New lesson plan series: Present Perfect Simple.
This week we’ve been busy preparing a new set of lesson plans centered around one of the most interesting tenses to learn and teach in the English language, the Present Perfect Simple (e.g. I have played). Those that have signed up for our private beta can now access five lesson plans (filed under verbs) designed to take an intermediate student from discovery of the tense to a comfortable use. Coincidentally, Jeffrey Hill’s wonderful review of our site (thanks Jeffrey!) specifically mentioned the Present Perfect Simple as a key tense that was missing from our library!
As a quick recap, the tense is typically used to describe events in the past that have a result now:
- They left the house at 6pm. (past simple) / They have left the house. (present perfect simple) – action in past with result now
The present perfect simple has always been a difficult tense to teach. For native English speaking EFL teachers who have never had to learn the tense, it can be difficult to explain to their students where the tense naturally comes into speech without using a cumbersome technical approach.
Many beginner to intermediate EFL students often make themselves understood using three key tenses (past, present, future). Yet, the present perfect simple is a fundamental tense in order to achieve natural speech (think about how many times a day you say “I’ve done” something).
Most of the materials we’ve used in the past for our private lessons have focused on a technical approach to teaching usage of the tense. Explaining to the student that the tense occurs before the present or in retrospect from the present can often lead to confusion (as the past simple also occurs before the present). It also doesn’t help that the Present Perfect Simple has the word present at the beginning of its name!
Our approach with these lesson plans has been to focus first on the construction of the tense rather than the usage. Our first three lesson plans in the series (Present-Perfect-Simple-1 to 3) focus on construction of the positive, negative and question form. Sustained repetition of the form ensures students obtain confidence to start using the tense in their daily speech. Our final two plans in the set (Present-Perfect-Simple-4 and 5) focus on testing usage by introducing the concepts of ever/never, gone/been, since/for and question words (How long, why, where, what). So far, we’ve had some great results with our private EFL students. Of course, we would love to hear how our lesson plans have facilitated your own private EFL lessons.