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Tenses revision: this is how we do it

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

Me again 😅 If you follow my blog you know that I write in bursts: nothing for weeks or months and then a couple of posts a week. So here I am with a second post in one week 😁

To prepare my 8th graders for their end of school exam, we started revising tenses. I kind of started creating a system of tense learning/revision for them, to do on their own or one-to-one with me, which I'd like to share with you today.

Step 1: an overview

We started out with an overview of all the tenses and tense-like construction which they need to remember for their exam. I do it like this:

The rug was especially made for this activity. It's divided into three parts which represent past, present and future. We add names of the tenses, information on when to use them, basic structure information, pictures and time expressions. At this point, I don't expect anyone to remember all the rules. It's an overview to show them what's coming in the following weeks.

Step 2: tense comparison

We've already learnt all the tenses so we start our revision sessions from comparing two tenses. To do that I sit down with each of my students individually (thank you 3-hour-long free work cycle!!) and work with my Task Cards. I first created them a while ago when I wanted to revise Present Simple and Present Continuous with my kids in grade 5. Three years later, we're using them again. The PS and PC cards are available in the download section of this website. They are created especially for students with Polish as their L1, but feel free to use the idea to create them for your students' L1.

I show each card to each student and wait for them to create a sentence for me. It's like a test but it's not a test. They don't get graded. It's my way to see if each of them know how to create sentences. If they do well on this non-test test, that's it. They're done and they more on to the next pair of tenses. If they don't do so well they have to study and revise. On to step 3!

Step 3: study and revise

I created this very simple tense structure aid to work with students individually. We sit down on the floor (we need a lot space for it) and "create" the rules:

Once we have the tenses cards on the floor, we start working with the task cards again. I never ask them to do it, but they tend to move the cards around. If they decide it's going to be a Past Simple sentence they put the card on the Past Simple rug. They usually start off making many mistakes and by the end of this activity they know everything there is to know 😏 As a final step, I ask the to work with the cards on their own in a couple of days to see if they still remember all the rules and differences.

If you'd like to use this material with your students it's available completely free in the Downloads section of this website. At this point you'll find Present Simple and Present Continuous, Past Simple and Past Continuous, and Present Perfect. Two versions are available: with Polish descriptions and with English descriptions.

If, however, anyone is still struggling with the sentence structure I ask them to work with Scrambled Sentences and the add-on activity for it.

Step 4: the games

When they feel (or when I feel 😅) that they're ready, they move on to the board games. At this moment, Tense Race and A Blast From The Past are used most often in my classroom.


Now, so that we're clear: those are revision and drilling activities, which more often than not, my kids do without my help. They will not substitute all the speaking activities we do in other lessons. Those activities are created specifically to teach explicit grammar and to prepare them for their exam 😊

So to sum up, here's what I have and use at this moment:

Present Tenses:

Scrambled Sentences Present Simple and Present Continuous: available in the Shop

Scrambled Sentences comparison of PS&PC: available in the Downloads

Task Cads - PS&PC comparison : available in the Downloads

Tenses material: available in the Downloads

Tense Race game: available in the Shop

Past Tenses and structures:

Scrambled Sentences Past Simple, Present Perfect: available in the Shop

Task Cards - PtS&PtC comparison: available in the Shop

Task Cards - did/was/were: available in the Downloads

Task Cards - PtS&PP comparison: available in the Downloads

A Blast From The Past game: available in the Shop

Add-on card for Tense Race: available in the Shop

Tenses material: available in the Downloads

Future Tenses:

Task Cards - FS, be going to, PC comparison: available in the Shop

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