How do I teach the past simple using three approaches?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

Moderator: Susan

Registered Member
Posts: 1
Joined: 12 Oct 2004, 21:46

How do I teach the past simple using three approaches?

Unread postby stefmich » 12 Oct 2004, 23:05

I am a TESL student wanting to know how three lesson plans on a grammar point, let's say past tense, can be created using three different approaches to teaching, such as the Natural Method, Total Physical Response and Audiolinguistic method.

User avatar
Posts: 656
Joined: 13 Jan 2004, 16:09
Status: Teacher Trainer
Location: France

How do I teach the past simple using three approaches?

Unread postby Lucy » 01 Nov 2004, 20:07

You've asked me to give you some lesson plans for teaching the past simple. That is not really the purpose of this forum. I am here to answer your questions about teaching and can give you general guidelines that will help you plan your lessons. For lesson plans, you can look at various EFL websites, including:

The natural approach is based on the assumption that we learn our mother tongue through constant exposure to the language, acquiring rules naturally and applying them in original sentences. These principles have been applied to learning a foreign language, often involving a stage of focusing on the language structure to speed up the learning process. For a detailed description of this approach, you could look at the works of Krashen.

If you wanted to teach the past simple using this approach, you would start by exposing the students to the structure in a natural context. They could read or listen to a character's description of a holiday, they could read somebody's diary entry for last Wednesday. The teacher could describe what (s)he did at the weekend. I would advise focusing on the structure of the tense. You would then follow this up with a speaking activity where the past simple occurs naturally. Students could describe what they did on their last holiday, what they did at the weekend, etc. While attempting to communicate, the students have the opportunity to acquire and absorb the rules naturally. Bear in mind the role of errors in the natural approach. If a rule is only partially acquired it can be over-applied. In this lesson, students might use the "ed" ending incorrectly for an irregular verb. Decide before the lesson how you will handle these errors and how far you want to go in your presentation of irregular verbs.

Total physical response (TPR) involves students responding physically to a statement. For example: close your eyes, scratch your head, nod your head, wave your hands etc. I don't think this method would be useful for teaching the past tense and it certainly wouldn't be authentic use of the language. TPR has a role (alongside other methods) for teaching vocabulary and commands.

The audio-lingual approach is based on behaviourist psychology and emphasises the formation of good habits. Correct language is rewarded through praise. Learning is achieved through imitation and the formation of automatic responses through drilling.

When teaching the past simple with the audio-lingual approach, you could start with the students listening to a conversation between two friends talking about their activities that morning. There would probably be many examples of the structure in a short dialogue. However, the follow-up would be very different to the example above using the natural approach. After listening to the dialogue, students would listen and repeat each sentence or question. The focus would be on accuracy, understanding is not essential at this stage. You could then move onto drilling the structure. For example, the teacher says "have breakfast" the students would reply "He had breakfast at 9 o'clock; "get up: he got up at 9 o'clock". You would use the same verbs as were used in the dialogue the students listened to. There might be a brief period at the end where you personalise the structure; students can tell you what time they got up, had breakfast etc. You can take a look at the Streamline series of coursebooks for ideas on how to use the audio-lingual method.

Return to “TEFL Help Desk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests