Jaco Olivier Jaco Olivier

Copy of Narrative Tenses
B2 level


In this lesson students learn about narrative tenses. They are given controlled tasks followed by freer practise exercises in the context of telling stories.


Main Aims

  • To provide review and clarification of the narrative tenses in the context of talking about the past.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide fluency speaking practice in talking about the past in the context of telling a story.


Lead-in (4-5 minutes) • To get the ss interested in the topic (narratives/stories).

Tell a short anecdote from your weekend then ask ss in pairs to tell each other an anecdote. Exploit text from previous lesson; instruct ss to read the text quickly looking for sentences that happen in the past and to mark them on their HO (given out in previous lesson). Write a couple of the sentences the ss picked out on WB and discuss with the class how using the past tense compares with using the present tense. Try to elicit "past tense used when telling a story/anecdote."

Meaning and form (7-8 minutes) • Clarify the narrative tenses

Write a marker sentence on the WB and ask the ss to point out the past tenses in the sentence: "He was just settling down to work when a car pulled up outside." CCQs: Did the car arrive after or during Obi settling down? (during) Do we use the Past Continuous tense for things that happen over a period of time? (yes) Do we use the Past Simple for the main events that happened in the past? (yes) Draw a timeline and indicate the events above where the past continuous and the past simple are used. Name the Continuous and Simple Past and write on WB. Write new sentence on WB: "He had made himself a coffee and was just settling down to work when a car pulled up outside." Elicit the place on the timeline where Obi made the coffee and call it the Past Perfect (good for establishing background information to a story before the main event). CCQ: Do we use the Past Perfect for events that happened before the main event? (yes) Is the Past Perfect a good way to establish the background? (yes) FB: Put the forms of the tenses on the WB (use different coloured pen) with their grammatical terms.

Controlled Grammar Exercise 1 (4-5 minutes) • Ss learn the rules of narrative tenses

Chest HO_gapfill and demo the task and instruct them to quickly read the text and fill in the gaps with the words "simple, perfect or continuous" in the right places. Split in to pairs and monitor their work. Tell them to briefly check each others' work and write the answer key on WB with the forms of each tense, stress and any pronunciation to look out for (weak forms).

Controlled Grammar Exercise 2 (4-5 minutes) • Clarify the narrative tenses.

Chest HO_multichoice and demo the task by circling the first multiple-choice answer in the text and instruct the ss to quickly read the text and circle the correct word choice for each numbered phrase or sentence. Monitor then write answer key on WB and tell ss to check their answers with their partner.

Controlled Grammar Exercise 3 (6-7 minutes) • Ss form tenses.

Chest HO_formtense and instruct ss to make the right tense from the word in brackets. Do an example on the WB. Put ss in to groups of three and distribute HO. Monitor. FB: Ask a ss from each group to read out a third of the text with their answers and error correct.

Freer Grammar Task (7-8 minutes) • Ss form their own phrases/sentences with the right tense

Place ss in to new pairs and chest HO_freergrammar and demo the task by completing for them the first question (B). Instruct them to work in closed pairs and form full sentences from the words given in brackets, using the correct tense. ICQ: "Will you use all of the words in the brackets?" (yes) "Will you make up full sentences or short phrases?" (sentences) Ask one ss in each pair to ask the questions and the other to complete the dialogue. Discuss in plenary if the answers are right or need fixing. FB: Write an incorrect answer on the WB and error correct with ss input. Hand out answer key.

Free Grammar Task (6-7 minutes) • Ss practise the narrative tenses

Split the ss in to two groups and instruct them to write down a story using the past simple, perfect and continuous tenses, one sentence at a time spoken by each ss in turn until everyone has said two sentences. ICQs: "Will you write down what everyone says?" (yes) "Are you writing a dialogue or a story?" (story) Start off the story by dictating "One day a woman was walking down the street." FB: arrange ss in to pairs (one from each group) and ask ss to read out their story to their partner. Allow for peer correction and add any error corrections you may have. Praise the ss for a job well done!

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