It’s not always like that: speaking tasks on Present Simple vs Present Continuous
One-on-one students often find gap-filling exercises boring and promise to cope with them at home. Of course, they make promises and then break them:) Without sufficient practice, learners can’t use grammar structures properly. So we can give them controlled speaking practice to help memorize the pattern. In fact, the tasks in this article are modified drills but learners still feel that they gain more use from them than just making exercises in writing.
These tasks are suitable for pre-intermediate but can be adjusted to higher levels.
Ask me a question
Learners need to be able not only to answer the questions but to ask them. Make prompts of the questions that can be made either in Present Simple or Present Continuous with some adverbs like sometimes, every Sunday, now, at this moment or without them. Ask and answer the questions with your student. So first it’s grammar practice and then speaking.
- What/your mother look like?What / be / your town like?
- How often/you use English?
- What book/read this week?
- What apps/your mobile phone have?
- What/want at this moment?
- Who/you get on with best in your family?
- What/you do to relax in the evenings?
- What clothes/you need/buy this winter?
It’s not always like that
In this activity, learners need to distinguish between temporary and regular actions. They can make some true sentences about themselves. Ask them some guiding questions if they can think of any facts.
Think of something which is not typical for you:
- this week;
- this month;
- this year.
For example, I usually wear earrings but I’m not wearing them today because I forgot to put them on.
Watch and comment
Language learners adore TV series in English. Show a short video to your students, pause it from time to time and ask them to comment on what the people are doing. In addition, ask learners to add more information about these people and their habits.
- They are having dinner in a restaurant now + (about their typical behaviour).
- They go to this restaurant every Sunday.
I’ve chosen an episode of “Younger”, just selected and cut some scenes.
- They’re having a meeting.
- They’re having dinner in a restaurant.
- They’re drinking wine.
- They’re having a row.
- They’re meditating /relaxing.
- They’re having a party.
- She’s shouting.
- They’re watching the news.
- They’re hugging.
- She’s doing some exercise.
- They’re kissing.
You can make fragments longer if you want to practice not only grammar but draw students’ attention to vocabulary in real life situations.
Wish you were here
(adapted from 700 classroom activities by Seymour, Popova)
Ask your students to imagine that they are on holiday. They are sitting in a cafe and there’s a lot going on. They need to record a text message to someone back home and describe what they see (city, people, weather) using Present Continuous. They can tell more about traditions in this country using Present Simple (what people eat, what they wear etc).