METHODS OF TEACHING
INTRODUCING THE ENGLISH TENSES
The following text is an original presentation of the system of the English tense forms. It may be useful for those who want their pupils to think of the Simple tenses as very Simple ones, and to be eager to learn three Progressive tenses instead of one ‘Regressive’ tense, and also to achieve perfection in knowing the Perfect forms. The text is very general and does not include rules, because its goal is not to explain but to introduce the ideas of tenses and tense forms, and to point out some areas of their application. The pupils should bear in mind that the tenses – Present, Past, and Future – arewhat they wish to speak about, and the tense forms – Simple, Continuous, Perfect, Perfect Continuous – are how they report things, and are possible ways to present them. The text can be delivered in the form of a teacher’s report or it can be easily transformed into an activity for the whole class. It may be introduced either together with the first step into the system of tenses, or when the results are to be revealed (at the end of the term). You will need coloured cards (red, blue, green, yellow and black) with the letters Pr, P or F on them, you may also get headphones to imitate the described show, but that is not at all necessary. If the desks in the classroom are grouped, this gives the possibility to organise a team game where the players of a team (the Red team, the Blue team, etc.) must act out an illustrative situation or speak about any present, past or future event and demonstrate it, for example, as a general fact (the green) or as a continuing process (the yellow).
The English tense system seems so complicated, but it is within the teacher’s power to have his pupils see it from a different angle: the tenses don’t rule man, but man rules the tenses.
In the Near Future…
(a recorded voice:)
– Ladies and gentlemen! Dear Beginning Learners of the English language! Welcome to our sideshow, “Back to the Future”! It is the latest thing in learning the English tense forms. This new express-method is highly estimated by the linguists. Choose any flight: to the past or to the future, or, perhaps, you want to see your present with an Englishman’s eyes? Everything is at your command. Fill your knowledge-gap – buy your tickets; they are the permits into the intricate world of the tenses.
(at the launching pad:)
– Dear visitors! Attention! Boarding is beginning. Look at the colours of your tickets: they are red, green, blue, yellow and black. Proceed to the groups of ships having the same colours as your tickets. If the ticket is red, you are travelling to the Continuous tense forms; if it is green – to the Simple forms; if it is blue – to the Perfect; yellow – to the Perfect Continuous. If your ticket is black – you are really a plucky fellow and are going to explore the whole tense-net. Now notice the letters on your tickets and board the ships according to them: your flights are to the Past, to the Present or to the Future. We will meet on board!
– We are glad to welcome you on board our ships! Take your seats
please. And now a few words about the forthcoming flights into your own memory and
imagination. To the left you can see some sets. There are helmets with headphones and
spatial-holographical spectacles there. With the aid of these sets you will see your
holographical image, act in different situations, memorised or imagined. According to the
chosen tense form you will see illustrative examples. Travelling to the Continuous
tense-net, you will watch yourselves acting at some exact moments or in the process of
changing. If your choice is the Simple forms, your life will appear as a stream of
regular, habitual actions against the background of some general truths. Choosing the
Perfect tenses you will have to analyse life from the points of effects, results. If you
fly into the Perfect Continuous, you will perceive your actions as the continuing process,
the line of events will be divided into several duration periods. Our show usually lasts
one hour. So, make yourselves comfortable; put on the sets; fasten your seatbelts. The
flight is starting!
Open your minds and have a nice journey to the English tense forms!
By Iana Toropova, 4th year MPU student