Make it Personal with the Present Simple!

 

It’s that dreaded word again.“GRAMMAR”. Even thinking the word can give students a chill! It seems like some difficult, abstract thing that sits outside of the fun English they want to learn. In their heads English is fun because it allows them to communicate, but grammar is hard.  It must be studied over and over. Grammar is like the vegetables their mothers made them eat when they were young. It is necessary, but unpleasant.

To start with, avoid using the word “grammar”. This is to prevent them developing a complex about it, but also to remind them that grammar is at the heart of all of the English they already know. They use grammar in every sentence they speak and in every sentence they write. So it must be approached softly. We as teachers must “hide the vegetables”. Enable students to produce grammar without them realizing it.

 

I enjoy asking students what they like to do in their free time, since many students in Asia have busy schedules. Perhaps they answer “I read books”, “I play computer games”, “I cook delicious food”. Without being aware of my goal, they have independently produced one of the most important tenses in English. In fact, the subject of this blog. The PRESENT SIMPLE.

 

The Present Simple (also known as the Simple Present) is the tense we use to show habits or repeated actions. For example:

 

I play tennis

I speak English

I study Geography

 

These are all actions that are repeated. A great way to teach the present simple is to ask about a student’s daily routine. Everyone does some of the same things in one day. For example:

I DRINK WATER

I READ A BOOK

I EAT FOOD

I BRUSH MY TEETH

This can be done with adults and children, since everybody at least drinks, eats, walks and sleeps during one day, so there is material for everyone.

Once students understand the basic idea, demonstrate how it can be used in the negative by asking them questions. For example:

Do you speak French?

Often the student will answer with a short sentence; “No, I don’t”. Make sure to elicit a full sentence from them in response to your question: “I do not speak French”.

Asking questions is the staple of any English Teacher, because it encourages students to produce language independently. But it also allows the Teacher to understand the student better, because they will communicate their interests, hobbies and desires. The Present Simple is great for this because it is about regular patterns in their lives; you will quickly learn more about them and will be able to make your lesson more personal and meaningful.

 

Lastly, demonstrate how to use the Present Simple in question form. You have already done this, but this time encourage your students to form questions themselves. Often this is challenging for students since they are more accustomed to being asked than doing the asking. Empower your students by allowing them to ask you questions and promise to answer them truthfully! Sharing a little about your own story is useful to building rapport with students over a webcam and is especially relevant here.  Maybe your students will ask you “Do you speak Chinese”, “Do you read books”, “Do you brush your teeth”?!

Most students will thrive on this kind of freedom and will commit to the class even more.

There are other uses of the present simple, but these should only be taught to high-level students, and after you are sure they are comfortable with the uses we discussed today.

 

Thanks for reading and happy teaching!

——Rory M

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Mercy Rivera
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Mercy Rivera

Perfect! In just 3 simple steps we can make learning simple present a personal and meaningful thing. Thank you Patrick. I will definitely make use of.these 3 simple steps.

Diana Dimayuga
Consultant
Diana Dimayuga

I love love it! Thank you so much! This is wonderful ❤️😃👏🏽

Sara Fernandes
Consultant
Sara Fernandes

Well done! Good examples 😺

Sharmaine Calimlim
Consultant
Sharmaine Calimlim

Thank you Teacher Rory! This helps a lot. Usually we teach tenses of verbs with high level students and they really enjoy learning about verbs.

IreneFrancisca
Consultant
IreneFrancisca

Wow, nice tip! Thanks for many great examples!

Jennifer Gill
Consultant
Jennifer Gill

Very helpful and informative. Love the steps!! Thank you 🙂

Ina du Plessis
Consultant
Ina du Plessis

Yes! I don’t like using the word ‘grammar’! It’s as if the students immediately “shuts off” when they hear this dreaded word!

Lilibeth Plavsic
Consultant
Lilibeth Plavsic

These are amazing ideas!

Teacher Nini
Consultant
Teacher Nini

I like your enthusiasm, thanks for sharing!

By the way, would it be possible to change the font in the upcoming articles? Maybe a bold font instead of the light version, my eyes were burning in the end!

Noeleen Clarke
Consultant
Noeleen Clarke

Great, simple idea that engages students from the get-go! Thanks!

Elvis Tejada
Consultant
Elvis Tejada

Right o n the money. Perfect way to make grammar lessons light and eay

Ilegra Michaels
Consultant
Ilegra Michaels

Thank you teacher Rory. Simple and easy to understand examples. I look forward to more grammar tips.

Fabiana Menezes
Consultant
Fabiana Menezes

Interesting approach. Simple steps to teach effectively.

Paul
Consultant
Paul

Nice reminders, thank you.

Lorette
Consultant
Lorette

I agree, it is important to include grammar points in the lesson and ” the simple present” is the perfect place to start.

Ron A
Consultant
Ron A

Thanks Rory, I always ask my students the question “What did you do today” or “What did you do after school”. Sometimes they ask the same question. Great tips to tech present simple. Ron

Mike George
Consultant
Mike George

Good points. How about getting the word “grammar” taken off the slides then. That’s the only time I say the word because it’s on the screen!

Caitriona
Consultant
Caitriona

I love how fun and accessible this is. Present simple can be so confusing to explain, these ideas make it easy and pain-free! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas on this topic Rory. I’ll make sure to try this with my students in the future!
Looking forward to your next blog!
C

Kristina
Consultant
Kristina

Very useful, thank you for sharing the ideas!

Lana Murphy
Consultant
Lana Murphy

I love this. Grammar is truly dreaded by younger students. Some of them haven’t started really learning what grammar is yet (when they are really young, like 6 years old). So getting them to answer questions using full sentences is great. However I really like the idea of getting them to ask questions. I’m not always sure how to do that with lower levels, but your advice is perfect, so I’ll be thinking of some creative ways to do that. Learning and fun should go hand in hand. Thanks for the article.

Felecia
Consultant
Felecia

Thanks for sharing Rory! I always use games, such as charades or visual aids to help “Hide the Vegetables”.

Greta Trevino
Consultant
Greta Trevino

These tips are simple, yet very helpful. I will keep them in mind in my future lessons!

Amanda E
Consultant
Amanda E

Nice idea to have the students ask you a question in the simple present tense and you respond. Not only does it help them practice forming questions and the simple present tense, but it helps a low-level student how to begin speaking and having conversations, which would be very practical to them. I’m sure this will build their confidence and help them feel like they are learning “real” English.