7 Activities for Teaching the Present Perfect for the ESL Classroom
Teaching new tenses to students of a foreign language is often not as easy as you might anticipate, especially when the tense you are trying to teach them does not exist in their native language. The following 7 activities for teaching the present perfect for the ESL classroom will help your students pick up the tense in no time!
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1. Great Accomplishments
This is a great warm-up activity to make your students understand what the present perfect is all about. After teaching the structure of the tense, have your students write down 2-3 things they have accomplished in their lives. When they are finished, have your students share their statements with the class, for example, “I have won a speech contest,” “I have traveled to America,” or “I have learned to play the piano.”
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2. Have You Ever?
This exercise can be an “add-on” to the “Great Accomplishments” game or also played separately. For this activity, have your students write down statements about what they did in the simple past on a sheet of paper, for example, "I ate Thai food yesterday." Next, have your students exchange their sheets of paper and add statements using the present perfect and the word “before”, such as “Ann has eaten Thai food before.” Then, start a discussion about whether other students have or have not done the activity mentioned before.
3. How Many Times Since?
Have your students come up with common daily activities and collect the responses on the board. Next, call up the students in turn and ask them how many times they have performed this action since a certain point in time, for example: “How many times have you brushed your teeth since last night?” A student might answer: “I have brushed my teeth twice since last night.” Once the students feel confident, have them form questions with the vocabulary on the board and ask other students.
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4. Great Ambitions
Ask your students to write down 2-3 things that they have not done yet but are planning to do. This exercise focuses on the correct usage of the word “yet” together with the present perfect. A possible answer could be “I haven’t been to Europe yet, so I really want to go there next year!”
5. Most Deprived
Have your students move their chairs to sit in a circle, one student stands in the middle of the circle and announces something he has never done before. All of the students who have done it, need to stand up and find another chair and the student from the middle of the circle also needs to find an empty chair. The student that is unable to find an empty chair, takes the next turn.
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6. Bucket Lists
Have your students create a bucket list for this year, the summer holidays or their life. Next, the students present their bucket list items to the class and ask their peers if they have done one of the actions they mentioned.
7. Since or For?
These two words are often confused by students of the English language. Therefore, it is recommended to spend quite some time covering their differences. Have your students form an equal number of statements using “since” and “for” and share them with the class. Start a discussion about the sentences and explain any incorrect usages.
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These 7 activities for teaching the present perfect for the ESL classroom are ideal to help your students understand the structure and usage of the present perfect.
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