Expanding the past tense

Past continuous and "used to"

1 Past continuous Q and A

The past continuous is kind of a story tense as there has to be two things happening at the same time. This is the interesting part. The tedious part is that lower level learners have enough difficulty dealing with the past simple. And the past continuous just adds another level of complexity. Anyway, I had a go at making it a bit more interesting.


2 Past continuous sentences

This is just an alternative sentence completion version or complement to the exercise above.


3 “Used to” Q and A

Teaching “used to” is interesting as it is a past vs present activity and and can lead to basic discussions comparing the past and present.


Future Tense Speaking Activities

Plans, goals, intentions and predictions

1 Talking about plans, goals and intentions with “going" to” (elementary level)

I often look through old ESL books for ideas for good speaking activities for lower level classes. Then I like to update and improve these speaking activities. This is a future tense speaking activity for a fairly elementary class.


2 Making predictions with “will”(upper elementary and above)

Making predictions is a pretty engaging exercise. And I think this survey-type activity is an excellent way to have a discussion class. Moreover, it can work at fairly low levels.


Talking about neighborhoods lesson

Elementary vocabulary and speaking: 3 exercises

1 Talking about neighborhoods

I really like simple, clear easy-to-use vocabulary and speaking exercises for elementary classes. If you have the right materials and ideas teaching lower level classes can be a lot of fun.


2 Parts of speech for neighborhoods

Ok, I’ve been doing this quite a lot recently. But parts of speech for specific topics are a kind of useful way to expand and get a little deeper into vocabulary and grammar.


3 Create a conversation about your neighborhood

Creating a conversation within certain guidelines is a great way to get students using language with their own ideas. And it can be used in so many ways. It can be used to create a role play. It can used to make a video. And it can be used as a speaking test. Or indeed, it can be used to create a role play which is made into a video which is graded by the teacher (this is how I use it….especially now that teaching is online).


Success, Failure and Risk

Talking about life: 2 vocabulary and speaking activities

1 Success or failure?

I have noticed over the years that students struggle with the words “success” and “failure” and their various forms. They struggle with the pronunciation (hmmm.. “success” vs “succeed” “fail” not “fell”!- and “failure” pronounced as “failyer”) and the grammar. But success and failure is a fantastic stand-alone topic for a class. It’s great for brainstorming, discussions and much more.

( download)

2 Taking risks!

The pronunciation of the word “risk” is another word that many English as a second language students find difficult to pronounce. They have trouble with the ending sounds and also the past tense form (“risked” pronounced as “riskt”). But like success and failure it’s a fantastic stand-alone classroom discussion topic. In fact, these two topics are really quite complementary. They are ways we talk about work and living.


Adverbs, Manners and Dream Houses

Grammar with pictures, a brainstorming icebreaker and a mini-presentation

1 Common adverbs 1

I think this is a pretty smooth way to teach grammar. Students use pictures to complete sentences followed by an activity in which they have to think of their own ideas.


2 Common adverbs 2

And when I have a template and pictures it is always easier to create 2 exercises!


3 Manners (good and bad) brainstorm icebreaker

This is a good icebreaker for a discussion or lesson about manners and behavior. It could also be used for an exploration of intercultural issues. And it could also be a great way into a grammar lesson about modal verbs and giving advice.


4 Dream House Mini-Presentation

I had tried this exercise before and it didn’t seem to go so well. It wasn’t until I put in some example sentences that it clicked and worked easily. I think mini-presentations are good for large classes at a lower to pre-intermediate ability level.


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