Ahlem Marrakchi Ahlem Marrakchi

Elementary level


In this lesson, students practise can/could/was/were in the context of describing past ability. In the process, they revise the use of can to express ability and practise listening for specific information.


Abc Markers
Abc Board
Abc Conversation handout
Abc Gap-fill cards
Abc Gap-fill handouts
Abc Answer key handouts
Abc Grammar-spot handouts

Main Aims

  • To practice can/could/was/were in the context of describing past ability

Subsidiary Aims

  • To revise can for ability


Warmer/Lead-in (2-3 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

The students watch two short videos. Both are singing performances of the same singer. One of them is good and the other is bad. The teacher will ask questions in order to elicit examples that correlate with the idea of ability.

Exposure (4-6 minutes) • To provide context for the target language through a text or situation

The students work on a gap-fill activity, in groups. The teacher gives two handouts to each group. One of them has information about the past and the other about the present. Each group gets a set of cards with the missing words written on them. The aim is for the students to glue the right card in the right gap, minding the differences between the present and the past contexts.

Clarification (4-6 minutes) • To clarify the meaning, form, and pronunciation of the target language

Students are invited to reflect on a grammar spot activity, in pairs. With an example, the teacher will try to elicit the meaning of the past of to be. More examples will be given to help the students deduce the positive and negative forms of to be. These same examples will be used for drilling, focusing on the long and short form pronunciations. The same procedure will be followed to study the past of can.

Controlled Practice (8-10 minutes) • To expose the students to the target language in context

Students look at a picture of two people talking and try to guess what they are talking about. Once they are given the handouts, they complete the conversation using was, were, wasn't, weren't and couldn't. They will then check each other's answers. The teacher will provide an answer key.

Semi-Controlled Practice (14-15 minutes) • To prepare students for free practice and involve the newer students

The teacher demonstrates the activity first by asking the students about activities they have done the day before. The students are expected to answer in the simple past. They then ask each other similar questions. This activity will be followed by some error corrections if time allows.

Free Practice (8-10 minutes) • To provide students with free practice of the target language

If there is extra time left, the teacher will demonstrate a Two Truths, One Lie game. The students will be invited to do the same, in pairs, using can, could, was, were and their negative counterparts.

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