In the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken you from teaching students who may or may not know how to say, “I’m from Ankara” in how to teach beginner to students being able to speak about their past vacations in how to teach elementary 1. But those students in those courses are only able to use two tenses: present simple and past simple. Elementary 2 is rather grammar heavy and teaches students at least three new tenses. In our materials, Beginner covers units 1-5 while Elementary 1 covers units 6-10. Elementary 2 is a unit shorter, so the pacing of things is a little more difficult. As teachers often say, you have to “spin things out a bit” which I initially thought was nice way of saying “waste time”, but I came to discover Elementary 2 is one of the only courses where students have enough time to actually practice what they’re learning.
After the ceremonial get to know you questions and answers, I generally dive straight into the present continuous tense. It’s an easy tense for students to grasp because it is all about now. What are you doing? I am sitting. I am listening. I am writing. I introduce some clothes vocabulary and then we talk about what is he/she wearing along with the question: What does he/she look like? So students get a lot of practice describing people. The one difficult thing is getting students to not overuse present continuous because in Turkish, it is the general tense to use. In English, we generally don’t use continuous tenses with no action verbs. For example, we say, “I want some ice cream.” Not, “I am wanting some ice cream.” In Turkish, “I am wanting…” would be more common.
Present continuous continues and there is more vocabulary, this time with body parts. But mostly week two is about future tenses. I don’t really like teaching futures, mainly because Americans tend to not follow the grammar rules. I talk about those with more depth in this post. Regardless of what I teach or how adamant I am, students will always use will to talk about the future. Mostly in this week, we try to speak of students plans for the future, which is never easy to get them to do.
As we finish the future tense, we also begin to get into an in depth look at questions. Usually I just make them practice by writing questions on the board, correcting them, then making them ask somebody in the class who has to answer.
This week begins the exploration of adjectives and adverbs. Before this week, they have only learned a handful of adverbs, so we spend a lot of time using adjectives in a sentence with no action (She is beautiful.) and then converting the sentence to have action (She dances beautifully.) We also look at adjectives a bit more, particularly -ed/-ing adjectives such as bored/boring. I always hear students say, “Teacher, I am boring.” And it is simply too tempting to say, “Yes, you are.”
In this week we learn one of the more difficult tenses for Turkish students and that is present perfect simple (have/has + past participle (also known to us as v3). This tense does not exist in Turkish. I usually explain this tense by saying it is for finished action in unfinished time. In Turkish, it seems that finished action always means past tense. Time simply isn’t as important to Turkish grammar as it is to English grammar. Usually, this tense is used to speak of experience, such as “I have been to Peru.” Or “I have never eaten sushi.” So I ask a lot of “have you ever” questions, which unfortunately return with lots of “I have never…” answers. We then do a lot of work distinguishing between past simple and present perfect. This involves looking at time expressions like since, for, ago, yesterday, last and when I was…
As usual, this week consists of finishing up things along with the exam. There’s a lot to review as students have learned three new tenses along with a lot of information dealing with question words and adverbs. The exam is pretty easy for the students. I’ve seen students get 98 on this exam. In the end, this is a great class in which to add some supplemental material.