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Speaking About the Past

Lesson Plan: Speaking About the Past (A2 ESL)


Objective: To teach A2 level ESL students how to speak about events and activities in the past using appropriate vocabulary, tenses, and sentence structures.

Duration: 60 minutes


Warm-up (10 minutes)

Begin the lesson with a quick discussion about memorable events from the students' past. Prompt them with questions like:

  • What did you do last weekend?

  • Have you ever traveled to a different country? When was it?

  • Did you celebrate any special occasions recently? What did you do?

Introduction to Past Tenses (10 minutes)


Here's a short explanation of each past tense with examples:

  1. Simple Past Tense: Explanation: The Simple Past Tense is used to talk about actions that happened and were completed in the past. Example: She visited her grandparents last weekend. Example: We watched a movie yesterday.

  2. Past Continuous Tense: Explanation: The Past Continuous Tense is used to describe actions that were ongoing or in progress at a specific time in the past. Example: While I was watching TV, my friend called me. Example: They were playing soccer when it started raining.

  3. Past Perfect Tense: Explanation: The Past Perfect Tense is used to indicate an action that happened before another action in the past. Example: By the time I arrived, they had already eaten all the pizza. Example: She realized she had lost her keys after she had left the house.

  4. Past Perfect Continuous Tense: Explanation: The Past Perfect Continuous Tense emphasizes the duration of an action that happened before another action in the past. Example: She was tired because she had been working all day. Example: He was out of breath because he had been running for an hour.

  5. Simple Past Passive: Explanation: The Simple Past Passive is used to focus on the action done to the subject rather than the doer of the action. Example: The book was written by a famous author. Example: The cake was eaten at the party.


Vocabulary for Past Activities (10 minutes)


Here's a list of key vocabulary words related to past activities, along with their meanings and pronunciation:


1. Visited

  • Meaning: Went to a place, usually for a short period, to see someone or something.

  • Example: "Last summer, I visited Paris with my family."

2. Watched

  • Meaning: Looked at something, like a movie, TV show, or event, with your eyes.

  • Example: "Yesterday, I watched a new movie at the cinema."


3. Played

  • Meaning: Took part in a game, sport, or activity for enjoyment.

  • Example: "They played soccer in the park on Saturday."


4. Cooked

  • Meaning: Prepared food by heating and combining ingredients.

  • Example: "She cooked a delicious meal for her friends."


5. Read

  • Meaning: Looked at written words and understood their meaning.

  • Example: "He read an interesting book last week."


6. Listened

  • Meaning: Gave attention to and heard sounds or music.

  • Example: "I listened to my favorite songs while cleaning."

7. Went

  • Meaning: Moved to or entered a different place.

  • Example: "They went to the beach on their day off."

8. Danced

  • Meaning: Moved rhythmically to music, often by stepping and swaying.

  • Example: "At the party, we all danced and had a great time."

9. Traveled

  • Meaning: Went on a journey, typically to a distant or foreign place.

  • Example: "She traveled to Japan for her summer vacation."

10. Climbed

  • Meaning: Moved upwards, often using hands and feet, such as ascending a mountain.

  • Example: "They climbed the hill to get a better view."

11. Played

  • Meaning: Engaged in recreational activities or games.

  • Example: "The children played hide-and-seek in the garden."

12. Hiked

  • Meaning: Went for a long walk, usually in nature, often involving trails and hills.

  • Example: "We hiked through the forest and saw beautiful scenery."

13. Kept

  • Meaning: Continued to have or retain something.

  • Example: "She kept a diary throughout her travels."

14. Passed

  • Meaning: Went by or moved past a particular point in time or space.

  • Example: "The years passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was in college."

15. Dreamed

  • Meaning: Imagined events or experiences during sleep; also refers to having aspirations or goals.

  • Example: "Last night, I dreamed about flying in the sky."

16. Had

  • Meaning: Possessed or experienced something in the past.

  • Example: "She had a great time at the concert last weekend."

17. Did

  • Meaning: Performed or carried out an action.

  • Example: "They did their homework before going out to play."

18. Went

  • Meaning: Moved to or entered a different place.

  • Example: "Last year, we went on a road trip across the country."

19. Swam

  • Meaning: Moved through water by using the arms and legs for propulsion.

  • Example: "We swam in the lake on a hot summer day."

Irregular Verbs:


Bought:

  • Meaning: Obtained something by paying for it.

  • Example: "She bought a new dress for the party last night."

Flew:

  • Meaning: Moved through the air using wings or an aircraft.

  • Example: "They flew to London for a business meeting."

Sang:

  • Meaning: Produced musical sounds using the voice.

  • Example: "We sang our favorite songs at the karaoke night."

Drove:

  • Meaning: Operated a vehicle to move from one place to another.

  • Example: "He drove his friends to the beach last weekend."

Ate:

  • Meaning: Consumed food.

  • Example: "I ate a delicious meal at the new restaurant."

Ran:

  • Meaning: Moved swiftly on foot.

  • Example: "She ran a marathon and finished first."

Became:

  • Meaning: Underwent a change in state, condition, or identity.

  • Example: "He became a successful businessman after years of hard work."

Drew:

  • Meaning: Created a picture or design by making lines and marks on paper.

  • Example: "She drew a beautiful landscape during her art class."

Came:

  • Meaning: Moved closer to a specified person or place.

  • Example: "They came to the party with their friends."

Went:

  • Meaning: Moved to or entered a different place.

  • Example: "Last year, we went on a road trip across the country."


Grammar Explanation:


In English, there are several verb tenses that can be used to talk about past actions and events. Here are the primary past tense verb forms:

  1. Simple Past Tense: This tense is used to describe completed actions in the past. It's often formed by adding "-ed" to regular verbs. Irregular verbs have their own unique forms. Example (Regular Verb): She visited her grandparents last weekend. Example (Irregular Verb): They ate dinner at the restaurant yesterday.

  2. Past Continuous Tense: This tense is used to describe actions that were ongoing or in progress at a specific time in the past. It's formed with the past tense of "to be" (was/were) and the present participle (-ing form) of the main verb. Example: While I was watching TV, my friend called me.

  3. Past Perfect Tense: This tense is used to indicate an action that happened before another action in the past. It's formed using "had" + the past participle of the main verb. Example: By the time I arrived, they had already eaten all the pizza.

  4. Past Perfect Continuous Tense: This tense emphasizes the duration of an action that happened before another action in the past. It's formed with "had been" + the present participle (-ing form) of the main verb. Example: She was tired because she had been working all day.

  5. Simple Past Passive: The passive voice in the past tense is used when the focus is on the action done to the subject rather than the doer of the action. It's formed using "was/were" + past participle. Example: The book was written by a famous author.

These are the main verb tenses used to express actions and events in the past. It's important to help ESL learners practice using these tenses in context to effectively communicate about past activities.



Exercise 1: Simple Past vs. Past Continuous (15 minutes)

Provide sentences, and students need to identify whether Simple Past or Past Continuous should be used. Example sentences:

  1. While I was watching TV, my friend called me.

  2. Last night, I cooked dinner for my family.

  3. They were playing soccer when it started raining.

  4. She read a great book last month.

Exercise 2: Describe Your Last Vacation (15 minutes)

Divide students into pairs. One student will describe their last vacation using both Simple Past and Past Continuous, while the other listens and asks follow-up questions. After a few minutes, switch roles. Encourage using vocabulary from the earlier activity.


Exercise 1: Complete the Sentences

Complete each sentence with the correct form of the past tense of the verb in parentheses.

  1. She __________ (visit) her grandparents last weekend.

  2. We __________ (watch) a movie yesterday evening.

  3. They __________ (play) soccer in the park this morning.

  4. He __________ (cook) dinner for his family last night.

  5. I __________ (read) an interesting book last month.

Exercise 3: True or False

Read the sentences and decide if they are true or false based on the past tense information.

  1. Yesterday, she played the piano. ( )

  2. They watched a movie tomorrow. ( )

  3. We visited the museum last week. ( )

  4. He cooks breakfast every morning. ( )

  5. They read a magazine yesterday. ( )

Exercise 4: Fill in the Blanks

Fill in the blanks with the correct past tense form of the verbs given in brackets.

  1. She __________ (dance) at the party last night.

  2. They __________ (travel) to London two months ago.

  3. He __________ (climb) the mountain last summer.

  4. We __________ (hike) in the mountains last weekend.

  5. I __________ (play) basketball with my friends yesterday.

Exercise 5: Conversation Practice

Work with a partner. Imagine you both had a weekend full of activities. Take turns asking and answering questions using the past tense.

Partner A: What did you do yesterday? Partner B: I watched a movie and went for a walk.

Switch roles and continue the conversation.


Exercise 5: Picture Description

Show a picture to the students. They should describe what they see in the picture using the past tense.

For example, if the picture shows people at a beach: Student: "I saw people playing in the sand. Some kids built sandcastles, and others swam in the sea."




Practice Scripts


Script 1: Talking About Hobbies


Person A: Hey, Sarah! How's it going? I heard you're really into painting now.

Person B: Hi! Yeah, that's right. I started painting about a year ago. It all began when I took a painting class at the community center.

Person A: That's cool! What kind of things do you usually paint?

Person B: Well, in the beginning, I mostly painted landscapes and flowers. But recently, I've been trying my hand at abstract art. It's challenging, but I love it.

Person A: I remember you used to play the guitar. Do you still play?

Person B: Oh, definitely! I've been playing the guitar since I was a teenager. I can't imagine my life without it. Music has always been my passion.


Script 2: Catching Up on Travel Experiences


Person A: Hi, Mark! It's been ages since we caught up. What have you been up to?

Person B: Hey! You won't believe it, but I just got back from a three-week trip to Europe.

Person A: No way! That sounds amazing. Where did you go?

Person B: Well, I started in Paris, spent a few days there. Then I traveled to Rome, Venice, and Barcelona. It was a whirlwind adventure.

Person A: How long had you been planning this trip?

Person B: Actually, I had been planning it for about six months. I wanted to make sure I could see as much as possible.

Person A: Did you go alone or with someone?

Person B: I went with my sister. We'd been talking about taking a trip together for years, so it was a dream come true.


Script 3: Reminiscing About School Days


Person A: Remember our high school days, Alex?

Person B: Of course! Those were some unforgettable times.

Person A: You were always great at sports. How long did you play basketball?

Person B: I played basketball for five years, from freshman to senior year. I joined the team when I was in eighth grade and fell in love with the game.

Person A: And I remember you were part of the drama club too, right?

Person B: Yeah, I was. I acted in school plays for about three years. It was so much fun memorizing lines and performing on stage.

Person A: We had some good times. Do you still keep in touch with anyone from back then?

Person B: Definitely. I'm still close friends with a few people from our class. We meet up whenever we can and reminisce about those school days.


These scripts provide examples of conversations where people describe their past events, hobbies, and experiences. They also include discussions about how long someone has been doing something. Use these scripts as models to encourage your ESL students to practice speaking about their own past activities and experiences.


Group Discussion: Memorable Events (10 minutes)

In small groups, have students discuss and share their most memorable life events using appropriate past tenses. Encourage them to ask each other questions for more details.


Homework (5 minutes)

Assign a writing task for homework. Students should write a short paragraph about a recent event using both Simple Past and Past Continuous.


Conclusion (5 minutes)

Recap the key points of the lesson, emphasizing the usage of Simple Past and Past Continuous tenses. Encourage students to practice speaking about past events in their daily lives.


By incorporating various exercises and interactive discussions, this lesson plan aims to help A2 level ESL students become more comfortable and confident when speaking about events and activities in the past.




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