Tag Archives: used to

Revising Simple Past,Used to and Would with some Engaging Activities

This lesson has been designed as a next-day revision activity for B2 (Intermediate +) students.

Aim: to consolidate the use of Past Simple, Used to and Would for past habits and routines.

Level: B2 (Intermediate+)

In this lesson you will find.

  • Grammar and exercises
  • Speaking: Picture discussion in pairs
  • Speaking: an advert from a popular drink comparing past and present
  • Writing: a fun writing game
  • Speaking: bits of your childhood

STEP 1. Grammar.

The use of these three verb forms to express past habits and routines can be a bit confusing for students, so in this class I am aiming at some revision to clarify concepts. Assuming students have already studied formation rules, the focus is now on use.

PDF with exercises here.

STEP 2.Picture description. Speaking.

Display the picture of a family in the past and ask students, in pairs, to discuss the differences they can see and the differences they can guess exist between the family shown in the picture and their own family.  Encourage students to use the targeted grammar.

Get feedback

STEP3. The video. Speaking.

  • Tell students they are going to watch a video. Explain there will be no comprehension questions as there is no dialogue.
  • Ask students to give you a brief description of what they have seen.
  • Explain that the advert is called “Grandpa” and it tries to show that the lifestyle enjoyed by our grandparents — moving more, eating well, taking it easy — can be beneficial.
  • Students will see the video twice more and  their task is to write down any differences they can see between the man today and his grandfather.
  • Once students have completed this task, ask them to work in pairs commenting on the differences they have seen in the video encouraging them,once again,to use the targeted grammar point: the use of simple past, would and used to to talk about past habits and routines.
  • Encourage discussion of the following points
  1. healthy eating
  2. stress
  3. working conditions
  4. means of transport
  5. relationships
  6. habits

STEP 4. Writing game: I have retired

Target language: Used To, Would and Simple Past Tense to describe past habits, states and routines

Preparation: none

Procedure:

Set the context: tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and retired. They are happier in retirement than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Students, in pairs or in threes, choose the job they used to have.

Students will need to produce four sentences using the targeted language, giving clues for the other groups to guess their job.

  • sentences can be positive or negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important, at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly. Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points, if it is not, the second clue will be read for three points.

Example

  • 4 points. I would work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I worked after “work”, mainly at home.
  • 2 points. I used my voice a lot
  • 1 point. I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

STEP 5. Bits of your childhood. Speaking in small groups.

Ask students to think about their life at the age of 10.

Give students a list of things they might want to talk about.

Ask students to think about what they will say and the language they will need. Allow some minutes for preparation.

  • Where did you use to live?
  • Did your life use to be very different to how it is now?
  • Where did you use to go to school? Do you remember any of your teachers? Did you have any favourite teachers?
  • Did you use to get good marks? Did you have a favourite subject?
  • What did you use to do after school?
  • Where did you use to play? Do you remember who your friends were? Did you have a best friend?
  • Can you remember your favourite game?
  • At lunchtime, did you use to like the food? Did you use to eat with your parents?
  • What was your greatest wish? Can you remember?

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Used TO: Introducing Used to ,a Nice Short Writing Game and a Beautiful Song.

After almost eight years posting ( I had another blog before this one) I have to say that I am absolutely convinced that if it were not for my blog ,I wouldn’t be able to find and remember half the activities that I do in my class. Don’t misunderstand me !!! I’m not implying by any means that I’m sort of disorganised or forgetful; a teacher should never fall into this category ,but the truth is that this blog has helped me tons to  have all my stuff organised . That must have been the reason that prompted me to start writing… but to be honest, I cannot remember ! :).

Two activities that I did yesterday with my students and that I don’t want to forget are

1. A small warm-up to introduce Used To

2. A  fun nice short writing game that requires no preparation

1. Introducing Used To. The picture below shows what I wrote on the whiteboard. I made sure I gave examples of past actions -in the diagram the font is in black- and past states -in blue. (Remember : We use ‘used to’ for something that happened regularly in the past but no longer happens or for something  that was true but  no longer is).

At this stage , a good performance makes all the difference.

Students pay more attention when you dramatise or introduce the idea in a nice way. Let’s see two examples. Which do you think wil make the student pay more attention?

1. OK, Today, I am going to explain Used to, It is used to…. and here are some examples…. Do you understand?Any questions?

2. Ok, folks !! That’s me 10 years ago!! Look at my  hair now!! What colour is it? Do you think it suits me?? Thanks so much !! You’re so sweet! Now I have fair hair but 10 years ago, I used to have dark hair.  What about you? Has anybody changed their hairstyle?? Yes, teacher , I had dark hair too and now I have  red hair!! Ok ! María , so in English you can say ! I used to have dark hair but now  my hair is red.

The second option works much better, trust me on this one!

2. WRITING GAME: I HAVE RETIRED

Target language : Used To to describe past habits or states , contrasted with the  present

Preparation: none

Level :B1/B2

Time: about 15 minutes

Procedure:

Setting  the context. Tell students they have to imagine they are 70 and they are retired . They  are happier in retirement  than when they were working but there are some things that they still miss.

Step 1. Students in pairs or in threes choose the job they used to have.

Step 2. Students will need to produce  four sentences using Used To ,giving clues for the other groups to guess their job .

  • All the sentences must contain ” Used to” in the positive or the negative
  • the first sentence will contain the clue most difficult to guess
  • the last sentence will contain the easiest clue
  • The first sentence will be awarded 4 points and the last one 1 point

Step 3. Each group will name a spokesperson who will read out the clues. It’s important ,at this stage, to ask students to speak up and clearly . Some rules:

  • The spokesperson will read the first sentence and the other groups will raise a hand if they think they know the answer.
  • Only one guess is allowed for each clue
  • If the answer is correct, they will be awarded the four points , if it is not ,the second clue will be read for three points.

Example

  • 4 points . I used to work with a lot of people
  • 3 points. I used to work after “work”
  • 2 points. I used to use my voice a lot
  • 1 point . I used to work with children

How many clues did you need to hear??  Yes, the answer is TEACHER

3. LEARNING WITH SONGS. Is there a best way to learn?

This is a beautiful song by the Newcastle songwriter James Morrison and it is called Once When I was Little . I used some time ago to talk about Childhood Memories and to revise Used To.  I hope you like it. I love it!

Click here to see how I worked with the song