A Lesson On The Past Perfect Tense For ESL-EFL Students

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A Lesson On The Past Perfect Tense For ESL-EFL Students Powered By Docstoc
					I was recently asked how to 鈥渄 o 鈥?a lesson on the past perfect and had pause for
thought. To begin with why would anyone want to do a lesson based solely on the past
perfect? The answer was that it was for a university assignment and a lesson plan just
on the past perfect was needed. I gave the student some advice but suspect that she
won 鈥檛 get very good marks for it as it isn 鈥檛 what was required 鈥?a lesson
plan only on the past perfect. How to Plan a Lesson to Introduce the Past Perfect
Tense Firstly, we can assume that students have already been introduced to the present
perfect and past simple tenses and understand how to use them. Do a quick recap as
an introduction eliciting the differences between the simple past and the present
perfect from your students. Depending on their answers, you may need to revise these
tenses before going on to the main part of the lesson. Introduce the Past Perfect
Explain how the past perfect is used and how it differs from the present perfect and
the past simple. The past perfect refers to a particular point of time in the past whereas
the present perfect refers to an action started in the past which it is possible to
continue in the future. There is no such choice with the past perfect. You can
demonstrate this with the following sentences: Alfred Hitchcock made many films.
(Past simple 鈥?he 鈥檚 dead and can 鈥檛 make any more.) Leonardo di Caprio
has made many films. (Present perfect 鈥?he is alive and will probably make more
films.) Marlon Brando had made many films by the time he was forty. (Past perfect
with specific point of time as reference.) There are other uses of all tenses but keep it
simple for this lesson. When We Use the Past Perfect Ask students to give you the rule
for each sentence and to explain the different meanings in the sentences in the
paragraph above; then go on to ask when we use the present perfect. You need to elicit
the use of 鈥渇 or 鈥?and 鈥渟 ince 鈥?and 鈥渁 lready 鈥?and 鈥測 et 鈥? Point out
the time differences with sentences on the board for comparison between the past and
present perfect. 鈥淔 or 鈥?鈥?Jim has lived in that house for 6 years. Jim had lived
there for 6 years before he fixed the roof. 鈥淪 ince 鈥?鈥?Penny has lived there
since 1999. Penny had lived there since 1999 and didn 鈥檛 really want to move
when she got promoted. 鈥淎 lready 鈥?鈥?I 鈥檝 e already done the preparation for
tomorrow 鈥檚 presentation. I had already done the preparation for tomorrows
presentation when the boss rang to remind me about it. 鈥淵 et 鈥?鈥?I haven 鈥檛
done it yet. I hadn 鈥檛 yet done it when I rang you. I had it still to do. (Formal use)
Once again ask students to explain the differences in these sentences. Some Areas
That Confuse Students If you know the student 鈥檚 first language then you can point
out the differences in the way the present and past perfect tenses are used. You are at
an advantage in this, as a teacher who can 鈥檛 use contrastive methods of analysis
might spend a lot of time correcting students 鈥?errors and not at first realize that
these are being made because of the way the tenses are used in the mother tongue. If
you don 鈥檛 know how the students use the tenses in their own language, then ask
them to explain it to you. They enjoy being teachers for a change, especially if they
are adults and business executives. One thing that confuses students is the fact that we
can use 鈥渉 ad had.鈥?Many students think this is a mistake when teachers write it
on the board or when they see it in books, so you might want to explain that it is the
correct form of the verb 鈥渢 o have 鈥?in the past perfect. Giving Tasks to Students
Based on the Grammar Point You can devise your own tasks for reinforcing and
practising the use of tenses. You can use two forms of the verb in a sentence and ask
students to underline the correct form, or verbs in brackets for them to put in the
correct tense (although you need to be careful with these sometimes as the answer
may depend on the student 鈥檚 interpretation of the sentence. Sometimes there
might be several "correct" answers.) If you make your own tasks, don 鈥檛 always
make the tense taught the correct answer. Mix up the tenses but have the past perfect
(in this case) in the majority of the sentences. Such tasks are not really good ways of
seeing if the students have understood what has been taught. The best way to learn is
to use, and so you could ask students to write a short story such as this one, beginning
with the following sentence: 鈥淏 y 10 o 鈥檆 lock last Monday morning I had had
enough!鈥濃€ here should follow a list of things that had gone wrong all in the past
perfect. Students learn best when they are productive and using vocabulary in context
in their own speaking and writing. Often we as teachers can 鈥檛 think of how to get
students to do this, so don 鈥檛 forget the value of mediation tasks for spoken
English and journal or diary writing for students own use.
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