I’ve found that when working with ESL students, the most challenging thing for me has been explaining verb tenses. Now, as a bilingual person, I completely understand how confusing English is. That doesn’t mean I have a clue of how to explain the use of the correct tense though even if I used to be a Spanish Teaching Assistant in college. What I use to teach one language, doesn’t always work for trying to teach aspects of another.

For example, I’ve recently been reading papers in which the ESL student struggles to remain in the present tense, or they write in the conditional tense when it should be preterit etc. In these moments, finding a way to clearly explain such a complex language as English tends to escape me. However, I’ve found a great resource which not only helps me think of new ways to explain verb tenses and forms, but also provides a nice clean resource for the student.

Also, a previous Spanish teacher, I tend to revert back to my good old verb tense/form box chart to help explain. This is a little bit of a pain though because it’s something I normally draw on paper and haven’t quite mastered getting it into a word document. It should look something like this though (the empty box is a conditional tense that English almost never uses):

2017-05-04 16-10 page 1

As you can see, I used the verb “to drive” which is incredibly confusing in English since almost all forms of this verb are the same! However, this also helps to show the difference between past tense and present or any other tense (drive vs driven). I just used present tense in this one. Anyways, the link I added and this little chart have always been helpful for me since starting with the VWC. Now I hope it’s helpful for you too!

Katie Williams

Peer Consultant, Antioch Virtual Writing Center