Teach English in Hede Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Tense system is one of the areas of the English language that can create major problems for both students and teachers. We can state there are twelve tenses, in that there are three different times in English: present, past and future; each of these times also has four aspects: simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous. It is very important that the teacher has a good knowledge of the tense system and that he/she knows the most suitable tools to teach it. In addition to the form in which a tense is presented, it is appropriate to know what are its main usages, the typical student mistakes and some teaching ideas. Present simple is used with habitual or routine actions, permanent situations and facts, commentaries, directions and instructions, newspaper headlines, present stories, historical sequence. Activate stage teaching ideas include: questionnaires, "guess my profession" game or information-gap activities. Present continuous is used: to talk about an action that is in progress at the time of speaking; to talk about a temporary action that is not necessarily in progress at the time of speaking; to emphasize very frequent actions; for backgrounds events in a present story; to describe developing situations; to refer to a regular action around a point of time. Teaching ideas may include: developing situations (graphs, charts or tables) and actions in progress (mime; Pictionary; picture dictations). Present perfect is used when we talk about finished action that happened at an indefinite time; when we are thinking about completed past actions carried out in an unfinished time period at the time of speaking; when we talk about something which began in the past and is still true now, at the time of speaking; when we describe past actions with present results. Teaching ideas include activities such "Find someone who..."; "What have you done today" or "Change the room". Present perfect continuous is used to communicate an incomplete and ongoing activity, when we want to say how long it has continued; to describe a recently finished, uninterrupted activity which has a present result. A typical student mistake is using verbs that don't take the continuous form. Teaching ideas include: activities in which a student take a piece of paper with a past activity and a result written on it; students surveying the class to find out who has been doing something the longest. Regarding past tenses, past simple is used for actions completed at a definite time in the past. Most mistakes or errors with past simple emerge from the use of did or did not for questions and negatives, and use of irregular verbs. Activate stage teaching ideas include: card games; narrative story telling in conjunction with past continuous and past perfect; interview role-play. Past continuous is used for interrupted past actions; it can also indicate gradual development that took place in the past; it can express an action which began before that time and probably continued after it; it is used in descriptions. Typical student errors/mistakes are: omission of the verb to be or of the -ing; use of -ing with state verbs and confusion with past simple. Teaching ideas include: detective game; use of diaries or journals; telling stories. Past perfect verbs represent actions that occurred before other actions in the past. Some teaching ideas are: story telling/writing in conjunction with other past tenses; giving students a final situation and ask them to think of reasons why that situation had happened. Past perfect continuous is mainly used to talk about longer actions or situations in the past that had been going on continuously up to the past moment that we are thinking about. Major errors with this structure are: omission of either "had" and "been"; failure to add -ing to the main form; other problems may occur as it can be easily confused with the past perfect. The future has many different tenses and expresses various ideas, resulting in one of the most complex areas of the English language. Future simple can relate to: future facts and certainties; promises; predictions (based on no present evidence); assumptions/speculations; spontaneous decisions; threats. Typical errors are the use of will plus infinitive and will plus -ing; confusion between "be going to" and the future simple is also common. Some teaching ideas include: fortune telling; going on a holiday / lost in the desert: what will you take?; winning the lottery: what will you do?; predicting future changes. Future continuous is used: to say that something will be in progress at a particular moment in the future; to "predict the present" to say what we think or guess might be happening now; for polite enquiries referring to other people's plans; to refer to future events which are fixed or decided. A common mistake is missing part of the structure of this tense; moreover, the idea that the action will continue around a specific point in the future may cause confusion. Teaching ideas include: arranging diaries/dates; trying to get out of the date from hell; illustrative situations. Future perfect is used to say that something will have been done, completed or achieved by a certain time in the future. This tense can often be confused with future perfect continuous: therefore a clear distinction between completion of action by a certain time in the future and how long something will have continued for by a certain time needs to be made. Teaching ideas include: filling future diaries and eliciting questions in the future perfect; invention of an extremely successful future career; choosing a famous historical personage and note down important dates in his/her life. Future perfect continuous is used to say how long something will have continued by a certain time. Typical student errors/mistakes include: omission of -ing or of either "have" and "been". A good teaching idea is to ask students questions such as: "How long will you have been learning English by next summer?" or "How long will you have been living in your present house by next year?" and so on.