Posts Tagged ‘narrative tenses’

So I’ve just decided to start a series of articles on $4MT dedicated to the classics.  No, not Homer or Aristotle or none of them cats–I’m referring to classic English teaching activities that every teacher has probably used (or could probably use) and which in my own experience I’ve made use of time and time again.

The first one is in this series is that oldie but goodie: “I saw you…”

I first came across this activity in the classic 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova (MacMillan English).   Its purpose is mainly to practice using narrative tenses. (more…)


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Wow!  Look!  There’s a new post on $4MT that doesn’t make reference to any sort of controversial subject matter whatsoever!  My lord!

No, nothing too revolutionary, but this was just something that occurred to me out of the blue in the middle of a First Certificate class I do.

I had on hand my bag of phrasal verb cards which I use to play phrasal verb reversi, and I realized that, out of luck, a few of the sentences I’d pulled from the bag could conceivably be part of the same story.

” It turned out that Bill and Mary had met before…”

“…She offered to drop him off at the station…”

“…He was so tired that he dropped off for half an hour on the train.”

So, on a lark, I gave the students the sentences, spaced out so as to imply “gaps” in the story.  Then I told them to complete the story, working together to fill in the gaps in the narrative.

In addition to providing a context to review and reinforce the meanings and forms of the phrasal verbs in question, it’s also decent practice of narrative tenses, etc.

All told, a quite easy collaborative speaking exercise that allows for review of phrasal verbs and can be extended with a writing exercise for homework.

Other possibilities for the phrasal verb story outlines:

“I came across an interesting article on the internet the other day…”

“…The police are looking into the matter…”

“…The president has promised to bring about a change…” (good ones for “newsy”, “current-events” type lessons)


“Some people find it difficult to face up to their fears in life…”

“…He came up with a solution to the problem…”

“…They carried on with the meeting as usual.”


“I bumped into Jill the other day at random in the street.”

“…I didn’t want to bring up such a sensitive subject…”

“…but he didn’t let the bad news get him down.

If you get the notion, you can suggest some other possibilities in the ol’ Comments section.  (It helps to have maybe a proper name (ie “Tina”, “James”) and then some loose pronouns in the others.)

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