Teaching the past continuous tense, you need to do two things. First, you have to teach the form. Second, you need to teach the usage of this tense. In my experience, if you teach both at the same time, students get sloppy with the form. Once, you start to correct them, they get confused because they are not sure whether the form or the usage was wrong. That is why I think that you need to devote several lessons to the form before you teach the usage.
In this post, I would like to offer you a set of activities to help your learners learn the form of the past continuous tense and then you can move to the usage. In this post, you will find an infographic, a rap song and a game to teach the form of the past continuous tense.
Past continuous – RAP SONG
Together with I_will_rap we created the following rap song. First, print the following worksheet, hand it out. Ask the students to fold it in such a way that they cannot see the last section.
Now, ask the students to listen and complete the lyrics.
Students can check their answers in the last section of the worksheet.
Then, ask the students to do the exercise two. Students read the lyrics again and answer the questions.
At the end of this part, I always ask my students to learn the lyrics by heart. In this way, they have to remember the form correctly.
Past continuous – infographic
Display or hand out the following infographic to your students. The infographic consists of two parts. The first part gives the general rule how to form this tense. At the beginning there is the subject. If the subject is just 1 person or thing, it is followed by WAS or WASN’T. If the subject are 2 or more people or things, they are followed by WERE or WEREN’T. WAS and WERE are then followed by VERB with the suffix -ING.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Past-continuous-infographic.jpg” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Full size image[/su_button]
The second part of the infographic demonstrates the rule.
Explain the infographic and ask your students to write as many sentences as they can using the second part of the infographic. In this way, they will practise the form. I usually give a time limit and it is a competition who will write most sentences.
Past continuous – Battle Ships
I use the following game either to introduce the form or to practise the form. First, I play against the class. I display the following Powerpoint presentation and students have to guess where the treasure is hidden. They give the coordinates by say the sentences in the past continuous tense. Reward the winner with a sweet and play the game again.
Once students understand the rules, hand out the following worksheet. Each student hides 3 ships in their grid. They try to hit their partner´s ships before their partner hits theirs.
Recently I have spent quite a lot of time designing various speaking activities for my students. In this post I would like to share two speaking activities which help students practise the usage of the past continuous tense and of the modal verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO. I hope both of the activities will be useful.
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Past continuous tense – game
In the first activity, students cut the following worksheet in two. Then they cut the activity cards.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Past-continuous-speaking-worksheet.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Past continuous tense – game worksheet[/su_button]
Students put six activity cards into the plan. Each activity goes into one square and they must not show their plan to anyone.
Then the students try to guess when the people were doing the activities. They ask in the following way:
A:Was Jane playing football?
B: Yes, she was.
A: Was she playing football at six o´clock?
B: No, she wasn´t. It is my turn.
Each student asks questions till their partner answers NO. Then they swap roles. The aim of each student is to guess all the activities and times in their partner´s plan. If a student guesses an activity and time, their partner removes the activity from their plan. The one who has no activities in their plan lost.
In my experience, students love this activity and it is a great way to practise the questions in the past continuous tense.
Modal verbs – board game
Print the following board game for your students and tell them to work in groups of three or four. Print the card with the correct answers too. Each group will need one set of the answers.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Modal-verbs-board-game.pdf” target=”blank” background=”#f56b68″ size=”6″]Modal verbs board game[/su_button]
Here are the correct answers:
The rules of the game are simple. Each student has a counter and they throw a die. They move ahead. If they produce the sentence they land on correctly, they stay where they landed, if they don´t they move back to the Start.
Explain that the students have to produce sentences with the verbs MUST, MUSTN´T and DON´T HAVE TO only.
Speaking activities – Your Opinion
Which activity do you like better:
The past continuous tense is one of the most graphical tenses in English. By “graphical” I mean that it is easy to demonstrate the difference between the past simple and past continuous tense in a video or in a short dramatic sketch. Unfortunately, I could not find a video demonstrating the difference betweent the two past tenses, and that is why I created one myself.
In addition to this video I created an infographic and an online quiz to practise the past continuous tense.
Past continuous – infographic
This infographic explains the form and the usage of the past continuous tense in a graphical way.
First, concentrate on the form. Explain that the students have to use the verbs WAS or WERE and the verb ending with -ing. Then explain how the negative and questions are formed.
If your students cannot create the -ing form properly, refer to the following post on the present continuous tense, which shows how the -ing verbs are formed.
Once you get to the usage of the past continuous tense, play the video. Play it twice and the second time stop the video and highlight the differences in the scenes and the tenses.
Past continuous – online quiz
You can use the following online test in class or you can ask your students to do it at home. The online quiz consists of two parts. In the first part, the students are asked to put the verb into the past continuous tense. In the second part they have to choose either the past simple tense or the past continuous tense.
If you want to play the online quiz in full screen click the button below.
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/grammar/past_continuous/Past continuous tense (Web)/index.html” target=”blank” background=”#f08cf5″ size=”6″]Past continuous – online quiz[/su_button]
Or you can use the flash version here:
[su_button url=”https://engames.eu/grammar/past_continuous/flash_soubory/past_continuous_quiz.html” target=”blank” background=”#f08cf5″ size=”6″]Past continuous – online quiz[/su_button]
Past continuous – share
More often than not I teach in classrooms with no internet connection, so I realize that it is important to be able to use the activities offline too. You can download the online quiz, the game, and the picture and use them offline:
Past continuous tense – links
You can find one more post on past continuous tense here.
There is also a good discussion of the past continuous tense at the British Council site.
And the last link is to the BBC Learning English site.