Are you looking for some ESL present perfect games and activities to try out with your students today? Then you’re most definitely in the right place. Keep on reading for our top ten p.p. activities for English learners, along with some present perfect questions and a quick primer on what the present perfect actually is.
Present Perfect Games and Activities for ESL
Are you ready? Let’s get to our top picks for best present perfect games and activities, along with tips and tricks for how to teach the present perfect.
You may also want to check this out: Present Continuous Games.
#1 ESL Present Perfect Activity: Surveys
I’m ALL about ESL surveys for a wide variety of topics and grammar points in my classroom. They’re awesome for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Student-centred to the max
- They cover a wide range of skills
- Students interact with lots of others
- They’re useful for sleepy classes
- You can adapt them easily for any level, grammar point, or vocabulary
One area that fits in very well with surveys is the present perfect and the simple past. The initial question is in the present perfect and then the follow-up is in the simple past, either with a regular or an irregular verb (more irregular verb games here). For example:
“Have you taken a fun vacation before?”
“Yeah, sure, I went to Italy last year?”
“What city did you go to?”
Do you want to find out more about this present perfect activity? Then you’ll need to check it out right here: Surveys for ESL.
You could also consider doing a survey for daily schedules or routines and then switching to the simple past for the follow-up question related to time (more ideas here: telling time activities).
#2: Error Correction Relay Race
#3: Present Perfect Board Games
I love to play board games in real life, so like to incorporate some into my classes as well. Of course, I make my own to match whatever I’m teaching. In this case, I’d fill up the board with lots of questions using the present perfect.
Do you want to find out more about how you can make your own ESL board games for your students? Then you’ll want to check out this short article right here: How to Make ESL Board Games. Or, you watch this video below:
#4: Is that Sentence Correct?
This is a simple grammar review activity that can also make a quick warm-up at the beginning of class. The way it works is that you write some sentences on the board. Some are correct while others are not. Students have to work with a partner to decide which ones they need to change to make correct.
Of course, you’d use the present perfect for the sentences. It’s also an ideal way to differentiate grammatically between things like the p.p. and the present perfect continuous or simple past.
More details right here: ESL Grammar Review Activity.
#5: Dictation Listening and Writing Activity
#6: Using Timelines to Teach Verb Tenses
It can be a little bit confusing for our students when it comes down to the finer details of present perfect vs present perfect continuous. Or, simple past vs present perfect. There are certainly some important differences, but they can also be quite subtle.
One of the best ways to explain this is to use timelines. Basically, you can show when an activity started and finished, whether that’s in the past, present, or future. Do you want to know more about this? Then you’ll want to check this out:
#7: Running Dictation
I know, I know, it’s a bit of a theme here. I’m sharing all of my favourite, super-versatile ESL activities and games that lend themselves well to just about topic or grammar point. ESL Running dictation is certainly another one of them.
The way I do it to post sentences from a conversation at various points around the classroom. Then one student has to read them, remember them and report back to their partner who writes them down. Once they’ve finished writing down all the sentences, they have to put them in the correct order to make coherent conversation.
Of course, you’d want to choose a conversation that focuses on the present perfect. Look in your textbook for some examples.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 87 Pages - 10/24/2019 (Publication Date)
#8: Using Videos for Teaching the Present Perfect
I’m ALL about using videos in my ESL classroom. It brings a bit of excitement to learning that a boring old textbook just doesn’t! The good news is that it’s super easy to find an ESL video on just about any topic or grammar point on YouTube or English Central.
In this case, you’ll want to search for “present perfect ESL” to see what comes up. You should be able to find a video to suit the level and age of your students quite easily. Have a look at this one:
#9 Present Perfect Speaking Activity: The Memory Circle
One of the most versatile activities is this memory circle one. You can use it for just about anything from names to vocabulary to grammar. In this case, you’d want students to make a sentence about something they’re never done.
The first student starts off the game with the sentence, “I’ve never played tennis.” The next student says that first sentence and then adds their own. “She’s never played tennis and I’ve never eaten sushi.” The game continues on until all the students have gone. Or, you can play indefinitely with students sitting down when they make an error and can’t remember something.
More information about this fun present perfect speaking activity right here: Memory Circle ESL Game.
#10: Never Have I Ever…
We’ve probably all played this fun party game with our friends before. The way it works is that each person takes turns saying a statement. For example, “Never have I ever been drunk.” It should be something that they’ve actually never done. If people have done it, they would raise their hand or stand up.
When you play with friends, this game can usually get a bit raunchy. However, it doesn’t have to be like that and you can certainly play it with kids! Here’s an example of a kid friendly never have I ever question. “Never have I ever stayed up all night.”
Do you want to find out more about how you can play this with your ESL students? Then you’ll want to check out all the details right here: Never Have I Ever for English Learners.
#11: Need to Do, But Haven’t Done Yet
Working in pairs, students try to find something that their partner needs to do but hasn’t done yet this week. For example, “Have you taken out the trash yet?” Or, “Have you washed your floor yet?”
#12: Dialogue Substitution
Divide students into small groups and provide each group with a set of picture cards or prompts. Students take turns using the present perfect tense to tell a story based on the pictures or prompts. Encourage them to create a coherent narrative using the present perfect tense. This activity enhances speaking skills and promotes creativity and storytelling.
#14: Guessing Game
Prepare a set of present perfect tense sentence cards that describe personal experiences or achievements. One student picks a card and reads the sentence aloud, omitting the past participle verb. Other students take turns guessing the missing word to complete the sentence correctly. This activity reinforces sentence structure and encourages students to think critically about the present perfect tense.
#15: Present Perfect Charades
Write a list of present perfect sentences on small cards, each describing an action or experience. Divide the class into teams. One player from each team acts out the sentence without speaking, while their team tries to guess the action or experience using the present perfect tense.
#16: Present Perfect Snakes and Ladders
Adapt the traditional Snakes and Ladders game to focus on the present perfect tense. Each square on the board contains a sentence or prompt in the present perfect. When students land on a square, they must provide a relevant answer or form a sentence using the present perfect tense to progress through the game.
#17: Present Perfect Guess Who
Create a variation of the classic “Guess Who” game by using present perfect questions. Each student is given a picture or description of a person, and they take turns asking yes/no questions in the present perfect to guess the identity of the person. For example, “Have they ever been to Asia?” or “Have they ever eaten sushi?”
#18: Present Perfect Bingo
Create bingo cards with various experiences or actions in the present perfect tense. The teacher calls out sentences or prompts in the present perfect, and students mark the corresponding squares on their bingo cards. The first student to complete a line or full card shouts “Bingo!”
#19: Present Perfect Role-Play
Divide students into pairs or small groups. Each group is given a scenario or situation. Students take turns having conversations using the present perfect tense to talk about their experiences related to the given scenario. Encourage creativity and provide feedback on the accurate use of the present perfect tense.
#20: Present Perfect Story Chain
Begin a story using the present perfect tense. Each student adds a sentence or two to continue the story, using the present perfect to describe actions or experiences. The story continues around the classroom until it reaches a satisfying conclusion.
Present Perfect Questions
Are you looking for some questions in the present perfect? Then you’re certainly in the right place. If you want to get the discussion and conversation ball rolling, here are a few questions that you could start with:
Ask your students if they’ve seen any of your favorite movies or TV shows.
What sports have you played recently?
Where have you traveled?
What’s the most amazing place you’ve ever been to?
What interesting foods have you eaten in your life?
How long have you studied English?
What’s the longest amount of time you’ve been awake for?
Have you ever…
appeared on TV?
eaten something strange?
fallen down the stairs?
forgotten something quite important?
built a snowman?
been swimming in the ocean?
gotten a bad haircut?
played a practical joke on someone?
worked at a job you hated?
Present Perfect Worksheets
If you’re looking for some worksheets to help your students out with the present perfect, then these activities and games won’t really help you out. Not to worry though—here are some of our favourite sources for grammar practice worksheets:
However, the first place I take a look is the textbook that I’m using for the class. It will often have some excellent practice activities, or you can check out the teacher’s resource book or the homework book.
Present Perfect Online Practice
If you’d like some resources to recommend to your students for online grammar practice, then here are our favourite resources:
There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching this concept. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones.
What are some common time expressions used with the present perfect tense?
Some common time expressions used with the present perfect tense include “just,” “already,” “yet,” “since,” and “for.”
Can the present perfect tense be used to talk about a specific past time?
No, the present perfect tense is not used to talk about a specific past time. It focuses on the connection between the past and the present.
What is the difference between the present perfect and simple past tenses?
The present perfect tense emphasizes the connection between the past and the present, while the simple past tense focuses on past actions that are completed and not connected to the present.
What are some typical mistakes English learners make when using the present perfect tense?
Some common mistakes include the incorrect formation of the present perfect (e.g., using the wrong auxiliary verb or forgetting the past participle) and incorrect use of time expressions.
How can I help English learners understand the concept of the present perfect tense?
You can help by providing clear explanations, using relevant examples, and offering practice activities that highlight the connection between past events and the present.
What are some effective teaching techniques for the present perfect tense?
Some effective techniques include using real-life examples, engaging students in communicative activities, providing error correction and feedback, and offering opportunities for meaningful practice.
Why is it important for English learners to master the present perfect tense?
Mastering the present perfect tense allows learners to express themselves accurately in various contexts, describe experiences, and understand English texts and conversations that use this tense.
Did you Like these ESL Present Perfect Activities?
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 145 Pages - 03/10/2016 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
Yes? Thought so! Then the book you’re going to love is this one over on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. The key to interesting, engaging English classes is a wide variety of games and activities. And this is the book that’ll help you get there.
Do you want to know the best part? The book is well-organized into various sections, including review, speaking, writing, warmers, and more. You should be able to find yourself an awesome ESL activity to use in your classes in just a minute or two. If that’s not some ESL gold, then I’m not sure sure what is.
Does it sound like exactly what you need? You can bring the digital copy with you on your phone or tablet to your favourite coffee shop for some lesson planning on the go. Or, keep the physical copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it as a handy reference guide. Yes, it really is that easy.
Head over to Amazon to pick up a copy today:
Have your Say about these Present Perfect ESL Games and Activities
What did you think about these games and activities to help your students practice the present perfect? Or, do you have another one that you’d like to recommend to us? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API