10 Present Perfect For Experiences Activities

By Alex Case
Speaking activities for the simplest use of has/have + past participle.

In most of the activities below you can give students a worksheet or cut up cards with verbs on that they must use in the activity, in order to stop each question being “Have you ever been to…?”

1. Make me say “Yes, I have”/Make me say “No, I haven’t”

The students must ask “Have you ever” questions to the teacher or their classmates that they think will get the answer “Yes, I have”, e.g. “Have you ever slept until 10?” They get one point if the answer actually is “Yes” but no points if the answer is “No, I haven’t”. The person with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. You can then reverse the rules of the game so that they must try to get “No” answers with questions like “Have you ever eaten snake?”

2. Present Perfect question substitution and extension

The game above can also be played with the restriction that students can only change part of the previous question, e.g. following “Have you ever flown in a balloon?” with “Have you ever flown in a helicopter?” or “Have you ever let go of a balloon outside?” An even more fun variation is to make them extend the question each time, e.g. “Have you ever flown in a balloon outside Japan?” then “Have you ever flown in a balloon outside Japan while on holiday?” They should try to design their questions so that they get the same answer each time.

Both of these variations can also be used without the “Make me say” challenge, making the challenge just to make as many questions as they can while keeping to the extending or only changing one part rules.

3. Must say “Yes, I have”

In this game the person being asked the Yes/No question such as “Have you ever been higher than 5000 metres” must answer “Yes”, even if that isn’t true. The other students ask them three follow up questions (e.g. “How did it feel?” and “How did you get there?”) and then try to guess whether the original answer was true or not.

4. Present Perfect T and L

A similar game to Must Say Yes I Have above is giving each student five cards which are a mixture of L (for lie) and T (for true) ones. They choose one of their cards and lay it face down on the table, then make a statement that matches the card they have put there, e.g. “I have eaten ants”. Their partners ask them for details (at which point they can continue lying if the original statement was a lie) and guess if the card is an L or T one.

5. Actually, I have done that one

Students are asked a fixed number of questions, e.g. five, and must lie in just one their answers. You can get them using Wh questions (“Which countries have you been to?”) or Yes/No ones (“Have you ever cooked Mexican food?”) The people who asked the questions then ask for details and try to work out from how realistic the stories sound which is the false one.

6. We both have/Only I have/I have more than you

Ask pairs of students to find things they have both done, things only they have done, or things they have done (in their lives) more often than their partner. This can also be played for points or as a mingling game.

7. Present Perfect Sentence completion guessing game

Give students a worksheet with twenty to thirty sentence starters like “I have never seen __________” and “I have climbed __________”. Students fill in at least half the sentences with true and interesting information, then take turns reading out just the bit they have written (e.g. “a British film”) for the other students to guess which place they put that in (“You’ve been in a British film.” “Of course not. Try again.”)

8. Job interviews

Roleplaying job interviews should naturally bring up questions like “Have you ever given a PowerPoint presentation?”. You can also add more language by giving them problem cards like “You’ve never used a computer” and “You’ve been in prison”, telling the interviewer that they should ask questions until they find out what the problem is. The interviewee can’t lie about that information, but they can try to avoid answering the question.

9. Present Perfect suggestions

This meaning of the Present Perfect tense can come up both in the explanation of problems (“I’ve never kissed a girl”) and the answers (“Have you thought about/tried/heard about/ever…?”)

10. Haven’t I met you somewhere before?

This activity in Intermediate Communication games can also easily be done without the book to photocopy from. Students ask their partners “Haven’t I met you somewhere before?” and must ask each other questions (“Have you ever worked in a hospital?” “When was that?”) until they find where it could have been. Even students who have never met can usually find a time when they might have been in the same place at the same moment. Alternatively, you can give them names of famous, historical or fictional people who do have an obvious connection (e.g. Tony Blair/Queen Elizabeth or John Smith/Pocahontas) and tell them to answer the questions from the perspective of that person without saying their name.

Written by Alex Case for Teflnet March 2012
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
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