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Almost a month ago, I tested the CAE group on the usage of tenses in graphic form. You can read about it here. It worked very well and the students’ response was positive – they believed that it was useful . So, today, I decided to try it on the FCE group. However, I made some modifications, which I believed made the concepts clearer. The sentences were replaced and I added a few fixed points in time, e.g. 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, on the line. I took the photos before the sentences were displayed, so they only appear on the answer slide.

Again, before we started, I explained what the graphics meant: the dots referred to points in time, the double-headed arrows between two lines represented something in progress during this period, and the arc linking two points meant that they were somehow connected.

Tenses in graphic form by Chiew Pang

Tenses in graphics. Copyright 2013 Chiew Pang

Tenses in graphic form by Chiew Pang

Tenses in graphics. Copyright 2013 Chiew Pang

As to be expected, they had a little more difficulty than the CAE group, but once they got the hang of it, it was plain sailing. I asked them if they found it useful, and their reply was positive.

On a few occasions, I asked them questions to check they understood the concepts:

  • If you rang me at 9am, what time did I start having breakfast? Any time before 9am.
  • Which action happens earlier? My finishing the homework or your coming home? Finishing the homework.
  • If it started to rain at 5am, at what time did I fall asleep? Midnight.
  • If I started to watch the film at 6pm, what time did my mum come home? 8pm.

 After this, we did some controlled practice off the coursebook.

For free practice, I did a circular narrative writing activity while monitoring and correcting on the spot. In a few instances, I stopped the class to go through language issues I considered important enough for everyone.

Recommended reading

Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan

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