Tenses are the most important part of grammar. It is also one of the most difficult topics to teach because it can be confusing for children to familiarize themselves with the system of tenses. Teachers find it hard to simplify the rules of tenses so that students feel comfortable applying them. The most important place to start is to let students know that tenses are nothing to be afraid of. They could be encouraged to try and make mistakes initially so that they can master them eventually. Using relatable examples while teaching tenses has proven effective. They could also explain the concept with the use of tenses charts. The teachers could engage the students in a better way by using these tenses charts.
Each professional has their teaching style, but a broad framework is always useful. This article will discuss some tips that could prove helpful while teaching tenses.
Use the tense grid
Introducing tenses to students can be tough. A visual representation of the time frames before going deeper into the subject has proven successful. The grid system is the best visual representation of tenses. It is the teacher’s choice to introduce tenses. It comprises a grid with the past, the present, and the future on the horizontal axis and the three forms of verbs, namely; simple, continuous, and perfect, on the vertical axis. The advantage of the grid system is that you can explain a single example in various tenses and show the comparison at a single glance. All the 9 verb tenses are visible side by side, which brings clarity to most students. They can refer to it later as well if they have any doubts.
Teach a single time frame at a time
It is essential to slow down during transitions. Tenses can be very confusing when you change time frames. While moving from one tense to the other, you must ensure there is no overlapping. Focus entire lessons on a single tense to avoid any confusion. For example, if you teach simple present or present continuous, stick to present tense only. You can give writing exercises that help students practice a single tense. Using as many examples as possible from real life is essential for students to apply tenses rules to sentences. Try to include as many verb tenses as possible so that they learn different forms of verbs simultaneously.
Practice a time frame before moving on to the next
Tenses are a mammoth task when it comes to the time taken to cover the topic through lessons. You can practice tense with students via audiovisuals and games. This can often make teachers hasty and move to the next time frame before students are confident with the previous tense. This can often lead to errors while using tenses in sentences later. Tense is a topic that is more about application than rules. As a teacher, you should help students get accustomed to the sound and tonality of tense to spot an error when they read or hear it. Practice is the key to acing the tense. You can use practice worksheets frequently to check your student’s progress.
Distinguish between the simple, continuous, and perfect
When you teach tenses in class, draw a clear line of distinction between the sub-categories within the time frame of the present, past, and future. The difference between the present, past, and future tense is relatively easier to break down than the simple, continuous, and perfect. This is because some students find it difficult to understand the simple and perfect tense usage. Continuous tense is relatively simpler to explain. You should be precise while differentiating between the simple tense and continuous tense so that students do not accidentally use them interchangeably. For example, ‘I have' cannot be written as ‘I am having’ or ‘I walk’ cannot be expressed as ‘I am walking.’ The difference in the meaning of these phrases should be made clear to students.
Take time with the tricky tenses
The future perfect tense is particularly tricky to teach because an action is being completed in the future. The idea may seem abstract to students initially, but you must give them time to absorb the time frame slowly. You can use examples that can be practically explained. Time-specific examples are a good idea while discussing the future perfect tense. For instance, "You will have eaten your dinner by 8 pm" is a simple yet effective illustration of the future perfect tense. Try not to enforce memorization with tenses because it is such a vast subject and has so many applications that rote-learning will never work for tenses.
Revision is an essential part of all topics in grammar, but it is very relevant for tenses. If you teach tense to students in May, they will need revision through the months of June, July, and August. With three months of practice, students will be able to consolidate their learning. Quick weekly revisions are also a good idea when it comes to tense. You can ask students to keep the tense-grid handy and keep reviewing it.
Additionally, take 10 minutes out from your lesson to revise the application of tenses with students. Initiate a sentence construction activity in class and allow students to participate in making sentences using the correct tense. Practice worksheets and assessments should be avoided because they can make students nervous, but an evaluation will jog their concepts at the end of the month.
Tenses are one of the fundamentals of any language. As teachers, it is your responsibility to build a foundation for the English language for your students. Tenses go a long way and affect a person's verbal and writing skills. Teachers must understand that once a student has been taught erroneous tense habits, they are difficult to reverse. Clarity and a comprehensive approach to teaching tenses are probably the most effective. As a teacher, you can keep a few checkers to make sure your students become comfortable with tenses and apply them fluently during conversations and written communications.
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