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Past Tense on the First Day

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This isn't so much an idea as to let you know how I teach the first day of past tense to my students.

First I teach how to make -ed verbs. On the board I write:

1. talk + ed = talked
2. smile + ed = smiled
3. cry -y + ied = cried
4. hop + ped = hopped

I explain the rules that go along with each rule for forming a past tense verb. For example when a verb ends in consonant y, minus the y and add ied. But, when it is vowel y, treat it like the verbs in the first example, and just add ed.

Then I use my verb flash cards (all infinitives) and ask the students to tell me if the verbs are type 1, 2, 3 or 4.

The next step is to teach pronunciation of -ed. On the board this time I write:

1. t watched
2. id wanted
3. d wondered

I use exactly the same flash cards to get the students to tell me if the verbs pronunciation in the past tense is a type 1, 2, or 3.

Next I write all the infinitives of all the irregular past tense verbs that they have learned and ask the students (esp. those ahead of the group) to help me write up the past tense. Then I tell them that for once, I know the future and the future is that they will be getting tested on these verbs so they
had better memorize them!

Last of all, I have been writing up (a slightly modified) version of a joke circulated on the ESL teacher employment discussion page. You see, it is handily all in past tense!
"There were two boys. One was American. The other was his Korean friend. They went to the lake. They rode in a canoe. The canoe tipped over. They couldn't swim. Who drowned first?"

I act out tipped over and drowned to teach the new vocabulary and we translate the joke into Korean. They (of course) guess that the American drowned first, but have no good reason why. So I tell them why... the American kid was screaming "Help!" and swallowing the water, but the Korean was screaming "Hel-puh!" and therefore spitting out the water. (Loads of thanks to the teacher who supplied the joke.) Korean students love to laugh and have no trouble at all taking it in good humor. If they didn't I could make it into time to lecture about correct pronunciation, but they've all enjoyed it.

Anyway... so there is a good lesson plan for teaching the very introduction of past tense. Good teaching to you all!

Name: Cedar Blomberg
Email: [email protected]
Location: Daegu, Korea

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