these different aspects of usage for the three prepositions, a general pattern emerges. Use the following as quick rules of thumb:

  1. At is generally used in reference to specific times on the clock or points of time in the day.
  2. In generally refers to longer periods of time, several hours or more.
  3. On is used with dates and named days of the week.

Let’s look at each in detail with a few examples…

The preposition AT is used in the following descriptions of time:

With clock times:

  • My last train leaves at 10:30.
  • We left at midnight.
  • The meeting starts at two thirty.

With specific times of day, or mealtimes:

  • He doesn’t like driving at night.
  • I’ll go shopping at lunchtime.
  • I like to read the children a story at bedtime.

With festivals:

  • Are you going home at Christmas?

In certain fixed expressions which refer to specific points in time:

  • Are you leaving at the weekend?*
  • She’s working at the moment.
  • He’s unavailable at present.
  • I finish the course at the end of May.
  • We arrived at the same time.

*In American English, ‘on the weekend’ is the correct form.

The preposition IN is used in the following descriptions of time:

With months, years, seasons, and longer periods of time:

  • I was born in 1975.
  • We’re going to visit them in May.
  • The pool is closed in winter.
  • He was famous in the 1980s.
  • The play is set in the middle Ages.
  • They’ve done work for me in the past.

With periods of time during the day:

  • He’s leaving in the morning.
  • She usually has a sleep in the afternoon(s).
  • I tried to work in the evening.

To describe the amount of time needed to do something:

  • They managed to finish the job in two weeks.
  • You can travel there and back in a day.

To indicate when something will happen in the future:

  • She’ll be ready in a few minutes.
  • He’s gone away but he’ll be back in a couple of days.

The preposition ON is used in the following descriptions of time:

With days of the week, and parts of days of the week:

  • I’ll see you on Monday.
  • She usually works on Fridays.
  • We’re going to the theater on Wednesday evening.

In spoken English, ‘on’ is often omitted in this context, e.g. I’ll see you Friday.

With dates:

  • The interview is on February 14th, 1995.
  • He was born on 29th April.

With special days:

  • She was born on Valentine’s Day.
  • We move house on my birthday.
  • I have an exam on Christmas Eve.

If you want a slightly wordier explanation of each, here you go…

  • AT is a mechanism for denoting the specific, it usually refers to fixed points in time (e.g.: clock times) and specific points in space.
  • ON is a mechanism which usually describes something in relation to a second, often linear dimension, hence it relates to the calendar (days and dates) and surfaces or lines.
  • IN is a mechanism for describing something in relation to the things that surround it in time or space, hence it relates to periods of time and three dimensional spaces or containers.

Still confused? Here’s an infographic that clears things up…

As promised, here are some simple and easily applicable teaching ideas…

1 Important events in your life

Give learners 6 small strips of paper. On three strips they list important events in the lives (the day I was born, etc.); on the other three they write corresponding time phrases (on March 5th, 1982). Learners mingle and read out a prepositional phrase to others, inviting guesses as to what the event might be.

2 What were you doing then?

This is a slight variation on activity 1. Put random times on slips of paper including years, months, specific dates and times. Each learner takes a turn drawing one of the times. He must then tell the class what he was doing at that time and must choose the correct preposition of time to express himself. Examples: I was vacationing in June. I was studying on Sunday. I was eating lunch at noon.

3 Write on…

Get learners to put their knowledge of prepositions of time to use with a creative activity as they write their own short pieces of fiction. Encourage learners to write simple fictional stories in ten sentences using a preposition of time in each sentence. Once their stories are written, learners should cut the sentences apart and shuffle them. Then have learners exchange stories with a partner and arrange their partner’s events in the correct sequence.

4 Check Your Calendar

Why not personalize the experience by getting learners to fill out a calendar with either real or fictional events in their lives. Put learners into pairs so they can discuss what they will be doing and at what times. Learners should choose the appropriate preposition of time for each event during their discussion times.

Posted in Teaching ideas, The life of an english teacher | 4 Comments

Day 4 of my Grammarly Christmas: using video clips to teach grammar

If you’ve been reading the blog recently, you’ll know that I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for twelve days, I’ll be writing a post highlighting the rules that govern the ways we use a certain grammatical point, along with ideas to help those of us who get confused by said grammar point, and maybe even a few activities thrown in for good measure. Today is now the fourth day in my Christmas posting extravaganza and with each passing day I’m feeling steadily more confident I can do it!

In the first three of my posts, I offered grammar advice on a particular verb tense. Today, I’m changing direction a little by looking at utilizing video clips to teach grammar in general. To be honest, I have an ulterior motive for this!

Please click on the image and vote for ‘How to get 10 grammar teaching activities from one video clip.’ Thanks!

Today’s offering is a reposting of a very popular post from March of this year. Originally titled ‘How to get 10 grammar teaching activities from one video clip‘, I’m delighted to say that this post has been nominated in the category of Most Influential Blog Post Of The Year 2014 in the Edublog Awards.

Rather than making you search through my blog for the original, plus the fact that it fits nicely into my Grammarly Christmas theme, I thought I’d make it today’s festive post.

If you like what you see here, please consider clicking on the picture to the right and giving me your vote. Your support is, of course, very much appreciated!

Now, on to business.

As with my previous three posts, I’m really aiming at newly qualified teachers here who could do with a bit of a helping hand in the grammar department. Nevertheless, I’m hoping everyone can take away a little something from this one…

How to get 10 grammar teaching activities from one video clip

Today I’m going to show you how to use a video clip to uncover a variety of different language points in class. While the examples I give are somewhat specific to this clip, many if not all can be used with other clips without a great deal of adaptation required. Basically, today’s post is a template of ideas for using video clips that have no dialogue.

Before we begin, though, let me give you a little bit of background on this clip, which is one of my favourite on the whole of YouTube. What we see in this incredible video are scenes shot from a streetcar traveling down Market Street in San Francisco in 1905. This footage was captured just before the earthquake and fire of 1906 which completely destroyed the area. This is truly remarkable footage giving us insight into the lifestyles of a bygone California age.

Ok, before we get down to business, I’d like you all to watch the video yourselves, just to get a feel of it…

That really is something, isn’t it? At this point I should mention that the footage is available in royalty free format from www.archive.org.

Now, let’s think of all the ways we can use this clip to uncover grammar points in the classroom. You might want to use it for any one of these points, or combine several to make for one lesson themed around early 20th Century San Francisco: the choice is yours.

Talking about the past

Let’s deal with the obvious; this video shows history. It makes for a great opportunity to discuss all kinds of verb tenses. Here are just a few questions you could pose your learners:

1. Simple past

  • What did people wear in those days?
  • How did people dress?

A description of clothes would be a simple way to do this, while a discussion on the formality of clothing styles would also work well

  • What was transport like in early 20th Century San Francisco?
  • How did people move around?

Draw comparison with the present time, or ask for thoughts on transport and the amount of traffic visible.

2. Past continuous

  • While watching this video, make not of five things that people were doing.
  • Where do you think people were going? Where were people coming from?

3. Present perfect

  • How have styles of dress changed in the years since then?
  • How has transport developed since early 20th Century San Francisco?

Almost everyone is formally dressed in the clip; is the same true nowadays? What remains and what has disappeared?

Real time action

Treat the scene as if it were happening in the here and now.

4. Present continuous

  • Where are people going?
  • What are people doing?

Consider the reasons for these actions to promote creative thinking.

Reflecting on the past

Things have changed greatly in the world since then. How did people live? What is better or worse in the modern world? What thoughts does this video put in our minds?

5. Unreal conditional

  • If you could travel back to the time and place this video was made, what 2/3 things would you like to do? Why?

6. Past habits

  • Based on what you saw in this video, what kind of habits did people have in early 20th Century San Francisco?
  • What did people use to do on a regular basis?

This again makes for an interesting comparison with modern day habits.

7. Focus on articles

This would lend itself to a nice little paragraph about how we use articles. Here are the first few sentences for you:

This video shows ___ San Francisco (no article with city names) in 1905. It was filmed on ___ Main Street (no article with street names). One year later, ___ earthquake (indefinite article with the first mention of a general, non-specific noun) destroyed ___ city (definite article because we know which city, i.e. it has already been mentioned). ___ earthquake (definite article with the second mention of a general, non-specific noun) killed many thousands of people and destroyed many of ___ (test time: why the definite article here?) buildings in this clip.

Activities that develop creative thought

8. Focus on one character in the video

Look at the man in this image. Write about his life:

Tell me about this man's life.

Tell me about this man’s life.

  • Who was he?
  • Where was he going on this day?
  • Why was he in a rush?
  • Did he get onto the tram?
  • Where had he come from?
  • What was he holding in his hand?

9. Modal verbs to describe the ‘laws of the road’

Write down a list of rules for appropriate transport / pedestrian behaviour on Main Street San Francisco in 1905. Make them funny by contrasting them with what we can do today.

  • People should run in front of the tram.
  • Horses and cars must drive across the tram line at all times.
  • No one needs to be careful of traffic in any way.

10. Compare life then and now

Give 3/4/5 examples to complete each of these sentences:

  • Life is better/worse now because…
  • Life was better/worse then because…

Your turn…

Now that I’ve given you ten ideas on how to exploit this video, I want you to give me more ideas. I think most of the ideas I’ve suggested here could be used with any clip that doesn’t have dialogue. Furthermore, I think you could combine several of these ideas to make a really good lesson. I still want more, though… Any good ideas mentioned in the comments will be added to this post, so don’t be shy!

Posted in Classic posts, Teaching ideas, The life of an english teacher | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Day 3 of my Grammarly Christmas: past perfect and past perfect continuous

Those of you who dropped by yesterday will already know that I’m in a sharing mood because it’s Christmas! As crazy as I might be for trying it, I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for twelve days, I’ll be posting an infographic highlighting the rules that govern the ways we use a certain grammatical point, along with ideas to help those of us who get confused by said grammar point, and maybe even a few activities thrown in for good measure. Today is now the third day of my Christmas posting extravaganza and I’m feeling steadily more confident I can do it!

Let’s continue with an old classic, by looking at the past perfect simple and continuous tenses…

The concept of the past perfect is often easier to grasp for learners of English than the present perfect (see yesterday’s post for some ideas about the present perfect), partly because the event being discussed is usually clearly in the past. Moreover, the past perfect is usually dealt with after the present perfect, meaning that someone else may already have had to teach that before your dear learners arrived in your class!

Now we get to the point where you skip ahead if you’re familiar with the form, this next part is for native speakers who don’t know English grammar!

What are the past perfect simple and continuous tenses? Read on if you’ve just finished your CELTA…

The past perfect tense describes something that happened in the past before another action, or before a specific point in time. Typically, the past perfect is used in conjunction with the auxiliary verb “had.”

For example: “When I got to the party, she had already left.”

An example expressing time would be: “Had she eaten sushi before she moved to Japan last year?

Past perfect can show duration by showing something that has happened in the past conditional on another acting ending.

For example: “By the time we finished our meal, the sun had set.”

The past perfect continuous (or past perfect progressive) tense is used to describe an action that happened in the past and lasted up until another action in the past.

For example: “By the time the train finally arrived, I’d been waiting at the station for more than an hour.”

What’s the difference with the past perfect and the simple past?

There are times when the use of past perfect is essential to avoid confusion of when something happened. Compare the following two sentences:

  • A. The bomb exploded when the police arrived. (Were any police hurt by the bomb? Yes)
  • B. The bomb had exploded when the police arrived. (Were any police hurt by the bomb? No)

To check learners’ understanding of the difference, give the following sentences and ask them which sentence it most logically follows: A or B.

  • The police looked for evidence. (B)
  • The police were too late. (B)
  • Two police officers were hurt. (A)
  • The police didn’t know there was a bomb there. (A)

You can do similar exercises with the following sentences, or create your own.

  • The plane took off when we arrived. (You got on the plane, the plane took off)
  • The place had taken off when we arrived. (Too late, you missed the plane)
  • She walked out when I came into the room. (I guess I upset her, so she left when she saw me)
  • She had walked out when I came into the room. (Our paths didn’t cross)

Still confused? Here’s an infographic that clears things up…

As promised, here are some simple and easily applicable teaching ideas…

1. Classic time lines

Drawing a time line is often an effective way to visually explain the past perfect continuous. Write two events on the time line, and end the time line with ‘now.’ Draw a line between the two events to show how the one action continued until the second action happened. There’s a good example in the infographic above, if you’re not sure what I mean.

You can also present an example sentence of how both events are connected in the past perfect continuous tense. For example: ‘Ann had an accident because she had been driving for 12 hours without a break.’ Indicate ‘driving 12 hours’ and ‘accident’ on your time line.

2. The ‘frozen in time’ game

Here’s a good one for the continuous tense. Divide your class into two teams. Get the first team to sit together while the second team stands in a group. Ask the first team to close their eyes. Show the second team an action verb such as ‘playing football.’ The second team now has to quietly act out this verb until you say ‘freeze.’ They have to literally freeze in their current action. The first team now needs to guess what the other team had been doing before they opened their eyes. Make them start each guess with ‘Before I opened my eyes…’ Give both teams an opportunity to act and to guess, and award points for each successful guess, provided that the correct tense was used. Making learners play the ‘frozen in time’ game can be a great way to explain the concept to your learners.

3. The interview

Tell your learners they need to interview each other: one will take the role of a interviewer, while the other is the interviewee. The interviewer must select an event that happened in the past, and ask about any ongoing activities that happened before that event. For instance, “Where had you been living before you moved to this city?“, “How long had you been studying English before this class started?” or “Had you been dating anyone when you moved here?” The person being interviewed also has to answer each question in the past perfect continuous tense. This is a great activity for getting learners to practice question forms and giving appropriate responses.

4. Join the sentences

A simple exercise to manipulate and focus on form involves joining two sentences together. Look at this example:

  • Dave took a shower.
  • Before that he drank a cup of coffee.
  • After Dave had drunk a cup of coffee, he took a shower.

With just a little adjustment, this simple activity can be personalized. Change the sentences to the first person singular.

  • I took a shower this morning.
  • Before that I drank a cup of coffee.

First learners combine the two sentences.

  • When I had drunk a cup of coffee, I took a shower this morning.

Then ask them to change it into a question:

  • Had you drunk a cup of coffee when you took a shower this morning?

They then ask this question to other learners in the group. Now, try these alternatives:

  • I arrived at work. Before that I ate breakfast.
  • I left the house. Before that I turned off the TV.
  • I came to this class. Before that I didn’t study English.
  • I had a test. Before that I reviewed all my class notes.

This is a great activity for personalizing the tenses, as you can make your own examples that are relevant to your learners’ lives.

Posted in Teaching ideas, The life of an english teacher | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Day 2 of my Grammarly Christmas: for and since with present perfect

Those of you who dropped by yesterday will already know that I’m in a sharing mood because it’s Christmas! As crazy as I might be for trying it, I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for the next twelve days, I’ll be posting an infographic highlighting the rules that govern the ways we use a certain grammatical point, along with ideas to help those of us who get confused by said grammar point, and maybe even a few activities thrown in for good measure. Today is only the second day of my Christmas posting extravaganza, but I’m already feeling confident I can do it!

Let’s continue in classic style, by looking at the differences between the uses of for and since with the present perfect simple tense…

On the face of it, the way we use ‘for’ and ‘since’ with the present perfect is really straightforward. However, that’s only the case because we speak English. The thing is, many languages have nothing that serves the same function. Either that, or they have no perfect tense with which to use these time markers. Mark my words, we often have to do a lot of groundwork before we get to the point where we can show the differences!

Now we get to the point where you skip ahead if you’re familiar with the form, this next part is for native speakers who don’t know English grammar!

What are ‘for’ and ‘since’ and how might we use them with the present perfect simple tense? Read on if you’ve just finished your CELTA…

The words for and since are used in sentences where the speaker wants to talk about something that started in the past and continues into the present.

For is used when specifying the amount of time (how long):

  • I’ve had this suit for more than 10 years.
  • I’ve only known her for a few weeks.
  • He’s been here for 6 months and still can’t speak a word of German.
  • She’s been smoking for a long time. No wonder she coughs so much!

Since is used when specifying the starting point:

  • I’ve had this watch since 1995.
  • I’ve only known her since the beginning of last week.
  • He’s been here since April and he still can’t speak a word of German.
  • She’s been smoking since she started 5th grade. No wonder she coughs so much!

Note: The present perfect or present perfect continuous (see yesterday’s post for more on this tense) are needed in such sentences. It is wrong to say:

  • I know her for two years. (have known)
  • I am knowing her since 2006. (have known)

Still confused? Here’s an infographic that clears things up…

Now, as promised, here is a simple and easily applicable teaching idea…

Find out which people in your group have…

For each topic of discussion you will have to ask each person a question. Here’s an example for your the first topic:

‘lived in their house the longest’

You will ask the question,

‘How long have you lived in your house?’

If learner 1 says ‘Three years’, learner 2 says ‘Six months’, and learner 3 says ‘Ten years’, write learner 3’s name and ‘ten years’ in the spaces provided on the worksheet you’ll prepare (with examples like those below).

Learners work in groups of 3 or 4 and take it in turns to ask the questions. They should feel free to ask follow up questions and develop a natural conversation. Here are some suggestions for you…

  • …lived in their house the longest                         Name: _______ How long? ______
  • …done the same job the longest                           Name: _______ How long? ______
  • …worked for the same employer the longest    Name: _______ How long? ______
  • …visited the most countries                                 Name: _______ How many? ______
  • …eaten the most unusual food                             Name: _______ Unusual dish ______
  • …had doner kebab recently                                 Name: _______ When? ______
  • …done some physical exercise recently             Name: _______ When? ______
  • …taken an exam recently                                     Name: _______ When? ______

Posted in Teaching ideas, The life of an english teacher | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Day 1 of my Grammarly Christmas: present perfect continuous

Well, everyone… it’s Christmas and I’m in a sharing mood! As crazy as I might be for trying it, I’m embarking on ‘The 12 Grammarly Days of Christmas’. Every day for the next twelve days, I’ll post an infographic highlighting the rules that govern the ways we use a certain grammatical point, along with ideas to help those of us who get confused by said grammar point, and maybe even a few activities thrown in for good measure. Sounds a little bit crazy already, doesn’t it? Well, maybe it is, but I’m in a festive mood, so I’ll give it a go!

Let’s start in classic style, by looking at the differences between the present perfect simple tense and the present perfect continuous tense…

Although the differences between the present perfect simple tense and the present perfect continuous tense are subtle, understanding them can be important for correctly conveying our thoughts. While both the present perfect simple tense and the present perfect continuous tense are used to describe an action that has already started and is still happening or has just ended, there is usually a difference in the meaning of your sentence depending on which tense you use.

Skip ahead if you’re familiar with the form, this next part is for native speakers who don’t know English grammar!

What’s the Present Perfect Simple? Read on if you’ve just finished your CELTA…

Formed from auxiliary ‘have’ or ‘has’ with a past participle, the present perfect simple tense is usually used to talk about the past in relation to the present. It suggests a connection between something that happened in the past and a present time, often referring to an action in the past which has a result now, i.e. it influences the present in some way.

Examples:

  • I have heard the news.
  • He has spoken to the manager.

What’s the Present Perfect Continuous?

The present perfect continuous tense (also called the present perfect progressive tense in the U.S) is used to emphasize the length or continuous progression of an action in a sentence.

Examples:

  • They have been trying to quit smoking for years.
  • She has been listening to him complain all day.

How do we use these tenses?

Actually, in many cases there is very little difference between the present perfect simple tense and the present perfect continuous tense. In fact, there are some situations in which either tense is acceptable. But it is important to know which situations require one tense rather than the other, in order to convey the correct meaning.

We use the present perfect simple tense when saying ‘ever‘ or ‘never‘ in a sentence, i.e. when talking about life experience. There are also certain verbs that can be used in the present perfect simple tense, but not in the present perfect continuous tense. When ‘be‘ or ‘have‘ are used in reference to possession, only the present perfect simple tense can be used. Also, the senses must be used in the present perfect simple tense: feel, hear, see, smell, taste and touch. Verbs having to do with thought processes must also be used in the present perfect simple tense, such as believe, know, think and understand.

Use the present perfect continuous tense, however, when an action has ended and you know the outcome of that action. It is particularly useful when the duration of the action needs to be stressed.

Still confused? Here’s an infographic that clears things up…

As promised, here are some simple and easily applicable teaching ideas…

1. Contrasting finished and unfinished time

On your board draw two columns, label one ‘finished time’, and the other ‘unfinished time’. Under finished time, list time phrases such as ‘yesterday’, ‘last week’, ‘last year’ and the year ‘2000’. These are completed measures of time. Under unfinished time, list words such as ‘today’, ‘this week’, ‘this year’ and the present year. None of these times have been completed.

Learners then create sentences using both the simple past – “Last year I moved to Istanbul” – and the present perfect – “This year I have been taking English classes.

2. Yes/No interview questions

Begin this exercise with questions that will lead learners to provide answers in the present perfect tense.

Teacher: “Have you ever played rugby?”
Learner: “No, I haven’t.”

Then split the class into pairs and have them ask each other yes/no questions. Provide cards with sample questions such as:

“Have you ever broken a bone?” or…
“Have you ever been late for work?”

Encourage the learners to interview each other with their questions so the exercise will be more meaningful.

3. Combining sentences

Present two sentences that can be made into one using the present perfect continuous tense. For example, “Eylem is cooking” and “Eylem started to cook three hours ago” can be combined into “Eylem has been cooking for three hours.”

When learners are comfortable combining sentences, divide them into groups and hand each group an envelope with three cards. Written on each card are two sentences that the learners are instructed to make into one.

4. Scrambled sentences

Start by writing a sentence on your board. For instance, “Tom has been plating golf for two years.” Then erase it and write the sentence again with the words scrambled. Repeat this exercise until learners understand, then divide the class into groups. Give each group an envelope with one scrambled sentence.

Every time a group successfully unscrambles a sentence, they write the correct sentence on the board and then get a new envelope. Set a time limit and see which group can solve the most scrambled sentences.

Posted in Teaching ideas | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

3 Happy posts to start December – Part 3

Well, the month of December is upon us already and at this time of year I always like to reflect on what’s happened on the blog over the past 12 months. First of all… a massive thank you to you all! During 2014 an incredible 750,000 people have visited ‘Teach them English‘ and more than 1500 of you now subscribe to get regular updates.

Blogging can be a lonely business and more often than not the thing that keeps us bloggers going is the hope that someone out there is finding what you write interesting, informative, or even useful. The huge number of you who’ve dropped by this year seems to suggest I’m doing something right!

Please help make me more influential!

Please help make me more influential!

So… on to business. December has started in fine fashion for me, as I’ve hoped to slowly explain over the course of three quickfire posts, rounding off with this one.

As you might have guessed from that image on the right, it’s Edublog Awards season again. I’m happy to announce that my humble blog has been nominated for the ‘Most Influential Blog Post of 2014‘ category.

Naturally, I’d love you to take a look at all the blog posts in the list and vote for the ones that you love: if one of those happens to be ‘Teach them English: How to get 10 grammar teaching activities from one video clip’, all the better! You can do so by clicking on the link below (I’m currently hanging in there in 5th place).

Most Influential Post – 2014 Edublog Awards

View more lists from Edublogs

I thank all of you once again for having given your time to read what I write. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve been aiming my posts at newer and less experienced teachers, so I hope the things I write are proving helpful. Please join me again in my next post when I share more good news about the blog.

Posted in The life of an english teacher | Tagged | Leave a comment

3 Happy posts to start December – Part 2

As I mentioned yesterday, 2014 has been a great year for me and for this blog. An incredible 750,000 people have visited ‘Teach them English’ and more than 1500 of you subscribe to my posts. Blogging really can be a lonely and thankless task; more often than not the thing that keeps us bloggers going is the hope that someone out there is finding what you write interesting, informative, or even useful. Consequently, a big thank you to all of you!

I’m delighted to say that December really has got off to a great start for me: a blog post of mine has been nominated for the British Council TeachingEnglishFeatured blog of the month for November! Actually, I’ve won this award a couple of times before, but it is still nice to be appreciated by such a large and energetic online ELT community. This time around, I’ve been nominated for a very popular post in which I shared a set of materials and a video for teaching the difference between ‘would’ and ‘used to’ for past habits.

____________________

If you’d like to vote for me, please click here and scroll down until you find the post with the image below in it, and click ‘like’. It’s as simple as that!

BCTE blog post of the month

Please scroll down the page until you find this image, then click ‘like’

____________________

I’ve been lucky enough to win British Council TeachingEnglish ‘Featured blog of the month’ in July, 2014. As I mentioned, this was the second time I’ve won this award (click here to see what won the first time), but this time around is no less of a joy than either of those occasions.

Many thanks in advance to all those who have voted for me on the TeachingEnglish Facebook page! Recognition like this is exactly the kind of thing that keeps bloggers like me going.

Please join me again tomorrow for the last of my self-congratulatory posts!

Posted in The life of an english teacher | Tagged | Leave a comment

3 Happy posts to start December – Part 1

Well, the month of December is upon us already and at this time of year I always like to reflect on what’s happened on the blog over the past 12 months. First of all… a massive thank you to you all! During 2014 an incredible 750,000 people have visited ‘Teach them English‘. Blogging can be a lonely business and more often than not the thing that keeps us bloggers going is the hope that someone out there is finding what you write interesting, informative, or even useful. The huge number of you who’ve dropped by this year seems to suggest I’m doing something right!

So… on to business. December has started in fine fashion for me, as I hope to slowly explain over the course of three quickfire posts, starting with this one. A couple of things for today…

First up, I’m delighted to have had an article published in this month’s issue of Humanising Language Teaching. This is a great Journal which, despite the fact it is often maligned simply for being ‘free’ and ‘online’, regularly offers a fantastic range of contemporary articles on ELT matters. My article ‘The 10 Commandments of Teaching ‘Generation Y’ with Technology‘ is based on research I conducted at my university. It offers a a list of strategies, backed up by the research, as to how and why you should embrace tech in your classes. Like I said, this is a great open access journal, so please drop by and have a read.

edublog_awards_teacher_blog-1hgfjy6Now, on to my main news for the day…

As you might have guessed from that image on the right, it’s Edublog Awards season again. I’m happy to announce that my humble blog has been nominated for the ‘Best Teacher Blog‘ category.

Naturally, I’d love you to take a look at all the blogs in the list and vote for the ones that you love: if one of those happens to be ‘Teach them English’, all the better! You can do so by clicking on the link below (I’m currently hanging in there in 9th place).

I thank all of you once again for having given your time to read what I write. Over the course of the last year or so I’ve been aiming my posts at newer and less experienced teachers, so I hope the things I write are proving helpful. Please join me again in my next post when I share more good news about the blog.

Posted in The life of an english teacher | Tagged | Leave a comment

Infographic: for and since with present perfect

Here is an infographic showing the different uses of for and since to express time with the present perfect simple and continuous tenses.

This infographic was prepared using a couple of free applications. Firstly, I used the piktochart free website for the overall infographic, with the embedded cartoons created using bitstrips. Additionally, examples were taken from the English Club website.

Let me know if it’s useful. Click on the image to make it larger, or click here to download the full size image.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments