Present Perfect and Simple Past Activity | ESL Grammar

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P.P. + Simple Past survey for ESL students
P.P + Simple past survey for ESL students

Grammar teaching—many teachers and students think it’s boring, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is designing fun, engaging activities that help students practice using the language in an interesting way. Keep on reading for more details about this activity to practice to present perfect and simple past together.

A Fun Present Perfect and Simple Past Activity

One of my favourite things to with my university students in Korea are surveys. They’re excellent for getting students up out of their seats, moving around the classroom and talking to a wide variety of people. They also encourage good listening because students have to ask one or two relevant follow-up questions.

When you’re teaching the present perfect and simple past together, surveys are perfect because the initial questions is in P.P. form and then students have to switch to the simple past.

Here’s the survey I use in my own classes:

Present Perfect and Simple Past Survey Activity

How this Survey Activity Works

Students have to ask their classmates the “Have you ever” questions, changing the verb in brackets into Past Participle form. If the answer is yes, they then switch to simple past (like normal conversational style) and ask 2 follow-up questions, with the partner making sure to answer using the correct verb form for the simple past.

If the answer is no, the student chooses another question form the survey form. It’s the ultimate present perfect and simple past activity because it gets the students up out of their seats, talking to different classmates and requires them to switch between the two tenses for the duration of the activity.

This activity corresponds to Unit 2 in Touchstone Level 3 Student’s Book 

A Few Ground Rules for Surveys

In order to make this activity go as smoothly as possible, I let my students know a few rules:

  • This activity is for 1-1 speaking. It is not for talking together in big groups.
  • The main purpose is to practice speaking English and using the grammar we’ve just learned. So, please speak in English and not your first language.
  • You only need to write 1-2 words of your partner’s answer, not a full sentence.
  • You don’t need to finish the survey during the time, just try to get as much done as you can. It’s better to take some time to ask some good follow-up questions.

They’re Perfect for Getting Students to Ask Questions

Check out this short video for why this skill is important and how to teach it:

Even more ESL speaking games and activities:

If you’re looking for some more speaking games and activities for your ESL classroom, look no further than this book. It’s available on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The (extremely cheap!) digital version can be read on any smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC simply by downloading the free Kindle reading app.

Check it out on Amazon here: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults.

Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it as a handy reference guide for your lesson plans. Or, take a copy with you to your favourite coffee shop on your phone or tablet for a lesson planning session.

How is the Book Organized?

Each activity in the book starts with a brief overview so you can get a grasp of the big picture and see, at a glance whether or not it’ll work for your students. Then, it gets into the detailed, step-by-step instructions that start with the prep you need to do before class (if there is any), then what to actually do with your students, and finally any follow-up things.

Also check out the teaching tips for each activity. They’ll help you to avoid some of the most common mistakes so that you can make your classes as awesome as possible.

Does it sound like exactly what you need? Check out this ESL speaking activity book for yourself over on Amazon:


Have your Say about Teaching the Present Perfect and Simple Past Together

How do you teach this grammar point? Do you have any tips or tricks for how to do it well? Leave a comment below and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.

Last update on 2019-08-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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