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How I Made A Success In Teaching English Tenses Thanks To These Five Steps

Teaching English tenses should be presented systematically. This systematic presentation will make it easier and faster for students to both understand and use these tenses.

I personally used a basic process to teach all tenses. This process goes into 5 steps.

They are in sequence as follows:

  1. Teaching the affirmative
  2. Teaching the negative
  3. Asking questions
  4. Teaching & Eliciting short answers from students
  5. Getting students to ask & answer questions

The fact that asking questions cannot be used straight away means that a transfer technique is required first.

That is to say that the students must be in a “repeat” mode, and at first, they should simply repeat the teacher’s examples and do replacement drills.

I sometimes teach only one person of the verb at a time. “I am” is a good example.

None of the other persons of the verb use “am”, so it has to be covered all on its own, affirmative and negative, as does “you are”, before asking questions.

In the case of the simple present (taking the verb “to go” as an example) there are two basic forms, “go” and “goes” and these must be separated.

In this case, I prefer using the third person first as students are more likely to forget to add “s” to the verb for the third person than remember to put it on.

However, the fact that all persons other than the third are the same means that I, You, We, and They can all be taught together.

I Also Contrast Between The Tenses When Reviewing Them

It is very useful for students to be shown with different examples, contexts, and illustrations the point that this tense is contrasted in meaning with that, or those.

My goal here is to avoid students’ confusion when using different tenses.

Some of these are obvious: when you introduce the past for the first time, probably with the verb “to be”, “was” is contrasted to “is” as a starting point and, if necessary, “were” to “are”.

Others may be less evident and here are some tenses which should be contrasted with each other, not only when the second of them is introduced but when reviewing the tenses.

  • Present progressive X simple present.
  • Past progressive X simple past
  • Simple past X present perfect
  • Present perfect X simple present

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One thought on “How I Made A Success In Teaching English Tenses Thanks To These Five Steps

  1. Bryan Sumner says:

    Very interesting article!
    I started as a part-time English teacher when the pandemic started and I can say that this is a really good article with useful tips for those who are just starting their long journey in learning English!

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