Let’s face it – doesn’t matter how old your students are, for some reason past tenses make them either sick or scared. As much as there is no practical explanation for such a reaction (they are as much regular or irregular as the present ones), this mountain is easier to go around rather than to be moved. How, then?
Just make it less… grammatical. Try to sneak in these horrible irregular conjugations or those regular (but still terrible) endings. Make it relaxing, make it fun. Trust me, your students are not going to see through your trick. How about a short fairy tale (3:25 min), such as Too Much Noise in English (UK)? Everybody loves children’s stories, but have you ever wondered why? The reason is as simple as the past – because they are reminiscences of our carefree childhood, something that made us feel safe and cozy. Don’t waste this backdrop tool, tales are full of the past!
This wonderful and simple story is just cut out for lower levels. As it has same subtitles, asking students to catch as many verbs in the past form as they can seem to be a perfect idea:
Too Much Noise covers the essentials of the simple past tense:
- set out
- had to
- negating (did not)
- came back
Play the video twice if necessary. Draw a chart on the board with one column for regular verbs, and the other for the irregular ones. Elicit the verbs from the students, asking them to decide to which column they belong. And keep asking! What’s the rule? How do you build negative sentences?
I know, the IRREGULAR ONES… so what’s the trick to making your students enjoy learning them by heart? Well, as I said, all fairy tales are full of the past tense. Give them a choice – memorizing a list of the verbs, or watching other BookBox stories and noting down the scary conjugations.
Don’t forget that the BookBox stories appear in a plethora of languages in same-subtitles, no subtitles, or English-subtitles version. What is more, the words are highlighted when uttered by the speaker, so don’t miss out on that great opportunity to practice pronunciation at the same time.
Good luck and let us know how your classroom enjoyed Too Much Noise! We’d love to hear your stories. Comment below!
Marta has turned her passion for languages and traveling into a daily routine as a is a foreign language teacher, educational content writer, translator, and backpacker. Her mission is to encourage people to enrich their lives through learning new languages and traveling, always inventing new techniques for faster learning and sharing them through her website 5 Language Club (still under construction), Vegan Beauty Travels and Facebook.