Activities for Teaching The Present Continuous

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Teaching grammatical structures can sometimes seem a bit boring or tedious, but there are many activities that can be used to make these lessons more enjoyable and fun. Students seem to enjoy doing activities which allow them to take a step away from the coursebook and, at the same time, be able to practise their language.

The present continuous is a structure which is taught at a low level, though it is very flexible in that it can be used for a variety of purposes and so is present at higher levels too. Because of this, there are a number of different games and activities that can be done to practise the present continuous.

In order to practise using the present continuous for actions that are happening right now, a very popular activity is miming. Prepare cards with verbs on beforehand and let the students act out the action, while the other students have to guess what he or she is doing, giving the answer in a full sentence. This can also work with Pictionary.

A further option is to use Spot The Difference pictures. For this you need two pictures which are mostly the same but with a number of differences. This scene should incorporate characters doing different actions. The students then need to describe their pictures to their partners i.e. what their characters are doing, in order to find out what the differences are.

Another use of the present continuous is for talking about plans for the future, in terms of meetings and appointments. For this use it makes sense to talk about diaries and schedules. Instead of using a generic template from a resource book, why not make it personal and let your students write down their actual schedules for the next week or two. If necessary, extra cards can be made with information on that you want them to add to their diaries – a dentist appointment, for example. The students then try to make arrangements with the other students in the class and so, in order to do so, will compare their diaries by using the present continuous. An alternative version would be to let the students come up with a day for a class outing or party which is convenient for everyone.

The present continuous can further be used when complaining about an action of somebody else’s that has become a habit (usually used with “always”). Students can come up with complaints about imaginary siblings, partners or housemates and then compare with other students to find out who is the “winner”. You usually find that your students are very good at complaining so this activity works very well!

Teaching grammatical structures needn’t be boring. Once the form and the meaning of the structure have been established, there are numerous activities which can be adapted to suit the needs of that particular lesson. In the case of the present continuous, all of the above activities would work well in your lessons.

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