Teaching the Present Perfect – Dr TEFL Guides

Teaching the Present Perfect

English grammar teaching – the Present Perfect

Hi Everyone,

It’s Dr TEFL once again for my weekly TEFL teaching tips. I hope you have all been doing well, teaching online and face to face classes. One thing Dr TEFL knows for sure – there will always be a need for well trained and experienced EFL/ESL teachers. My advice is to keep learning, acquiring skills, preparing engaging and useful lessons, and of course, keeping abreast of all new things in our TEFL sector. Today, I will talk about the Present Perfect. Teaching grammar is not the fave of many EFL teachers, but sorry folks, EFL and ESL teachers must teach grammar. No way out!

Your beginner students need to learn grammar to understand English language basics. Your intermediate students need a solid grammar base to help them improve. Your advanced students must know more complex grammar structures so that they can form coherent and logical sentences.

Sorry guys, if we want to be effective EFL/ESL teachers, we need to know how to teach English grammar to match the learner’s level.

I am not talking about becoming grammar heads. Noooo! I am talking about teaching grammar or knowing it well enough to do a credible demo class at interview time. Some language schools told me that they asked recent TEFL graduates to do a demonstration class on a grammar point as part of their job interviews.

If this happens, volunteer to do a demonstration class based on the present perfect tense. To help you prepare for an interview demonstration class or give a lesson on the present perfect to your students, here are some tips for you:

Some Present Perfect teaching tips

English teaching resources: “For” / “since” (with the present perfect).

English level: B2

Objective: Practising the present perfect as a speaking game


It is essential to vary the activities, especially grammar, so the students don’t get bored and inattentive. We should also increase the number of grammar speaking exercises because they are the most useful exercises. They are also the most challenging exercises.

Activity 1: Oral practice of for / since

Invite a confident student to come to the front of the class for an interview. The rest of the students should take turns to ask questions. The questions can be anything but make sure that they are neutral. It would be best if you moderate the questions. The last thing you need is a fight because some smart-alec is asking awkward questions.

Encourage the student being interviewed to answer each question as fully as possible. After a few minutes, invite another student to be interviewed and continue the activity. Prompt them to ask questions in the present perfect or require an answer in the present perfect, e.g. How long have you studied English?

Activity 2: Game – FOR or SINCE

Explain to the class that they will play a game to remember how to use “for” and “since” with the present perfect.

Write “FOR” on an A4-size piece of paper. Write “SINCE” on another. Stick both sheets on a wall in the classroom or on the board if there is one.

If you think you should review when “FOR” and “SINCE” are used, do it now. “For” refers to time duration and “since” refers to a point in time.

Read a few time expressions to your students that use for and since, e.g., “ten minutes” (for), “last year” (since). Ask the students to point to the correct word on the wall.

Continue the activity until all students have participated and seem to be confident about their understanding. You could read the time expressions faster to increase enjoyment and challenge.

Activity 3: Oral wrap up

Put the students in pairs and tell them to express what grammar and vocabulary they HAVE LEARNT. Have them tell each other what activities and exercises they HAVE DONE.

Activity 4: Back up, spelling game

Jumble a word from the vocabulary used in the lesson and dictate the letters. The students listen and write letters.

They then turn to a partner and unjumble the letters, trying to discover the word.

Repeat the procedure with other words from the vocabulary.

The winner is the pair who has unjumbled most words correctly in the shortest possible time.

Was your class a success?

If all has gone well, your students should be happy they improved how they use the present perfect …

OR …

you aced your job interview demonstration class and got a job offer.

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