D. Hann D. Hann

The tenses of storytelling -- Don't Forget Language Analysis
Intermediate level


A review of the most common verb tenses that are used when telling stories in English.


Abc Oxford workbook sheets
Abc LifeStyle, Longman
Abc LifeStyle, Longman

Main Aims

  • To provide clarification if needed
  • To provide review of in the past simple, past perfect and past continuous.

Subsidiary Aims

  • to get used to a new TP situation, new class, etc.
  • To try a way of checking the concept that suits T's beliefs.


Warmer/Lead-in (3-5 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students

Ask students to discuss their life stories in pairs. This will set the stage to talk about past tenses

Test #1 (8-10 minutes) • To gauge students' prior knowledge of the target language

In talking about themselves -- in the introduction -- there are many relevant questions that use these verb tenses. How long have you been living in Istanbul? pp When did you start studying English? sp What were you doing when the lights went out? pc For concept checking: in addition to CCQs, ask for someone to explain in their own words what X or Y means, with support from their classmates, and only try to direct them if they seem really confused. Ask for lots of examples.

grammar analysis (15-20 minutes) • To clarify areas of the target language where students had difficulty in the first test stage

Go over and discuss the grammar in depth. Give them some examples (write as needed or crib from book -- with credit). Ask a few CCQs. Affirmative Negative Questions short answers Past simple: did this happen many times? Used to tell stories: Yesterday I went to Taksim and had a Krispy Kreme donut. Present Perfect: when did the action start? is it going on now? go over form: had/have/has Worksheet -- Face2Face Students' workbook, Tims, Redston, Cunningham. Cambridge 2006 Past continuous: did this action happen once, briefly? did something happen while it was going on? This tends to be the most common use of past continuous: to put a series of events or actions into the form or a story. Two types of verbs: the verbs whose actions continue for a while, and verbs that are short action, over and done. which of these is which? (give me some verbs and expressions) study, eat, kick, smile, dance, drink, smoke, hit, bite, break give me some more verbs. While I was eating my donut, my phone rang. [something like "eat" could be either, actually, depending on the context -- we'll talk about that too] Draw a timeline of these events. (or get someone else to do it) With a little preamble, give them 5B and have them work in pairs/groups. When they are finished, have them come up to the board and draw timelines of the different sentences. Review, recap.

Free practice (13-15 minutes) • To provide students with free practice of the target language

Write a short paragraph about your life, or someone else's, that uses all three verb tenses. Read and compare your paragraphs. Discuss and review language used.

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