Speaking activities to practice Present Tenses
Using Tense forms in English may sometimes be challenging when it comes to speaking. Students usually have no difficulty writing the correct Present Tense form, but when they start to use it in speech, they very often make mistakes. To help your students have more practice with Present tenses we have prepared a list of speaking activities. You will find suitable levels next to the activities.
- Guess when the action takes place
- Memory games
- Life in the pictures
- Make Me!
- Conversation Topics
- Watch and share
Guess when the action takes place
The activity is mainly useful for Elementary students to practice Present Simple in their speech. Ask your students to make two teams. Each of them comes up with questions about themselves using Present Simple.
1. When do I usually get up?
2. When do I do my homework?
3. When does my mother cook dinner for me?
4. When do I brush my teeth?
The other students then have to guess the answers to these questions, thus having a dialogue in Present Simple.
Student A. When do I usually get up?
Student B. You get up at 8.30 a.m.
Student A. No, I do not get up at 8.30 a.m. I get up at 8 a.m.
The following game is best used with children to practise Present Continuous in speech. It is suitable for the Elementary level but can be adjusted to higher levels as well. Ask your students to close their eyes and answer questions from their memory.
1. What is Tom wearing?
2. Where is Ann sitting?
3. What is Rob doing now?
4. How many students are sitting in the classroom?
5. Next to whom is Ryan sitting?
Charades is a classic game that can be easily adjusted in the ESL classroom to improve learners’ knowledge in Present Continuous while talking. Pick up a student who will be showing the action. Ask them to come up with a sentence with Present Continuous and act it in front of the other students. The first person to guess the sentence and to utter it using Present Continuous properly gets a point.
Life in the pictures
With the help of the following pictures, students make up a story using both Present Simple and Present Continuous. If necessary you can provide some suitable questions as well.
1. What is the weather like in the picture?
2. What is the person in the blue jacket doing?
3. With whom do you think she is talking?
4. What do you think they are talking about?
5. Do you think they always come to this park? Explain your choice.
This activity has two variations — Make me say “Yes” and Make me say “No”. Both of them are aimed at helping students to practice Present Simple and Present Continuous Tenses. Students work in pairs and ask each other questions that begin with “Do you” or “Are you”. For each “Yes, I do/am” response, they earn one point. For each “No, I don’t” or “No, I’m not” response, they either don’t get a point or lose a point!
Pre-Intermediate — Intermediate level
Here students continue improving their speaking skills using proper Present Tenses — either Present Simple or Present Continuous. They need to choose one of the topics and talk about it. If necessary you can also provide them with corresponding questions.
Ask your students to choose two different topics where they will be able to use both Present Simple and Present Continuous.
- Daily routine
- My weekend
- My favourite book
- I am dreaming about…
- Best destination for travelling
Watch and share
This activity is suitable for the Intermediate level and it can be used to practise Present Continuous referring to the future as well. Provide a video of up to 3 minutes and ask your students to retell the videos using Present Tenses. They must also share their opinion using proper tenses. The video you use can be either an episode from a movie, or a tv show, or a cartoon.
To make things more challenging, students may have a role-play dialogue taking the roles of the actors. Ask them to write down some notes to role-play it properly.
This was the list of the speaking activities that I use in my classes to help students have more practice with Present Simple and Present Continuous. Of course, you are always free to add some more details to the activities and adjust them to your classroom. Before choosing the activity do not forget to take into consideration the age, the level and the interest of your students.