As an ESL teacher, you need lots of activities for teaching the past tense of irregular verbs. Although there are just 180 irregular verbs in English, the most commonly used verbs are all irregular. In fact, seven out of ten times we use a verb, it is an irregular one. It is your responsibility to make sure your students can understand and properly produce the irregular forms.
Since irregular verbs are so common, you can practice them in almost any type of activity. Offer your students variety to keep them interested and allow students who learn in different ways to shine.
Your textbook will have written exercises for practicing the past tense of irregular verbs, but you can also create your own:
For Beginning Students
High Beginner and Intermediate Students
Make up a story or discuss a current events story in class. Have students rewrite the story in the format of a news article in the past tense. Encourage them to use irregular verbs by giving them a list of verbs to use. For instance, if the story is about a burglary, students would need to use such words as stole and broke into.
Oral storytelling is a natural way to practice irregular verbs in context. In an intermediate or advanced class, ask a student to tell the class about a past event or time in his or her life. If the student cannot think of a suitable event, offer a prompt, such as, "What was your best vacation?" or "What was your first job?"
Another storytelling activity that can practice irregular verbs is a chain story. Start the story yourself with a simple sentence in the past, such as, "Yesterday, I went to the store." Each student will have to add a sentence that uses an irregular verb in the past to continue the story, such as, "I met a clown there." Go around the room until every student has had a chance.
Games make great activities for past tense of irregular verbs in ESL. Classroom games wake students up and provide a dose of healthy competition. Assign online games as homework. Students love the fast pace and immediate feedback of online games.
Let your imagination be your guide as you develop more activities to explore the past tense of irregular verbs. There are an endless variety of options.
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