ESL Present Continuous Tense: Exercises & Activities

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.

This lesson will help you introduce ESL students to the present continuous tense through its basic grammar formula. It also provides you with visual aids, acting activities, and conversational prompts to help your students learn.

Present Continuous Tense for ESL Students

Present continuous tense can be difficult for ESL students to grasp. This tense is used to express actions that are currently in progress. For example, you might say 'I am talking' to demonstrate present continuous. Or you might say 'My students are listening.' Both of these sentences express an action that is happening at the moment you say them.

Let's look at some exercises and activities that you can use to help your ESL students grasp present continuous tense.

Practicing the Formula

One helpful tool for teaching about present continuous tense is the magic formula for this tense:

Subject + form of 'to be' + a verb ending in ING

Have students identify the components of this formula in your sentences. For instance, in the sentence, 'I am talking':

  • I is the subject
  • am is the form of 'to be'
  • talking is a verb ending in ING

You can also have students create their own present continuous tense sentences. Provide them with images of actions occurring, like a person eating or a dog running, and then have your students craft their own sentences using the present tense and the formula.

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