Nobody wants to be isolated—not even verb tenses!
Most textbooks present verb tenses in isolation. Students study the simple present before moving onto the present progressive, simple past, etc. This is necessary at first because students need to learn all the rules and exceptions for the form (how to form the verb) and function (when it’s used) of each verb tense in English.
After they’ve learned a verb tense, however, it’s not always beneficial to only give exercise after exercise where students must produce that one tense. It’s easy enough to produce the simple present when it’s the only tense being asked for, but can your students distinguish when to use the simple present vs. the present progressive? How about the present vs. the past and future?
Mix It Up
When I was teaching four‑skills classes, I found most textbooks were sorely lacking in this area. The tenses were only taught in isolation, and though my students could ace an exercise, they couldn’t use the tense properly in general speech or writing. My TOEIC students had the advantage of studying/reviewing some or all the tenses at the same time.
When I saw how teaching and practicing multiple tenses worked for the “big verb tense picture,” I started creating my own review sheets that mixed the tenses. That way, my students learned how the tenses worked together, and they really understood the importance of context and time markers. They were better able to produce the correct tense in everyday speaking and writing. And as a teacher, I could easily see which tenses were still causing trouble for my students.
Time for a Change
At ESL Library, we strive to provide much more than the average textbook. We recently created a NEW, ready‑made mixed tense lesson in our Grammar Practice Worksheets section: Verb Tense Review 1 – The Simple Tenses.
This lesson offers 13 pages of various combinations of the simple present, simple past, simple future, present progressive (also known as present continuous), past progressive, and future progressive.
You’ll find exercises that combine:
- all six tenses
- the present, past, and future
- the simple present and present progressive
- the simple past and past progressive
- the simple future and future progressive
The exercises include verb worksheets as well as speaking and writing exercises, so you will clearly see which tenses your students have mastered and which still require some work.
Verb Tense Review 2 – The Perfect Tenses is also available now. This review features a mix of the present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, past perfect progressive, future perfect, and future perfect progressive.
We hope these worksheets are beneficial to you and your students! Please let us know what you think in the comment section below.