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Julia's Verb Tense Fluency Speed Competition

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Hey. Let's hear it for the past perfect continuous and all other verb tenses!

1) Teach/practice/review - whatever - the particular verb tense with your class.

2) Allow your class to practice the verb tense in pairs to become more familiar with the structure and when it would be used.

3) Now divide the class into teams: two teams, or three or four if the class is huge. On each team should be three to six people.

4) Divide the board into columns: one column for each team. (Two teams of four to six each is ideal...)

5) Let each team come up with a team name. (Last week we had "Monday's Blues" and "Monday's Rhythm"....

6) The first member from each team comes to the board. Each student standing at the board gets a marker and prepares to write as fast as possible. The rest of his team, sitting in their desks or at the table, prepares to help the writer by screaming out the hopefully correct words of the sentence.

7) The instructor lets the writers know what to write by describing a situation which the writers must then scribe in the previously-decided-on verb tense.

For example: we're doing past perfect continuous, so the instructor says something like:

"Yesterday I went to my sister's house. Her two kids, Jamie and Alicia, were in a mess. They had torn clothes, they had dirty faces and one had a black eye. They were both angry."

The writers, with the help of their teams behind them, now know the situation, and know what tense they have to write the situation in. Their team helps them to pen as fast as possible:

"They had been fighting."

You can do this speed competition for any tense. The instructor can glean situations from any grammar book ie Grammar In Use by referring to the appropriate tense page to pose the situations.

This speed competition is ACE for several reasons: it shows students who are still weak in a particular tense just how weak they are; it forces the students to become nimble in the tenses, it reviews over and over the tense you are working on - don't use more than one tense per day and don't play this two days in a row to avoid confusion - and it breeds fluency. Ace, ace game.

Your students will be screaming out grammar in an intense, heated, passionate bid to get their correct sentences on the board first!

Move through the teams using different pairings.

Have fun!

Julia in Toronto
March 2001

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