Idioms related to Fear & Some Colorful Magic

If you’d like to practice your colors and work a little magic, try this fun video:


Past Perfect: What Happened First?

Here’s a good place to practice the past perfect.

You can use use the flashcards on this site too. Pick any two cards. Express the events in the past tense. For example: Nick studied chemistry. Nick took a nap. Then, express the two events as one sentence, using the past perfect to show which happened first. “When Nick took a nap, he had already studied chemistry.”

Why Do People Like Scary Stories?

All cultures have scary stories and movies. Why do people enjoy being frightened?

Here’s a very scary animation based on a story by the famous American writer, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe wrote many stories and poems about scary things. This story is told through the mind of a mad person. Why does that make the story even more frightening?

* Mad = angry.  Mad= crazy, insane (In this story, “mad” means insane.)

Here’s an even scarier version. How are they different? Which do you like better? Why?

Flashcards For All Kinds of Verb Practice

Each card in this set contains a subject and a predicate. My class will be work in small groups, practicing the present perfect.

One student will ask a question of the others in his group, using the present perfect. Has Amy written a letter yet?. The next student will answer, Yes, Amy has already written a letter. The next student will answer, No, Amy hasn’t written a letter yet. 

These cards can be adapted to many levels. I also have used them with dice, the six sides of the die each representing a tense. If the students rolls a four,” for example, she might have to express the card in the present progressive tense. Amy is writing a letter. To make the exercise even more challenging, another student may be assigned to say whether the sentence is expressed as a statement, a question, a negative statement or a negative question!   +, -, ?

(The cards may be printed out or used with an opaque projector.)

Present Perfect: The Scariest Tense of All!

The present perfect tense puzzles many ESL students. The good news is that the past participle of regular verbs is the same as the simple past. Usually, add an “ed” and you have it. “I’ve walked to school every day this week.” The bad news is that many of the most common verbs in English are irregular. “I’ve spent too much money.”

It’s difficult to know when to use this tense too. Try to remember to use the present perfect in these three instances:

1. When something happened very recently. I’ve lost my keys! Help me find them, please.

2. When something began in the past and is still true. I’ve lived in the U.S. most of my life. (I still live in the U.S.) But remember: If something happened at a particular time in the past and is no longer true, use the simple past. I lived in Japan when I was a child. (I don’t live in Japan now.)

3. When something happened in the past, but the particular time isn’t important. She’s already finished her homework. (Did she finish it last night or last week? It doesn’t matter.) Have you ever been late for work?

Beware! Even with the words “always” and “never,” use the simple past if something happened at a particular time. For example: I never ate cereal for breakfast when I was a child. My grandmother always made pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. (Poor Grandmother is dead now.)

Listen to these irregular past participles. You will hear me use the contractions “I’ve,” “they’ve,” “he’s” and “she’s.” Of course, it is correct to say “he has” instead of “he’s,” but the more contractions you use, the more you will sound like a native speaker. And you must be able to understand contractions when you hear them because we use them so often.

past part. BEEN – LENT                        past part. LET – WRITE

*** A perfect tense is a tense that includes some form of “to have” as a helper verb plus the past participle. The present perfect tense includes the present tense of “to have” as the helper verb. In the present perfect tense, the helper verb is either “have” or “has.” It is never “had.” But remember that “had” can also be used as a past participle. For example: I’ve had a bad cold all winter. In this present perfect sentence, the helper verb is “have” and the past participle is “had.”

Here are the irregular verbs included in the audio files used on this blog: