Be used to
Few and Little
Get Used To
Have and Have Got
Lend and Borrow
Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Simple
Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect Simple
Say and Tell
Small and Little
So and Such
Too and Enough
Will and Going to
am/is/are + present participle (verb + ing)
Students should know the present simple when you get on to the present continuous, so just start by
asking about their daily routine. Once they're comfortable with this, interrupt
a stronger student who's just said, for example, "I brush my teeth..." and ask
him "Are you brushing your teeth now?". Emphasize the "now", and then accept
just a "No" as an answer. Keep this going around the class and they'll soon
begin to get the idea about the difference. When you feel they're ready, start
using negative build-up:
"Are you brushing your teeth now?"
"Are you sleeping now?"
"Are you eating an apple now?"
"What are you doing now?"
"I'm studying English."
With a lot of repetition and a little prompting, students will get comfortable with this, at which point you can start to introduce negatives and eventually questions. When they're really comfortable, compare with present simple at the same time:
"How often do you play tennis?"
"I play tennis once a week"
"Are you playing tennis now?"
"No, I'm not playing tennis now"
In addition to your suggestions, I also distribute some pictures with several people or animals.
Either in groups or individually they first state what the scene might be,
mainly present, then share as much as they can about what is happening in their pictures.
The Mime Trick Game...
Choose a student and take him out of the room and tell him to come back in in a few minutes and mime climbing a tree. Go back in and tell the rest of the students that this student is going to come back in and mime a tree. They can say anything but climbing a tree. It is great for one lesson only but can be used in all classes so it is worth remembering. The kids have a great laugh at keeping the unfortunate student desperately trying to mime this simple action.
I usually present flash cards
to my students with a topic.
For example, I write:
and then proceed to gives cues such as: classes, library, playground, teachers, students, principal, the drill teacher, watchman
I then ask my pupils to tell the class what each person is doing at that particular moment; this has worked brilliantly in my class and my students came out enthusiastically with correct responses.
I like to work with several flashcards. First, I show students the pictures and teach them how to form the
continuous tense. Then, I have them tell me what everyone is doing in each
picture. Afterwards we play this little game with the cards: I share the cards
among them and make sure they don't see each other's cards. Then, one at a turn
gets to ask each of the colleagues about a picture they assume they have. If
they are correct, the one who has the picture should hand it to the one who made
the question. The picture should be put aside, so they won't get mixed with the
cards on their hands. The winner is the student who gets more cards from the
others and doesn't lose as many. This game really works because they get to
train the affirmative, interrogative and negative forms of the continuous, and it's lots of fun!
I present the learners with a set of flash cards with different actions. I ask them to tell me what they see
on the card, after getting their opinions I make a sentence using the present
continuous and I explain that the action is happening at that exact moment. I
call their attention to the structure of the verb phrase... the auxiliary to be
in the present and main verb -ing, then I use the cards again and give them the
chance to describe the actions on them, using the correct verb tense.
I find a game that I played in drama class works REALLY well. It's called "What are you doing?" You start with one student who starts doing an action. Another student comes up to him and says, "What are you doing?" The student replies with a LIE, something that they are not doing. Then he sits down and the student who asked begins to do the action that the other student said. A different student comes up and says, "What are you doing?" This student says another action, and the person who asked has to start doing that action. And so on and so forth until all the students have had a turn.
When I teach present continuous, I use a miming game. I give flashcards to students and ask them to mime the action, the rest of the class try to guess what he/she is doing.
- Speaking activity - After I have explained the present continuous, I play a movie and I stop it every now and then and ask students what is happening.
"I spy"... I pair up students
or make small groups depending on how many students I have, then I send students
to different classrooms and basically they "spy" on what other students are
doing, they have to take notes using the present continuous and write
affirmative and negative statements.
Example: "The student with the blue jacket IS playING with a pencil."
They write as many sentences as they can. Finally, students return to the classroom and share what they saw reading the sentences they wrote. As a follow up activity I ask them to turn the statements into yes/no questions and join another group and ask them question about the activities the students were doing in the classroom they had spied on before. I recommend writing a couple of examples to show students how they should do the activity.
I draw funny stick figures on the board and tell Ss that it's a madhouse. I tell them what one of the patients is doing and ask questions about the others. To revise it, I use a funny poem describing what different members of my family are doing. Then I ask Ss to create their own poem.
I use flash cards. I don't show the whole picture though - students try to guess what the people are doing on the card and then I show them the whole picture.
I bring some photos of famous people like footballers and ask the students whether they know him or her and what he/she usually does. Then I show them another photo of that person who is for example reading magazines and I ask them what he/she is doing NOW. I write the students suggestions on the board on two different parts: present simple and present continuous.
I ask to my students: "Do you think you have a good memory?" Some say yes, a very good one. Others say not so good. Then I challenge them and take them to the balcony and we watch all the people around and they must tell me what they are doing? They tell me the sentences in Spanish. Then we go back in the classroom and I ask them to write the sentences on board in Engish. I highlight the fact that the structure in Spanish and English is the same. El senor esta andando en su bicicleta = sujeto verbo ser o estar verbo terminando en -ando o -iendo complemento. The man is ridding on his bicycle = subject verb to be verb ending in -ing (gerund) complement. This is just the presentation then I work on the different forms, affirmative, interrogative and negative forms and the rules for adding -ing to the verbs. I hope you try it, enjoy it and it is helpful.
I believe that teaching the continuous depends on the original language of the students. Romance languages have this set of tenses, germanic languages do not. For Spanish speakers, progressives should be quite natural. For German speakers, this is actually intermediate to advanced work. The first step is to be fully versed in the original language of your student and be able to make relevant comparisons (specifically when teaching adults).
If you have a good way of introducing or practising this grammar point, tell us about it here...
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