Which Present Is It? 10 Simple Activities for Practicing the Simple Present and the Present Continuous

Which Present Is It? 10 Simple Activities for Practicing the Simple Present and the Present Continuous

If you are teaching beginning level students, try these ten activities that require the use of the simple present and the present continuous.

Try These 6 Simple Activities About Families

  1. 1

    Charade It

    Charades is a great way to elicit the present continuous tense your students. Simply have one person act out an activity they do on a regular basis, (such as brushing their teeth, studying, or starting a car) and have the rest of the class make present continuous statements that guess at that action. After someone has guessed the action correctly, have students volunteer sentences using the simple present which they think are true of the person giving the charade. For example, you brush your teeth twice a day; or you use crest toothpaste.

  2. 2

    Twenty Questions

    Twenty questions is one of my favorite activities for practicing question formation. And it is a great way to elicit simple present and present continuous questions from your students. Have one person choose a verb or activity for the class to guess. Then have the other members of the class ask yes/no questions about the activity using the simple present or the present continuous. They have twenty questions they can ask before they must guess what the verb is. For example, student might ask the following questions: Do you do this every day? Are you doing right now?

  3. 3

    Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

    When people take vacations, they enjoy sharing their experiences with people they care about. Have your students pretend they are on a dream vacation and write a postcard or letter to someone they care about. In the post card they can describe what they are doing right now using the present continuous and talk about their everyday routines using the simple present. If you like, review with your class how to address postcards.

  4. 4

    Vacation Prompts

    If you like, continue with the vacation theme (don’t we all like to imagine getting away from it all?) and give your students some prompts to complete sentences about their dream vacations. These prompts should elicit the simpler present and the present continuous. Your list of prompts might include the following: every morning…, all around me…right now…today…every day…etc. Have your students complete these sentences in writing or work with a partner to complete the sentences orally.

  5. 5

    Taboo Questions

    This activity will really get your students talking, and thinking, too. Start by making a list of questions about taboo subjects – how old are you, how much do you weigh, how often do you shave your armpits, what color underwear are you wearing, etc. If you like, have your students work together to make the list. You should also include some normal, non-taboo questions in your list. All of the questions should be written in the simple present and the present continuous. Then, the class rank these questions in order from those they would most like to be asked to those they would least like to be asked, and divide the ranked list into five different groups. Group one, the questions they would most like to be asked, are worth one point. Group five, the ones they least want to be asked, are worth five points. The other questions earn points where they are in between. To play the game, students will race to earn fifteen points. Each student takes turns choosing the rank of question they want to answer. A classmate chooses a question at that level, and the player answers it. They then earn that many points for their answer. The first person to fifteen points wins. Students will have to decide if they want to answer uncomfortable questions and earn more points, or if they want to play it safe and keep a lower score.

  6. 6

    Coin Toss Questions

    This activity is simple. Prepare by making a list of questions using the simple present and present continuous. Each person works with a partner for the activity. On a student’s turn, she chooses a question, which she will either answer or ask her partner. Then she flips a coin – heads she answers it, tails her partner answers it. Have students play for a certain amount of time or until they run out of questions.

  7. 7

    A Picture Is Worth…

    Pictures are a great way to elicit the present continuous. Have students work with a partner to talk about a picture. (You can find some interesting and unusual pictures at here. )Students should describe what they see using both the simple present and the present continuous.

  8. 8

    Mr. Know It All

    What do your students know about their home countries? Probably a lot. So give them a chance to share what they know with their classmates in this fun activity. One student will pretend to be a tour guide for a place in their home country (or another place of their choosing). They should describe the area and its attractions to the rest of the class, and their classmates should feel free to ask questions about the location. The discussion should happen in the simple present and the present continuous.

  9. 9

    All about Us

    How aware are your students as to what is going on around them? Give your class a chance to quiz each other on how well they know their classmates habits with this fun quiz. One person closes their eyes. Their partner then asks them questions about their classmates - everyday habits as well as what is going on right now. For example, someone might ask the following questions: What color are Kim’s shoes? What does Miguel eat for lunch every day? Who is Sergio sitting next to right now? After a certain amount of time, have students change roles. Who knew their classmates best?

  10. q

    Baby Pictures

    If you can get a hold of a baby picture for each person in your class, try this fun and memorable activity. Show each person’s baby picture in a PowerPoint slide show. Have your students guess who is in the picture and give their reasons why using statements in the simple present and present continuous. You might also have students describe the picture as well.

There are lots of ways to practicing these tenses with ESL students.

What are your favorite activities for using the two?

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