• THE SO-CALLED “SIMPLE” PAST TENSE


    By
    Agung Wibawa
    Introduction
    Students’ ability to talk about issues and/or events in the past is extensively taught in CV-2. Therefore, it is only natural that I am writing about some of the techniques I have used in my own class recently, to teach this particular point of grammar. The followings can either be delivered as a single unit for an additional session or inserted in the lesson to complement exercises from the CV-2 book.

    The Activities
                Then & Now. At the beginning of the lesson, the teacher elicit past memories from the students by asking them to remember their childhood moments or perhaps their high school years. Simple questions like; “Were you wearing glasses when you were in high school?, Did you have a boyfriend?, Who was your favourite teacher?” will smoothly lead them to the lesson. After getting a few answers from the students, the teacher ask them to work in groups to share their particular moments in the past with their peers in the group. Then, ten or fifteen minutes later, the teacher ask a volunteer from each group to talk about one of their friends’ stories to the class. It is a fun activity most of the time as students try to grasp what their friends were like, especially when the topic is about physical features.


                Question Circle. This next part concerns the common misunderstanding students have on when and how to use the verb to be was/were or simple past verbs. Notably, they often say; “I was ate dinner with my friend last night, I disappointed with him yesterday.”, instead of  “I ate dinner with my friend last night, I was disappointed with him yesterday.” All students have to do is to make the proper question for each wh-questions form provided, in the simple past, that is. Students then take it in turns to ask the person on their right, in their respective group, a question he/she had just made. The rest of the students listen to the question and the corresponding answer, and make corrections whenever necessary. This is a good practice of peer-teaching by the students themselves. They will always turn to the teacher whenever there is an argument about the correct question or answer though. So, the teacher should always be on alert.

                Grammar Gamble. Simple competitions are always exciting for students, despite the fact that there is no prize. Hence, after a long group discussion and corrections, it is now time to put their lesson mastery to the test. Still in their groups, students are given a sheet containing a list of sentences with some grammatical errors. They are simple present and simple past sentences. Next, students are given toy dollar bills as their capital for the bets they are going to make. The teacher plays as a house. Each group discusses each sentence and then agrees on a bet it will put on that sentence. Should the sentence is correct the group will get an equal amount of money to the one they bet on, or lose them in the case of a false sentence, exactly the way a gambling game is done. Group pride plays a part here, it should be a fun activity.

                Board Game. Considering that students are now adequately equipped with the necessary tool to talk about past events better, students are to share their past experiences with their colleagues, guided by sentences written on a board. It may be old-fashioned, but the relax atmosphere it has will prompt students to speak freely. And the random sequence of questions provided will make it even more fun and surprising for them. Nonetheless, the teacher ought to monitor the activity and make necessary corrections, as ever.

    Conclusion
                A wide range of techniques to teach the simple past tense are available. These are only some of those proved to be working in my class. And they bring improvements to my students’ ability, to some extent. It is definitely at the teacher’s disposal to use the technique(s), he/she renders proper for the students. Adding another option is what this simple writing all about.

    Bibliography
                The worksheets are taken from eslbase.com.

    For the Question Circle, Grammar Gamble, and Board game can be downloaded from the following link http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14951666/attachments_2011_06_19.zip


    Note: Just copy the link, and paste it to a new window

  • 1 comment:

    1. Hi there. Grammar Gamble is great and I used it a lot when I was teaching. In fact, I loved it so much I created a free version of it here: http://www.grammargamble.com :)

      ReplyDelete

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