Teaching Tenses to ESL Students

23 Apr 2022 | ESLTeachers

Tenses are a tough skill to master for ESL students. Even high level ESL speakers and learners have difficulties with tenses and often get confused or make elementary mistakes. This blog covers some of the best ways to teach tenses and elevate your ESL classroom.

First, let’s start with the basics. Tenses are used to indicate the time frame in which an action is taking place. Simple enough, right? But, there are 12 tenses in the English language, each with its own unique rules and uses. It’s no wonder why ESL students often struggle with them!

One way to make tenses easier for your students is to use real-life examples. For example, let’s take a look at the present tense. Explain to your students that the present tense is used to describe actions happening right now. To demonstrate this, you can ask your students to describe what they are doing at the moment. This will give them an opportunity to practise using the present tense in a practical and relatable way.

Another way to teach tenses is through the use of storytelling. Ask your students to tell a story, but with a twist. Encourage them to switch between different tenses throughout the story, so that they can see how the tense changes can alter the meaning of the story. This activity is a fun way for students to practise using different tenses, and it also helps them to understand how tenses can impact the narrative.

Finally, don’t forget to use humour! While tenses can be a dry and dull subject, incorporating humour into your lessons will keep your students engaged and entertained. For example, when teaching the past tense, you could use the old joke, “Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other side.” By using humour, you can make the subject matter more memorable and easier to understand.

Teaching tenses to ESL students can be a challenge, but with a bit of creativity and humour, it can also be a lot of fun! By using real-life examples, storytelling, and humour, you can help your students to grasp the complexities of the English language and become confident and competent speakers.