There are various ways of presenting English grammar. If students aren’t responding to the techniques used, teachers perhaps need to think, let’s simplify it. What would help them?
There are 12 major verb tenses in the English language (always under discussion). They can be confusing to learn and their names difficult to remember: Present Simple, Present Progressive / Continuous, Present Perfect…
I remember one of my first practice teaching sessions was preparing a review of all the tenses and aspects. As a new teacher, all I could remember with the added stress of facing Advanced Level adults was, all the tenses began with P except for Future which I felt I wouldn’t reach if I didn’t succeed in that lesson.
Use Colour Coding
One method I adopted when I was teaching English to EFL ESL pupils with learning disabilities and disorders was to colour code the tenses they had to learn.
As mentioned above, the names of these tenses are very similar and these children had great difficulty remembering the names but could remember their colours. In fact, they would often say, is that the light blue one?
Every activity or worksheet I prepared would be colour-coded and tenses highlighted. This was very useful when differentiating, comparing and contrasting the use of one tense with another.
As the students progressed, they were given tasks to find tenses and highlight them in their assigned colour and name them.
Not only did the colours provide great associations, they brightened up often potentially dull grammar exercises.
If you do decide to use colours to organise your grammar system, plan out what colours are going to represent which tense before you embark on this method so you don’t start repeating colours.
In addition to helping the students, it helps you as a teacher since it’s easier to file and find worksheets later because of the colours you have assigned to each tense.
If you don’t have time to create your own chart and want the one above – you can find it here and adapt it if you wish.
Other Free Resources
If you are interested in finding out more about how to quickly and easily recognise and help struggling students and check if your lessons are ‘memory friendly’, join other teachers and professionals and check out and download the latest supporting FREE how-to guides and toolkits and other resources.
Copyright Lesley Lanir. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
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