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ESL games to teach past tense? 
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Post ESL games to teach past tense?
Can you help me think of any good games for esl students to learn the past tense?

Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:26 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
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Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Re: ESL games to teach past tense?
It depends on your class size and age range. Could you tell us more about your class?

If you are just trying to get them to learn the past tense forms, a game like Concentration works well.

If you are trying to get them to practice using the past tense in sentences or questions, I like to use Bingo or Get 4

Most games will work. You just need to change the target language to the past tense. For card games, you can use the small games cards here: past tense flashcards

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sat Sep 27, 2014 11:52 am
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Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:45 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: ESL games to teach past tense?
There's one game I've used a few times for the past tense that uses a deck of playing cards. To start the game, deal 5-7 cards to all your students. Make sure they know to keep their cards face down and not show anyone. When it's a student's turn, they will put a card into the middle of the table and say something they did in the past. The only rule here is if the card they played is black, they must tell the truth, if it's red, they must lie. After they say the sentence, the other students get to ask 3 questions. After they ask the questions, the students must decide if the person was telling the truth or lying. At this point anyone can challenge the first student and say they were lying. If everyone thinks the student is telling the truth, nothing happens and the next student takes their turn. If someone accuses the student of lying, you turn over the card in the middle of the table. If it was black, the student was telling the truth and the accuser (I take whoever said they were lying first, in case more than one student challenges them) must take all the cards in the middle of the table. If it's red, the first student was lying and that student must take all the cards in the middle of the table. The first student to get rid of all their cards wins the game.

I can't claim credit for this game myself. I found it over on, so you can check there to find out more about the rules. I've only used it a couple of times with adults and with teenagers and they liked it.

Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:57 pm

Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:55 am
Posts: 4
Post Re: ESL games to teach past tense?
I can suggest some picture books for teaching past tense.
Is that close enough?

I like to take pattern picture books written in present tense and read them in past tense.
For instance, you have probably seen I See Colors.
Instead of reading "I see red, I see blue, I see yellow, I see green,"
I read "I saw red, I saw blue, I saw yellow, I saw green."

Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:46 am

Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:55 am
Posts: 4
Post Re: ESL games to teach past tense?
Wait, I can suggest a game after all.
You need a die, a pencil, and scratch paper.
Each player writes "I was, you were, he was" in the first column and "We were, you were, they were" in the second column.
(If a student tries to correct you for listing "you were" twice, explain that one is singular and the other is plural.)
The 6 sentences are numbered 1 through 6.
Each player takes a turn rolling the die, reading the corresponding sentence, and scratching out that sentence.
The first player to scratch out all 6 sentences wins.

Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:50 am

Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 3:28 am
Posts: 11
Post Re: ESL games to teach past tense?
I usually give to my students some cards with an infinitive written on it. They sat in a circle and ask questions to their classmates about what did they do last weekend. They must be yes/no questions. When a pupil answer yes I did, the person who made the question takes his/her card. The student which get more cards win.

For instance: Did you watch TV last weekend?
No,I didn't
Did you drive your car?
Yes, I did.

Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:33 am
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