Published 29th October 2015


There are many different ways of teaching different grammatical structures, but usually there are certain methods or activities which lend themselves to teaching a particular structure.

The Present Perfect is one of those structures which you will find yourself teaching again and again, as students seem to struggle with it and need a lot of practice before it becomes more natural.  So let’s look at a few things you can do to make teaching and learning the present perfect more fun and more effective.

  • I Have Never. A popular drinking game in some parts of the world, this is a great game to practise the present perfect. (Obviously, though, the rules are slightly different as there is no drinking involved!). One student starts and makes a sentence which is true for them: “I have never ridden a motorbike”. If anyone has ridden a motorbike then they need to stand up. The next student makes another sentence – “I have never seen an elephant” – and if it’s true for them then they stay seated (or sit down) but if they have seen an elephant they stand up. This is a great game for the students to practise the structure and get to know each other at the same time.
  •  Around the World. Draw a world map on the board and mark out places where you have been and places you would like to go to, in two different colours. Let the students ask you questions about your destinations. They usually come up with questions such as “When did you go to Thailand?”, “Why do you want to go to India?”, though they may need some help on the correct question forms, depending on the level. When that is finished, give the students a handout of a world map or let them draw their own and they then do the same for themselves. In pairs or groups they compare maps and talk about where they’ve been and where they would like to go. This is a great way to consolidate one of the differences between the present perfect and the past simple.
  • The Superlative Game. As the name suggests, this involves students comparing something in order to decide whose situation is the most superlative. For example, “The most expensive thing I’ve ever bought is my handbag for £150”. “The hottest place I’ve ever been to is Saudi Arabia.” The students can come up with the situations themselves or you can provide them with prompts. This is a fun for students to compete with each other and try to “beat” their partners. It can first be done in partners and then as a group activity to find out the winners of the whole class. While the present perfect may be tricky to get right, there are many games and activities which can be used to help your students practice it.