Beginners’ English: I was reading your blog – Past continuous

2nd July 2020

Past Continuous

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Talking, laughing, dancing and drinking

Subject + was / were + verb ing

I was reading a book

You were taking a rest

At the party, we were singing, playing music, eating, drinking, talking and laughing.

USES:

Something was happening in the past

When I came to class, teacher was playing music.

[The teacher was ALREADY playing]

How to Teach Children to Play Guitar

Compare with Past Simple:

When I got to class, teacher played music

[Teacher started playing AFTER I arrived]

Something was happening in the past:

Last night, I was reading the news.

Something that happens all the time OR a long time ago:

They are always shouting at each other [happens all the time].

A Wife Caught Her Husband Boarding a Plane with His Mistress

When he was young, he was always playing piano [a long time ago].

The Piano Boy: This 10-year-old's playing skills will shock you ...

Practice:

When I phoned my friends, they (play)———-Monopoly.

When I phoned my friends, they were playing Monopoly.

  1. Yesterday at six I (prepare)————–dinner.
  2. The kids (play)——in the garden when it suddenly began to rain.
  3. I (practice)———–the guitar when he came home.
  4. We (not / cycle)———all day.
  5. While Alan (work)——–in his room, his friends (swim) ——-in the pool.
  6. I tried to tell them the truth but they (not / listen )————-.
  7. What (you / do)———–yesterday?
  8. Most of the time we (sit)——–in the park.
  9. I (listen)———to the radio while my sister (watch)————-TV.
  10. When I arrived, they (play)————–cards.
  11. We (study)———English yesterday at 4:00 pm .

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Grammar, past and present continuous and quiz

27th June 2020

art pepper Archives - Jerry Jazz Musician

The Jazz musician Art Pepper was in his room, playing saxophone.

Grammar

Mixing continuous with the past tense

This can be confusing – mixing two different tenses, but it is very common in English. Look at these examples:

Yesterday, I was reading a great book.

She was reading a magnificent story

Reading Girl | Free Stock Photo | A beautiful African American ...

This is past continuous:

I was doing something (was + verb ing).

But it can be more complicated:

Last week, we were in the garden, drinking tea and laughing.

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Normally, this is used to say that SOMETHING HAPPENED to disturb an action in the past.

Example:

She was playing video games when the phone rang.

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She had to stop playing her game BECAUSE her phone rang.

She was studying in the library when she suddenly remembered she had to help her mother with the shopping.

They have trouble asking for help': Japanese schools on suicide ...

Try these:

ELEPHANT ATTACK: Chasing the truth with Andrew Ucles - Ucles vs ...

He was walking in the jungle when …

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She was sending a text when …

Now … Your Turn

What happened today at work or school ?

I was teaching a class when a student arrived 15 minutes late.

Grammar Quiz

1 I watch a movie FUTURE TENSE = I will watch a movie (tonight, later etc)

2 I fly a kite PRESENT CONTINUOUS

3 They is rides a bicycle. CORRECT THE GRAMMAR

4 Leo eats a pasta CORRECT THE GRAMMAR

5 I look at photographs PAST TENSE

6 Hank are surfing the internet CORRECT THE GRAMMAR

7 We is chatting with a friend CORRECT THE GRAMMAR

8 I was text my friend when my bag is stolen

9 I like take photographs CORRECT THE GRAMMAR

10 She has a picnic FUTURE TENSE

11 Tomorrow I ….. read a magazine FUTURE TENSE

12 Say ‘I have a blue cookbook in my black backpack’.

13 Jane and Susan like to dance PRESENT CONTINUOUS

14 Tomorrow I ate a cheeseburger CORRECT GRAMMAR

15 I see with my eyes, I ….. with my ears.

16 Yesterday I was watch a movie. CORRECT GRAMMAR

17 We were eat lunch when my friend to arrive.

18 You were sleep last night and didn’t heard the thunder.

Adult Class, Level 3 (mixed): You practice what I preach.

17th September for 23rd September. AEF 3 pp. 50 – 51

Last week, we covered past tense – simple, continuous and perfect. However, that is a lot to take in, especially for students who are not so confident. Looking at charts and learning the jargon can be daunting and far too theoretical.

This problem has long been identified and addressed; grammar, as theory, reduced to a minimal. Grammar, used in writing and more importantly speaking, maximised.

Therefore, my policy in this block of lessons (four per block) is to reduce book work, simplify the theory and try to allocate at least half the lesson to student-talking time.

Last night’s lesson seemed to work well; the Socratic approach which makes the students collect information and then collate it into a presentation. This was followed by students reading to each other in small groups, with some useful expressions to use … and repeat and repeat and …yeah, you get the idea.

Let’s go to work !

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But first, back to basics. Some students are not fluent in the three forms of basic verbs:

Grammar – verb practice

Here’s the 15 most common:

infinite \ present // past // past participle (verb 3)

1to bewas werebeen
2to havehadhad
3to dodiddone
4to saysaidsaid
5to gowentgone
6to getgotgot/gotten
7to makemademade
8to knowknewknown
9to thinkthoughtthought
10to taketooktaken
11to seesawseen
12to comecamecome
13to wantwantedwanted
14to useusedused
15to findfoundfound

Regular verbs, just add -‘ed’. However, as you see, in this list only one common verb, ‘want’, is regular.

NOTE: ‘to be’ is different: I am hungry You are hungry She is hungry.

Now, practice: In groups of three or four, they have to ask each other questions in order to feel more natural using the past tense. Lets’s start simply with the simple past:

What did you do today ? PAST SIMPLE

Each student takes turns describing their day. Always give ideas, as some students spent too much time thinking of what to say, whereas the purpose is to speak.

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I will also board: buy / drink / surf the internet / help parents / cook / do homework

To make it more interactive, the students can ask follow-up questions, such as, “What did you eat for lunch ?”, “What time did you start school ?”, “How did you get to work or school ?” etc. Groups can monitor each other to make sure past tense is being used properly.

NEXT: Past Continuous. Subject was doing something in the past ….

Example: Last night I was listening to T-ara:

Image result for T-ar

However, we usually use past continuous to say we were doing something WHEN something new happened.

EXAMPLE: I was listening to T-ara when someone knocked on my door.

The structure is Subject + was or were + verbing, followed by past simple

Try this: dream // alarm clock ring

He was dreaming when the alarm clock rang.

Now – practice: Make a sentence from these pairs of photos:

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Image result for telephone ring
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Finally, the past perfect. Two things happened in the past, one before the other.

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The students ‘met’ Dr Kafka last week.

Dr Franz Kafka had lived all his life in Prague until he moved to Berlin in the 1920s.

Subject + has or had + verb 3 then use past simple.

Try these:

John Lennon – in The Beatles / goes solo in 1970

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Image result for john lennon imagine

Dali – paint over 1 500 paintings / dies 1989

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Bringing it closer to home, Bac Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh) – work London / meet these young Germans.

Image result for uncle ho in Paris
Image result for uncle ho in russia

Finally, for presentation, the students can be arranged in four groups (draw playing cards so students work with new partners). I will give them ten minutes to work together and make a short presentation, with all members speaking, about the above four historical figures. Those who draw Ho Chi Minh should have an advantage, so I will be expecting more from them.

Presentations should include:

Date and place of birth.

Why there are famous

Give examples of their most famous works or activities

Where they lived

When and how they died.

ALSO – why we should remember them.

Then, I will turn to the books and hand-outs, before returning to some speaking practice before the end.

Adult Class, level 3 (class 2): expanding vocabulary.

30th August for 5th September 2019. AEF listening and grammar review.

Last week saw a lot of new vocabulary and some opportunities to practise using then in sentences. Now we need to reinforce these words, make them a part of their everyday lexicon.

From the warm up exercise, we used:

charismatic / contestants / convinced / empty-handed / entrepreneur / I’m out / in return / intimidating / represent / stain

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From ‘The Social Network’.

From watching the Vietnamese beer review, we learnt more expressions:

Let’s dive in = let’s go, let’s start !

more than likely = everyday expression meaning very possible

whatsoever – used to strengthen a sentence (“The beer has no taste whatsoever.”)

head = the white foam on top of a beer

aroma – the smell, usually for wine or coffee

Quick warm up game: use those words in a sentence. Try to use extended sentences including clauses.

For example: As it’s the rainy season, it will more than likely rain tomorrow.

Now for a relative pronoun and supporting clause:

The young blonde entrepreneur, who was convinced his idea was genius, left the meeting empty-handed.

Students can work together to come up with three sentences including one with a supporting clause.

Quick grammar review – there were some concerns about using past simple and present continuous n the same sentence:

Were you wearing the new tie when you met the manager ?

Here, everything is in the past tense (were / met) BUT we use the continuous ‘wearing’ because we were doing something at that time. Furthermore, we only use one past tense verb (here ‘were’ serves as the first past tense verb).

Try these:

Did you go (swim) this morning ?

We ate pancakes and John was (talk) all the time

I saw a film and my girlfriend went (shop)

When did you start (learn) Mandarin ?

Then we covered some personality adjectives in an activity but time was against us, and we’ll carry on at the start of this lesson. I have five friends and the students have to guess their personality and occupation. Naturally, they don’t know them, so they have to use phrases such as:

In my opinion / for me / I feel that / he appears to be / I get the impression that he … / he looks like

Mark
David
Gavin
Richard
Simon

Personality adjectives: Positive – mature / reliable / dependable / confident / life and soul (of the party) / generous

Negative – over -confident (hubris) / aloof / arrogant / mean (nasty or not generous) / awkward / bossy.

Occupations: estate agent

Image result for estate agent

consultant (here the lady, who is of Asian origin, is a recruitment consultant).

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plumber

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therapist

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bouncer

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Speaking practice. The handout is dialogue used in a coffee shop, which means I get to use one of my favourite clips, from ‘Twin Peaks’ :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxwcQ1dapw8

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Agent Cooper in ‘Twin Peaks’.

To, to set the scene, maybe we need some background ambience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOdLmxy06H0

Here’s a great chance to use words such as ‘aroma’, atmosphere’, ‘crowded’, ‘comfortable’, ‘free wifi’, and then types of coffee

And them onto today’s set lesson. If time allows, we can use some left-over activities from last week, namely the desert survivial:

Two teams, both have a number of items to help them survive in the desert after a plane crash. From the list of 18, they have to choose just 5. They must learn and practice negotiation language such as:

I see your point

I respectfully disagree

That’s an interesting choice, however …

You’re argument is not without value, having said that …

Activity – small talk. A list of general topics and the students have to try to keep the conversation going as long as possible. As with all speaking exercises, give examples or models first:

What do you do ? // I’m a student . // Really ? Where do you study ? What do you study ? How do you find you class ? What do you like best about your university ? What are the biggest challenges ?

To break up the speaking, we can use so real life listening. One popular clip is the foodie Mark Wiens eating eggs in HCM City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crPVJ3CXs1g&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=20&t=1s

Or how to stay safe in HCM – advise from locals (in English but with accents and some grammatical errors) 

Image result for petty crime in hcm
Back of the bike tours – advise for travellers in Viet Nam

And that more than likely, should be enough work in spades !