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ESL Simple Present Tense: Games & Exercises

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 provides you with an engaging way to introduce the simple present tense, with follow-up activities and games for students to practice in a way that simulates real life situations.

Introducing Simple Present Tense

Most students are interested in celebrities, so get them using simple present tense by talking about a current celebrity. Choose a celebrity of interest to your class, for example, Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter, is generally popular among children. Prepare for the lesson by placing a picture of the celebrity on the board surrounded by verbs in the basic form along with a piece of information to use with the verb.

For example, for Daniel Radcliffe, you could have:

  • Work / as an actor
  • Act / in Harry Potter movies
  • Live / in New York
  • Donate / money to organizations
  1. Model simple present tense to your students by saying 'Daniel Radcliffe works as an actor'. (To emphasize the 's' at the end of the sentence, you could say 'I work as a teacher. He works as an actor'.)
  2. Ask students to form sentences with the other choices.
  3. Explain more about the uses of the simple present tense with examples.
  • Descriptions (Daniel Radcliffe is thin.)
  • Reference to habits or actions that occur with a specific frequency (Daniel Radcliffe often travels to England.)
  • Facts (Daniel Radcliffe likes ice hockey.)
  • Scheduled events (Daniel Radcliffe speaks tonight at 8 pm on a TV program.)

Increase students' engagement in the lesson by pointing out that the basic verb form is usually used with first and second person and that the only change for third person is the addition of 's/es', e.g., 'I jump', 'you jump', 'he jumps'.

With this introduction, students are ready to practice and learn how to ask questions 'Do you...?', 'Does he...?', etc. through the following activities.

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