Todd Johns Todd Johns

Pre-Intermediate level


The students will quickly be tested on their knowledge of past progressive by describing what people were doing when a photo was taken. The photo will introduce the context of Weird/Aliens. The students will then be taught how to use and construct the past progressive and how it is different from past simple. Next, students will learn a few of the uses for past progressive (interrupted action/simultaneous actions.) The lesson will end with free practice of past progressive. Students will interrogate people who claim to have been abducted by aliens a week ago.


Abc Street picture with alien.
Abc PP worksheet
Abc Candid Alien Photo

Main Aims

  • To provide practice of the past continuos tense in the context of the "weird."

Subsidiary Aims

  • To provide fluency speaking practice in conversation/interrogation in the context of aliens.


Introduction/Test (3-5 minutes) • To introduce the context and test students' knowledge of past progressive.

Tell the students that an important photo was taken yesterday at 11:00 a.m. Emphasize the photo was taken yesterday. When was the photo taken? (Yesterday at 11:00 a.m.) Work in pairs and describe what they were doing yesterday when this picture was taken. Listen for use of past progressive use. Make notes of sentences that would make more sense with past progressive. Ask students if they spotted anything "weird" in the picture (an alien.) Try to elicit "alien" and "UFO"

Teach Grammer (11-13 minutes) • To introduce students to past progressive and when it is used.

Write the sentences from the introduction on the board Ex. The lady was walking past the boy. (p.p./past progressive) The friends talked.(p.s./past simple) - Point out that the focus is "when" the picture was taken. Therefore, they were in the process of "talking" when the photo was taken. "The friends talked" does not show that it was ongoing and could mean at any time. = The friends were talking Tell the students we use this to talk about an ongoing action in the past. Draw a time line of pp. Also draw a timeline of of ps Was the picture take in the past, present, or future? (Past) Was the lady "walking" before the picture? (Yes) Was she walking after the picture? (Yes) Now draw an "x" for the photo being taken during the "sitting" arc. Form: Point to the different parts of the sentence and elicit the parts of speech. The lady was walking. (Subject) + (was/were) + (verb -ing)... When do we use was/were? was=singular subject (excluding "you") were= plural subject (except "you") You was sitting at the bar? (No, were) He were sitting at the bar? (No, was) They were sitting at the bar? (Yes) Was/Were is NOT stressed. Drill the students on the above sentence. Rules for adding -ing silent "e" is dropped | come-coming double "ee" is kept | agreeing After short stressed vowel + final consonant doubled sit-sitting -ie endings become "y" lie-lying How do we make this negative? Subject + was/were + NOT +verb-ing The lady was not walking... Do exercise 1 "Work with a partner to fill in the blank with the past progressive" Working together or separately? Together Ex. "When I phoned my friends, they ___were playing___ monopoly. Check answers with the class If students need extra practice, do the second exercise.

Other uses of past progressive (4-6 minutes) • To show students that past progressive can be used for simultaneous actions and past interruptions.

Are there other times we can use past progressive? The lady was walking while the alien was sitting. Point out the subject+was+verb-ing for both parts Draw a timeline with two simultaneous actions. What if: The alien was sitting when the couple screamed. Where is the past progressive? (was sitting) What happened while they were sitting? (The couple screamed) Is this past progressive? (No, past simple) So we can use past progressive to show an interruption in the past. Draw a timeline on the board of the alien sitting with an "x" and a dotted line afterwards. Was the alien sitting before the scream? (Yes) Was the alien sitting when the couple screamed? (Yes) Was the alien sitting after the scream? (We don't know) Have the class do exercise "B" on the PP handout with past continuous + past simple Work in pairs and fill in the blanks

Free Practice (20-25 minutes) • For students to question each other about what they were doing when a photo was taken.

Draw a UFO and ask the class what it is. Draw two people below and a laser beam bringing them up. Elicit (abducting/taking up) Tell the students that we are going to play a game. Pick the two strongest students from the lesson and ask if they want to be the "the abductees" Have the two students stand at the front of the class. Tell the class that these two took this photo last Saturday with their phone right before being taken up. Hand out a few copies of the alien photo (including the abductees.) They were gone from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Do we believe they took these photos? (No) Do we believe they were taken by the aliens? (No) You are the police/investigators In a few minutes we are going to ask them questions individually and see if their stories match. If they don't match their stories 3 times the police win. If they match their stories, they win. Who was taken by aliens? (The two students) Who are the police? (the rest of the class) When were they taken? (Last Saturday from 1-4) Are we going to question them together or separate? (Separately) How many times can they get their stories wrong? (3) Should you write down your questions and the answers? (Yes) Have the two students go outside the classroom and prepare a story as similar as possible. Have students prepare questions about what was happening before and after the abduction. Let the abductees take turns being interviewed by the police. Listen for past progressive usage and make corrections Change abductees if there is extra time.

Web site designed by: Nikue