Textbook Grammar focus: Past Perfect
Group Background Information: Earlier this semester we started focusing on verb tenses and stories. As I have already shared in one of my posts in June working with mixed-levels and content in a higher level than their language level is challenging, but stories help them to connect to the language content and it is engaging especially if I can add visual tools can be used along (videos/videoclips/images). We are almost at the end of our school term (From February to November) and I have learned more in this year with my PLN and my Students than I have ever before.
Group age: 14 year-old learners (from beginner to intermediate level – 9th graders)
So Debbie had a bad morning yesterday!
The textbook brings a text (a short-one) that focus on why Debbie had a bad morning. As I had already assigned the text + exercises for them to do at home, I didn’t want to focus on teaching/explaining much. Besides some of the Ss had already studied that in the afternoon classes, so it would be an opportunity to learn, check what they already knew and also to review.
Instead of just working on reading the text again in class and correcting the exercises, I prepared the image above using the same text (presenting the same text in another way for repetition of the language and check what they have understood from previous home assignment) and asked them to read in pairs and discuss the questions. I noticed though that they would use simple past for everything. On a daily basis none of them use past perfect yet.
It didn’t take long for them to explore the events in the timeline as most of them remembered the events from the text as they had already read it at home. At this point they get the meaning and feeling for the text, but unable to focus on the form. So it is important to make them notice the forms in the text and how it changes the sequence of events as it is laid out in the text.
In the image below, I presented the text in a different way again from the textbook. This time I changed all the verbs to the simple past and instructed them to work in pairs once again to discuss where the past perfect would go and why. Before they started doing that, I checked if they were all aware of the form of past perfect and compare three main verbs in the simple past and past perfect on a corner of the board.
After allowing them plenty of time to discuss, I told them that we were looking for 6 simple past verbs to be changed to past perfect. When they were ready, I pointed out the ones that needed to be changed and the conversation around why they chose this one and not that one arouse naturally. Now it is time to have plenty of practical tasks.
My next move is to invite them to write texts using past tenses! Last week they actually interviewed me while playing the game and as a follow-up I’m going to give the group the slips of paper back with the following instructions.
- Select the questions/answers that you feel are relevant to add to your text;
- Decide if you need to ask more questions and feel free to interview me again;
- Put the information you have in a logical order.