perfect simple or continuous by Sandra Bradwell
You will need a copy of the coursebooks Cutting Edge,
Upper Int, unit 5
& International Express, Upper Int, unit 1
Time: 80 mins
We are using Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate as a course book and in module
5, the grammar focus is on the perfect aspect in the past, present and
future and on the differences between the present perfect simple and present
perfect continuous forms. It is the latter which I am going to focus on
in the observed lesson. In the last three lessons from this unit we have
looked at unusual personal achievements and human achievements in politics,
society, medicine and technology. We have been doing a lot of activities
in class, practising the skills of listening, reading, speaking from a
video prompt, using verb-noun word combinations and although there has
been a lot of exposure to a variety of perfect forms and students know
them, they still find it difficult to use them correctly when they are
speaking and make a lot of mistakes. These are complex forms which have
very different forms when translated into Spanish. In the last lesson
we were choosing the best timelines to reflect sentences in the perfect
aspect and students noticed that the present perfect simple form exists
in Spanish but is not always the best translation for the present perfect
simple form in English. As most of the students showed an interest in
grammar on the needs analysis sheet at the beginning of the academic year
and in the feedback at Christmas, I felt it would be a good opportunity
to focus more specifically on the present perfect simple and present perfect
continuous, providing them with a worksheet which will serve as a record.
As the students are all young adults and interested in English for work
purposes, I have also decided to move away from the book slightly, to
give students the opportunity of preparing a job interview role play which
they will find more useful than the role plays in the book: flat hunting
and a flatmate and her boyfriend having problems. I plan to continue work
on verb forms and the pronunciation of weak forms and contractions over
the course. I would like to video the role play in a future class if the
students show interest .
To provide an opportunity for students to discuss and analyse the differences
between the present perfect simple and present perfect continuous forms
from a clear context (stage 5 )
To develop skill of noticing word stress, weak forms of auxiliaries have/has
and been (stage 4, stage 6)
To illustrate the present perfect simple and present perfect continuous
forms on timelines (stage 5)
To develop the listening skill: prediction skills (stage 2), intensive
listening for specific details (stage 3 ), intensive listening for key
grammatical forms (stage 4)
To reinforce forms by providing varied contexts: visuals (stage 8), snippet
of song (stage 7)
Grammar is one of the areas that most students are concerned about and
using the present perfect simple and present perfect continuous forms
to speak about biographical details, whether in an interview situation
or not, is a useful skill and something of interest to most people. Some
of the students will be preparing for the First Certificate in English
exam next year and so will need a sound grounding in all the grammatical
forms to be able to produce a good written exam and perform well in the
The course book provides a lot of language in context in the reading and
the language focus 1 section, but language focus 2 only provides six visual
cues to contrast the present perfect simple, present perfect continuous
and then moves on to some practice sentences before developing two role
plays: Paul flat hunting, Jayne who has a flatmate having problems with
her boyfriend. The analysis box in the student's book is very clear but
students can look at this at home. I wanted to analyse the different forms
from a listening context as students need practice in this skill and the
listening from International Express Upper Intermediate provides a section
of an interview situation which is quite natural with the repetitions
and some of the discourse features of more natural speech as well as providing
a context which will lead into the job interview role play.
I decided to begin the lesson with vocabulary review from previous lessons
to provide an opportunity for speaking, to help students remember items
and to allow any late students to arrive.
task will hopefully prepare students for the listening by providing a
clear context, a face for the voice and some useful vocabulary. It will
also activate their schemata and allow for some prediction and speaking.
I have designed a worksheet for the main body of the lesson, adapting
the original task from International Express Upper Intermediate unit 1.
It provides a tapescript which highlights the pauses in the interview
and has gaps to focus attention on the grammatical forms. It summarises
the most important differences of each grammatical form in a table, commenting
on the similarities, usual contexts and most useful verbs. It finally
draws attention to the pronunciation of clauses. It moves from intensive
listening for details of the main ideas expressed in the listening, to
focus on the two grammatical forms under study: the present perfect simple,
present perfect continuous. I want to encourage a guided discovery approach
to grammar, encouraging students in pairs to look at the forms in context
and think about the differences before asking them specifically to analyse
features in the table which will reinforce the distinction and make it
know the forms, I have included work on work stress and the pronunciation
of weak forms. Again I want to encourage them to use their knowledge from
previous lessons to predict the features before checking on the cassette.
As I want to build up to some oral production in the form of a role play
at the end of the lesson, I think it is important to drill the features
of pronunciation. The main reasons are to help students notice the rhythm,
to give them an opportunity for very controlled practice, which is unnatural
but gives confidence, it helps them get their mouth around the structure
and provides a variety of pace. The snippet of song from the Beatles at
the end of this stage in the lesson is to add variety and to provide a
memorable context for the grammatical forms and pronunciation. Some students
can remember songs without making much effort.
stage of the lesson involves the materials from the student's book. I
decided to have them colour photocopied and have put them on card to make
them attractive. I have indicated pronunciation features on the written
cues: word stress, weak forms. By putting them around the room, students
will have an opportunity to get out of their seats and comment on the
best sentence. For the spatial learners it will provide a very valuable
context for the grammatical forms and highlight the differences in the
two forms even further. I asked students to look at these pictures in
their books for homework at the end of the last lesson and am hoping this
will help them complete the task quickly and correctly. I plan to change
pairs before this activity and am going to use vocabulary collocation
to pair students up. The expressions will be taken from the listening
and the song snippet and I am hoping it will provide a short drill.
The last two stages of the lesson build up to a role play of a job interview,
which provides a natural, useful context for the use of the two verbs
forms. Students will prepare their role in two groups AAA/BBB. They will
have some prompts to develop their role and can be themselves, a famous
person or a fictitious character. I will remind students to think carefully
about the verb forms they use and when the past simple form is used. They
will help each other in their two groups before practising in pairs. I
will tell the students that, after practising in pairs, one pair will
perform their interview and be taped at the end. I will monitor carefully
at the preparation stage to ensure students have understood and choose
the correct forms. The students will have six minutes to practise in pairs
before the demonstration. I will tape the demonstration role play. While
one pair perform the role play, the other students will listen out for
the use of the present perfect simple, present perfect continuous forms
used and tick the topic areas where they are used on their role play sheet.
If students find this difficult, they can focus their attention mainly
on the language used by the person carrying out their role: the candidate
or the interviewer.
will provide a useful working document for future reference.
Students are familiar with the verb forms. Since Christmas I have been
trying to help students notice and practise connected speech and word
stress but students find this area difficult and it sounds very unnatural.
problems and solutions:
Students will probably find the listening challenging so the pre-listening
task (stage 2) is vitally important. I have prepared an attractive flashcard
to focus their attention on the speaker and the cues will help activate
schemata and provide an opportunity for pre-teaching some important vocabulary
before the listening: self-employed, recruitment consultancy.
Students will not be familiar with some vocabulary: to take on (staff),
to start up (a service), it's worth ..ing, to switch off from (work),
supportive but I hope it will not distract them from the task. Most of
the vocabulary is clear or can be worked out from the context.
Students may confuse the present participle and the gerund in stage 5
as the form is the same. I can explain the difference to students if this
Students may not remember what state verbs are so I have included some
examples and indicated a page reference from the student book on the worksheet
to reduce anxiety.
Stages 3, 4, 5, 6 require a lot of concentration. I hope I have planned
sufficient variety of activity, change of pace to keep students involved
There are 8 students in the class. We meet twice a week for one hour 20
minutes on Monday and Wednesday afternoons from 16.05 to 17.25. The age
range is between 19 and 48. I have been teaching the group since the beginning
of October 2002. Some students in the group have been studying at Chester
for several years, others have just started this year. They are a mixed
group but work very well together. I include a list of the students and
a brief comment about each one.
- She is studying the final year of her degree course. She is keen and
communicative but tends to speak too much Spanish unnecessarily. Her vocabulary
is good. She wants to understand every word when listening
and consequently gets frustrated easily. She is a little erratic in handing
Javier - He is 19 and in his final year at school. He participates well
in class and has a very good memory for vocabulary. His listening and
speaking skills are good but he tends to finish activities quickly rather
than maximising opportunities to speak. He makes careless mistakes in
his written work. He rarely takes notes in class.
Francisco - He is 26 and an industrial engineer. The official language
at work is English but everybody speaks Spanish. He is very keen and participates
well. His listening skills are good and he regularly takes books out of
the school library. He participates well in pair work but is quiet and
a little shy in whole group activities. His written work is good. He will
always ask about vocabulary if he is not sure about something. He was
absent in the last lesson.
Carmen - She works as a secretary in a company. She studied French at
school and started learning English a few years ago. She finds the listening
and speaking activities difficult. She is keen but struggling a bit at
the moment. She has handed in very little homework but told me that she
does not like writing.
Mª Teresa - She is a lawyer and works at the Mint. She is a quiet
student. Her listening skills are quite good. Her writing is good. She
participates well in pair work but takes a back seat in bigger group activities.
Irene - She is studying Economics and working as a dance teacher at the
same time. She is nervous about her English and has commented that she
thinks she is the weakest in the group. She doesn't always understand
me. She speaks quietly and works better in pair/ group work than in whole
group activities. Her written work is good. She likes to make notes of
new vocabulary and expressions.
Virginia - She is a computer programmer and needs English for her job.
She is very communicative but makes a lot of mistakes because she is very
spontaneous. She has good listening skills and reads books from the school
library. The only student to have done all the homework. She makes a lot
of mistakes in her written work and is concerned about her grammar.
Fran Alemán - He works for the Spanish Open University in the mass
media department making educational videos. He is learning English for
travel rather than work purposes. He was studying a First Certificate
course last year but found it difficult and asked to repeat the upper
intermediate course this year. He is extrovert and likes to make jokes
in class. He participates a lot and works very well with all the students.
His listening skills are quite good and his vocabulary is good but he
is not very accurate when he speaks and in his writing. He has not been
to class since Christmas because his wife has had an accident.
students find the vocabulary load difficult. I try to consolidate as much
as possible to make it easier for them to remember. They all found the
listening part of the Christmas exam difficult.
time & interaction
Students take turns to define/ guess vocabulary items/expressions
practise defining vocabulary module 5
To review vocabulary from previous lessons
2. Refer to flashcard on board and prompts. Students in pairs predict
information - who, what/do, what/doing, marital status
3. Students in pairs brainstorm ideas (2/3 mins)
4. Students make suggestions
5. Hand out worksheet, ss read introduction a self-employed businesswoman
...started her own recruitment consultancy
To focus students on task
To provide face for voice on tape later to help focus spatial learners
To activate schemata and develop prediction skills before listening
To provide opportunity for speaking and sharing ideas
To involve students
To share ideas
To provide information about f/c
To introduce some important vocabularybefore listening
Students read through task
2. 1 Listen and make notes
3. Compare with partner
4. 2 Listen again (if necessary)
5. Feedback OHP
To develop intensive listening skill, listening for specific details
To share knowledge, reduce anxiety
To help students complete task
To save time
To provide written model of notes
ohp (t copy)
Students read through task and predict what type of language fills
2. 3 Listen
3. 4 Listen beginning and complete gaps (stop cassette)
4. Compare partner
5. Feedback OHP
To activate grammatical knowledge of sentence structure
To give opportunity to listen and read
To notice pauses, unstressed, stressed words
To listen for and write verb forms
To share knowledge, reduce anxiety
To save time
To provide opportunity to check spellings, highlight contracted
Discuss which 2 verb forms and difference?
3. Complete grammar analysis, look for examples in interview NB
D!! Think about timelines
4. Feedback OHP/board
encourage students to think about verb forms and use: present perfect
simple/ present perfect continuous
To share knowledge
To reinforce the differences of the two forms
To encourage students to be analytical and reflect on aspects to
To provide clear record
ohp (t copy)
Students in pairs predict which words stressed and discuss what
happens to auxiliary have/has
2. 9 5 Listen beginning
3. Feedback on OHP/board
4. Drill sentences - back chain, slow to fast, all group, pairs,
encourage students to think about and apply knowledge of stressed/unstressed
To compare listening with predictions
To mark word stress, weak forms and provide record
To emphasise rhythm
To provide opportunity for very controlled practice
To build confidence
To vary pace
ohp (t copy)
Put phonemic cues for beginning of Beatles song on OHP. Ss try to
To provide memorable context for grammar/ pronunciation
Change pairs (match 2 halves of sentence)
2. In pairs, students walk around room, looking at pictures and
decide which sentence a or b best describes each situation
vary pairing of students
To provide drill of structures
To consolidate work done in class and provide link with student
To provide visual context for spatial learners
To give students opportunity to speak, move around
cues SB p58
sentence cues SB p58
Prepare interview role AAA/BBBNB think about tenses PAST SIMPLE
help each other prepare role
To provide useful context for practice of structures orally
To check if students can distinguish use of structures
In pairs A/B students practise interview role play
2. Pair demonstrate for group, other students listen for verb forms
give speaking practice
To give reason for practising role play
To encourage students to listen for forms
To have record on tape for analysis
in/give out homework
Student book page 59 ex. 1, workbook page 33 ex. 6
Write about topics in interview roleplay
Remind students about 2 minute talk about achievement
Pairing activity cues - vocabulary collocation
Colour flashcard Andrea Fraser - enlarged and backed on card
Colour flashcards - enlarged and backed on card from Cutting Edge Upper
Intermediate Student book page 58
Sentence cues with stress and weak forms highlighted from Cutting Edge
Upper Intermediate Student book page 58 - backed on card
for listening, grammar analysis and focus on pronunciation
Transparencies of worksheet (Teacher copy)
Transparency - phonemic cues to predict Beatles song
Worksheet of role play: Candidate / Interviewer
Beatles: A Hard Day's Night
International Express Upper Intermediate cassette 1
to an extract from an interview with Andrea Fraser, a self-employed
businesswoman who started her own recruitment consultancy two years
a note of what she says about:
a web-based recruitment service:
being her own boss:
Read through the interview - what language is missing from the gaps
( _____ )?
Listen and notice the pauses and stressed words.
Listen again and complete the gaps in the script.
- interviewer, A - Andrea
Andrea, you have your own company. How successful _______ _______
Well, I' ___ ______ ________ my own business for just over two years
now, and er and in that time we' ______ ____________ about a hundred
and twenty client companies, which is one a week on average. So,
I would say pretty successful. I mean, er well, the business ______
_______ successful right from day one, but for the last six months
it' ___ _________ _____________ really fast
. I' _____
__________ on three new staff members, and recently I'____ _______
________________ for new offices - there just isn't enough space
here any more
.. And er we, we'______ also just __________________
up a new web-based recruitment service, which is doing really well,
it's very popular
So it's definitely worth making the move to working for yourself?
Well yes, yes for me, because I'____ always _____________ to be
my own boss. And, and it's great, you know, you have the freedom
and the independence to do what you want you, you make all the decisions
but erm well, it is, it is incredibly hard work. You know, it's
very hard to ever switch off completely erm - I mean, I I really
do work twelve hours a day, six, well seven days a week. There's
very little free time and everything else just has to fit in around
work, really. Um
You have an understanding husband, though?
Oh yes. I'm very lucky that he's extremely supportive, yes, yes.
It does help.
Which two verb forms are in the gaps?
Why are two different forms used? The expressions in bold may help
The two verb forms in the gaps are:
_________ + _____________
complete / instant actions _________now ........ number of
things achieved _________now ........B with state verbs (be,
like, know, hear ) _________now ........
see state verbs student bk page 147 A3
________ + ________ + ______________
focuses on duration of activity over period of time e.g. for
just over 2 years (possibly unfinished activity) _________now
........D repetition of activity over period of time _________now
Both forms talk about something BEFORE the present and which affects
the PRESENT NOW.
Some of the most common verbs used in the present perfect simple
(Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English page 464)
These forms are usually found in:
Which words are stressed?
I've been running my own business
been looking for new offices
been growing really fast
attracted about a hundred and twenty...
business has been successful
also just started up a ...
What happens to have / have been / has been ?
Edge Upper Intermediate Module 5 Language Focus 2
Prompts cut up on card from students' book page 58
He's stood on one leg for thirty-six hours.
He's been standing on one leg for thirty-six
They've been learning about nuclear physics.
They've learned about nuclear physics.
She's won an Olympic medal.
She's been winning an Olympic medal.
They've painted their ceiling.
They've been painting their ceiling.
She's made over twenty phone calls.
She's been making over twenty phone calls.
He's owned the restaurant for fifty years.
He's been owning the restaurant for fifty years.
... has studied / has been studying English for less than six years.
... has studied / has been studying another language. Which?
... has always lived / has always been living in the same city.
... has worked / has been working with computers in the last five
... has had / has been having more than two different jobs.
... has worked / has been working on a new project recently.
You are going to be interviewed for a very good job. Decide on the
details of your life
and make brief notes for the ideas below.Do not write complete sentences.
Your studies - what? why? how long / studying?
present job - how long? what / do? recent projects? do / anything
- which / studied? how long? why? Family
married? how long? what does he/she do?
in new job - why? what / looking for?
- what? how long?
You are going to interview a person for the job you have vacant.
Prepare a few questions to ask using the ideas below.
studies - what? why? how long / studying?
present job - how long? what / do? recent projects? do / anything
- which / studied? how long? why?
- married? how long? what does he/she do?
in new job - why? what / looking for?
- what? how long?
To the original lesson plan