ESL Past Tense Writing Prompts

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  • 0:04 Personalized Topics
  • 0:23 Childhood & Teen…
  • 1:49 Recent Memory Prompts
  • 3:08 Creative Prompts
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

The past tense often presents difficulties to ESL students when it's time to write. This lesson includes some ready-to-use prompts that can help your ESL students get excited about writing in the past tense.

Personalized Topics

When teaching the past tense to English as a second language (ESL) students, consider the use of personalized prompts. Personalized prompts can help to get ESL students excited about and motivated by an assignment and can include sentence completions or those designed to inspire a paragraph or longer writing piece.

Childhood & Teen Memory Prompts

Personalized prompts about childhood and teen memories are particularly good for adult ESL students. Feel free to jot some of them down.

  • One of my best childhood memories is. . .
  • My favorite childhood playing activities were. . .
  • When I was a child, I used to eat things I don't eat now and vice-versa.
  • The house where I lived as a child was. . .
  • My best vacation as a child was. . .
  • Photographs of my parents tell me a lot about their lives.
  • I remember the time I met my first best friend.
  • The neighborhood where I lived as a child/teenager was. . .
  • The first time I got on an airplane/train was. . .
  • As a teenager, my daily routine was as follows.
  • My friends when I was a teenager were. . .
  • Life in the country where I was born was different from my life now.
  • My grandparents were. . .
  • I learned to drive when I was. . .
  • I got in trouble once and this is the story.

Recent Memory Prompts

Personalized prompts about recent memories work for any ESL class, but your adult students may enjoy writing about these topics.

  • During my last vacation, I. . .
  • The restaurant we ate at last night was. . .
  • The best gift I got last Christmas was. . .
  • My last birthday was exciting because. . .
  • Last weekend I. . .
  • I have learned many things during the last twelve months, including. . .
  • I met my wife/husband/first girlfriend/first boyfriend at. . .
  • My wedding was. . .
  • My graduation was. . .
  • Last night, I watched a very enjoyable movie.
  • At my very first job. . .
  • My previous job was. . .
  • I recently helped someone. . .
  • The last time I went shopping was. . .

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