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Teaching the Simple Present Tense: A Comprehensive and Engaging Lesson Plan

teaching the simpple present tense

The simple present tense is one of the most fundamental aspects of English grammar. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced teacher, you need to know how to teach the simple present tense to improve your students’ skills in the English language. Below is your ultimate resource for teaching the simple present simple. With a focus on clarity and simplicity, we break it down to make it easy to understand and apply.

From regular verbs to irregular verbs, affirmative statements to negative statements, and questions to time expressions, we cover it all and carefully designed all of that to be interactive and engaging, incorporating interactive quizzes, real-life examples, and practical exercises to help you truly teach the simple present tense more effectively.

By reading this lesson plan, you’ll enhance your understanding and retention of this essential grammatical concept. So you will unlock the full potential of teaching the simple present tense more professionally.

Formation of the Simple Present Tense:

  • Explain the basic structure: subject + verb (base form).
  • Discuss the addition of “s” or “es” for third-person singular subjects (he/she/it).
  • Provide examples: I walk, you walk, we walk, and they walk, but: he/she/it walks.

Usage of the Simple Present Tense:

  • Used to express habits, routines, or general truths.
  • Describe permanent situations or states.
  • Make comments about facts, laws of nature, or universal truths.
  • Give instructions or directions.

Examples of Simple Present Tense Sentences:

  • I eat vegetables every day. (habit).
  • The sun rises in the east. (general truth).
  • Water boils at 100°C. (scientific fact). 
  • She works at a bank. (permanent situation).

Common Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Forgetting to add “s” or “es” for third person singular.
  • Mixing verb tenses unnecessarily.
  • Overusing the simple present for actions happening now.

Addressing Common Mistakes (General Tips)

  • Incorporate error correction as a regular part of practice exercises.
  • Encourage students to keep a log of their common errors for self-reflection.
  • Use peer editing activities to help students identify and correct each other’s mistakes.
  • Provide targeted feedback, focusing on recurring errors in students’ written or spoken English.
  • Celebrate progress and encourage a positive attitude towards learning from mistakes.

How To Address Common Mistakes When Teaching The Simple Present Tense:

1. Forgetting to add “s” or “es” for the third-person singular

  • Emphasize the importance of this rule through repetition and examples.
  • Have students identify the third-person singular subjects (he/she/it) in sentences.
  • Practice adding the correct verb endings (-s/-es) for those subjects.
  • Provide opportunities for peer correction and feedback.

2. Mixing verb tenses unnecessarily

  • Explain the concept of verb tense consistency within a sentence/paragraph.
  • Show examples of incorrect tense shifts and how they affect meaning.
  • Have students identify and correct tense errors in sample texts.
  • Encourage them to read their own writing aloud to catch tense shifts.

3. Overusing the simple present for actions happening now

  • Clarify the difference between the simple present (habits/routines) and the present continuous (actions happening now).
  • Use visuals or role-play to contrast the two tenses.
  • Provide examples of incorrect usage and have students correct them.
  • Practice exercises focused on distinguishing between the two tenses.

By dedicating time to addressing common mistakes, students will develop a better understanding of the simple present tense and its appropriate usage.

Consistent practice, targeted feedback, and error analysis will help reinforce the correct usage and minimize mistakes over time.

Practice Exercises:

  • Fill in the blanks with the correct verb forms.
  • Identify and correct mistakes in sample sentences.
  • Rewrite sentences in the simple present tense.
  • Dictation exercises to practice listening and writing.

Examples of Practice Exercises for the Simple Present Tense:

1. Fill in the Blanks:

  • Complete the sentences by filling in the blanks with the correct form of the verb in simple present tense.
  • Example: She _____ (go) to the gym every morning.

2. Identify and Correct Mistakes:

  • Read the given sentences and identify any mistakes related to the simple present tense.
  • Rewrite the sentences with the correct verb form.
  • Example: He go to the park every weekend. (Correction: He goes to the park every weekend.)

3. Rewrite in Simple Present Tense:

  • Provide sentences in different tenses (past, future, or present continuous).
  • Students must rewrite the sentences in the simple present tense, making necessary changes.
  • Example: I was watching a movie last night. (Rewrite: I watch movies regularly.)

4. Dictation Exercises:

  • Read out sentences that include verbs in the simple present tense.
  • Students must listen carefully and write down the sentences correctly.
  • This exercise tests their listening and writing skills while practicing the tense.

5. Speaking Practice:

  • Ask students to describe their daily routines or habits using the simple present tense.
  • Encourage them to use a variety of verbs and provide feedback on their usage.

6. Sentence Transformation:

  • Give students a sentence with a verb in a different tense.
  • They must transform the sentence to the simple present tense without changing the meaning.
  • Example: She was playing tennis yesterday. (Transform: She plays tennis.)

7. Picture Prompts:

  • Show students pictures depicting different activities or situations.
  • They must describe what they see using the simple present tense.

8. Verb Substitution:

  • Provide sentences with blanks for verbs.
  • Students must substitute the blanks with the correct form of the verb in the simple present tense.

9. Cloze Passages:

  • Create short passages with missing verbs in the simple present tense.
  • Students must fill in the blanks with the appropriate verb forms.

10. Scrambled Sentences:

  • Give students a set of scrambled words that form a simple present tense sentence.
  • They must rearrange the words to create a grammatically correct sentence.

These practice exercises can be used in various combinations and adapted to suit different proficiency levels and learning styles. They promote active engagement, reinforce understanding, and provide opportunities for error correction and feedback.

Fun Activities and Games:

  • Simple present tense bingo.
  • Charades (act out routines/habits for others to guess).
  • Scavenger hunt (find objects representing different uses of the present tense).
  • Memory games with verb flashcards.

Examples of Fun Activities and Games to Reinforce the Simple Present Tense:

1. Simple Present Tense Bingo:

  • Create bingo cards with different present tense verb forms in the squares.
  • Call out sentences or phrases using those verbs.
  • Students mark off the corresponding square if the verb is used correctly in the simple present tense.
  • The first student who gets a row/pattern wins.

2. Charades:

  • Students act out different routines, habits, or actions using only gestures and miming.
  • The rest of the class must guess the action and describe it using the simple present tense.
  • Example: A student mimes brushing teeth, and others say, “She brushes her teeth.”.

3. Scavenger Hunt:

  • Hide pictures or objects around the classroom that represent different uses of the simple present tense.
  • Students must find the items and explain their connection to the tense using correct sentences.
  • Example: A picture of the sun could prompt “The sun rises in the east.”.

4. Memory Game with Verb Flashcards:

  • Create flashcards with verbs on one side and simple present tense forms on the other.
  • Students take turns flipping cards and making matches between the verb and its present tense form.
  • Encourage them to use the matched pairs in complete sentences.

5. Simple Present Tense Rap or Song:

  • Write lyrics or a rap that incorporates rules and examples of the simple present tense.
  • Students can perform or sing along, reinforcing the tense through rhythm and repetition.

6. Board Games:

  • Adapt existing board games like “Sorry!” or “Snakes and Ladders” by adding simple present tense questions or challenges on each square.
  • Students must answer correctly or face consequences (move back, miss a turn, etc.).

7. Role-Play Scenarios:

  • Provide students with different scenarios (e.g., at a restaurant, at the doctor’s office, at school).
  • They must role-play the situations using the simple present tense to describe routines or give instructions.

8. Verb Tense Sorting:

  • Give students a set of sentences mixed with different tenses.
  • They must sort the sentences into piles based on the tense used (simple present, past, future, etc.).

9. Simple Present Tense Storytelling:

  • Students take turns creating a collaborative story, with each person contributing one sentence using the simple present tense.
  • Encourage creativity and correct usage of the tense.

These fun activities and games not only reinforce the simple present tense but also promote interactive learning, teamwork, and a positive learning environment. They cater to different learning styles and keep students engaged while practising the target tense.

Resources for Further Learning and Practice:

  • Grammar books/websites/articles focusing on teaching English grammar and tenses:

The 9 Main Techniques For Presenting Grammar In The Classroom

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

Teacher’s Guide to Teaching Grammar – FREE 5-Day Email Course

  • Educational videos explaining the concept.
  • Online quizzes and exercises.
  • Conversations to listen for real-life examples.

Conclusion and Summary:

To teach the simple present tense to EFL learners more effectively, you need to:

  • Emphasize the importance of mastering this fundamental tense.
  • Emphasize the concept of habits and routines, which exist across cultures.
  • Use visuals (pictures, videos) to illustrate examples.
  • Ask students to share their daily routines/habits to create relevant examples.
  • Gradually introduce more complex structures and exceptions.
  • Recap the formation and usage rules of the simple present tense.
  • Encourage continued practice through various exercises and activities.
  • Invite students to ask questions and clarify any lingering doubts.

By following this comprehensive lesson plan, ESL students will gain a solid understanding of the simple present tense, its formation, usage, and common pitfalls to avoid. The combination of clear explanations, relevant examples, engaging activities, and supplementary resources will ensure a well-rounded learning experience.

Thanks for reading

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Do you have any additional tips or steps for teaching the simple present tense more effectively? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me at eltguide@gmail.com

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