Teaching the Present and Past Progressive Tenses

Throughout our experience of teaching English in many countries, we have seen students sigh and frown when a new English language tense is about to be introduced. Consequently we have put special effort into providing plenty of practice after introducing the explanation of the grammar. The following paragraphs will briefly discuss the grammar and give some examples of practice activities.

You will want to teach the simple present tense first and provide the students with many practice activities and exercises.

The progressive tenses show that something is happening at a specific time in the present, the past or the future. The future progressive will be discussed in another article.

The present and past progressive tenses use the verb “to be” plus the present participle, which is formed by adding “ing” to the root form of the infinitive.

Present Tense Example: I am walking to town.

Past Tense Example: I was walking to town.

Good News! The progressive tense verbs are mostly regular.

go – going,   look – looking,    be – being

Exceptions: If the root verb ends in one silent “e” then drop the “e” and add “ing”.

Examples: come – coming,     drive – driving

Note above: Do not drop the “e” in “to be”

Try this Present Progressive dialogue with your students.

Read the dialogue to your students. Have them divide into groups of three and role-play it two or three times.

Narrator: Peter arrives at Sarah’s house. She is in another room.

Peter:         What are you doing, Sarah?

Sarah:        I’m trying on my new blue dress.

Peter:        Okay, but I’m hungry.

Sarah:        Are we eating at 7:00?

Peter:        Yes, and it’s 6:45 now.

Narrator:    Sarah comes into the room.

Peter:          Wow! You’re looking great.

Sarah:         Thanks Peter. Are we having Chinese food?

Peter:          Sure. Our friends are cooking it now. Can we go?

Sarah:         I’m ready and I’m hungry, too.

Past Progressive Tense Activity

Divide into groups of two or three. Ask each other these questions. Check your answers from the box.

1. Were you eating fish last night?

2. Were you drinking apple juice this morning?

3. Were you eating a hamburger last night?

4. Are you living across from a church?

5. Are you studying English?

6. Are you living beside your friend?

7. Were you phoning your friend last night?

8. Were you enjoying the theater last week?

Dialogues and activities such as the above give the students practice speaking in a real conversation. They also help the students to forget their fears about verb tenses. Small group conversations and activities facilitate learning while creating an opportunity for fun and laughter. They also provide activities that the students can do with their friends at a later time.

Related Sites:

Successful ESL Ltd.

Learning English with Laughter

Students using our curriculum learn their grammar.

About brian_mu8dft39

Successful ESL was created out of our first company, Learning English With Laughter which began in 1990 when we, George and Daisy Stocker, traveled to the historic city of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia, to teach English in a private language school. Communism was over and the people were embarking along the road to democracy. There were hundreds of students eager to learn the English Language, but suitable textbooks were non-existent. Consequently, we wrote as we taught, making countless revisions as we listened to the students' special needs. Upon returning to our home in Victoria, Canada, we have adapted the Teen-adult Series to meet the cultural needs of students in a number of different countries. A variety of adaptations have been achieved through contacts with many countries. Thousands of students have encouraged us to use a conversational approach to English that stresses communication in a variety of everyday situations. See our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Successful-ESL-Ltd/322661351104350
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