Ideas for teaching the Present Perfect Progressive

I have been instructed to do the practice component of a lesson on the Present perfect Progressive.

Within the PPP structure, this is the order:  presentation, practice, production. Presentation refers to the explanation of the grammar point, practice to controlled or guided  exercises, while production activities enable the student to be practice after they have mastered the form in a more communicative manner.

So, I have set out to find the proper materials for an excellent lesson.  As with all lessons, I like to go first to some classic books, and then move on to some websites, then form a tighter plan of the best material.

To understand where my assigned “practice”segment is located, let’s look at it in context.


Scrivener (Teaching English Grammar, p. 172-175) is consistently one of the most useful sources for me. Scrivener first suggests a couple of activities if we are starting from scratch.

He gives us the form in table form suitable for presentation:

I/you/We/They { ‘ve / have { been { working, living, studying, writing, watching }}}

He/She/It {‘s/ has { been { working, living, studying, writing, watching}}}

He first explains the form with a cartoon of a  girlfriend waiting for a boyfriend to arrive on a date.  It is raining and so she has been getting more and more angry: “I have been waiting for twenty minutes in the rain, and he has not arrived”.  I like this example to graphically illustrate the form.  In this exercise he elicits from his class more captions.

Scrivener goes on to elucidate some problems for the the teacher, namely the similarity to the present perfect.  He advises the teacher that present perfect progressive is relatively rare in comparison to present perfect, so it may be important to select highly used verbs such as:

working,living, doing, looking, going, trying, running, taking, waiting, using, talking, saying, thinking, making, getting and looking 

In reference to the present perfect, he points out that although the two tenses can  sometimes be used to speak about similar time frames, that we often think of a present perfect progressive action continuing if it was not interrupted. Compare the two questions Where have you worked in the last two weeks?  Where have you been working lately?  They might have similar answers and be problematic for the students.


Now, moving on to the websites, here are some resources that I looked at.


Songs:  You can compare the differences between present perfect and present perfect with songs.  I like the following two.  As an opening exercise,  I would get the students to listen to the song and circle the appropriate tenses, following along with the music:

U2 “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” (Present Perfect)
I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you.

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her finger tips
It burned like fire
(I was) burning inside her.

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

Rolling Stones “Miss You” (Present Perfect Progressive)

I’ve been holding out so long
I’ve been sleeping all alone
Lord I miss you
I’ve been hanging on the phone
I’ve been sleeping all alone
I want to kiss you

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh

Well, I’ve been haunted in my sleep
You’ve been staring in my dreams
Lord I miss you.
I’ve been waiting in the hall
Been waiting on your call
When the phone rings
It’s just some friends of mine that say,
“Hey, what’s the matter man?
We’re gonna come around at twelve
With some Puerto Rican girls that are just dyin’ to meet you
We’re gonna bring a case of wine
Hey, let’s go mess and fool around
You know, like we used to”

[12″ version:]
You’ve been strung up for her too long,
You know – girls will come and go –
They’re just like streetcars…
I’ve been staying here too long,
Sometimes I feel so

Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah
Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah
Aaah Aaah Aaah Aaah

Oh everybody waits so long
Oh baby why you wait so long
Won’t you come on! Come on!

I’ve been walking Central Park
Singing after dark
People think I’m crazy
I’ve been stumbling on my feet
Shuffling through the street
People ask me, “What’s the matter with you boy?”

Sometimes I want to say to myself
Sometimes I say

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh

Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
I won’t miss you child

I guess I’m lying to myself
It’s just you and no one else
Lord I won’t miss you child
You’ve been blotting out my mind
Fooling on my time
No, I won’t miss you, baby, yeah

1)Here is an example of a practice worksheet for the present perfect progressive:

2)Here is a board game using the tense:

3)my favourite website “Movies to assess grammar goals”is always a great place to start:

4) There is a dice game using the tense:

All of these could be possible exercises that would lead us from practice to production.  However, the most obvious practice exercise is the first worksheet.

Borrowing from the first exercise sheet, I have adapted the questions, so that rather than a fill in the blank form, they are actual questions that can be written on the board or used as warm ups to the class:

Have you been working today?

Have you been eating well recently?

Have you been doing enough exercise?

Has it been snowing?  Has it been raining?

Students can talk about what the appropriate answers are.

Now switching back to the Scrivener (Teaching English Grammar, p. 172-175) and his suggested verbs, we can also form some questions to be done in groups.

working,living, doing, looking, going, trying, running, taking, waiting, using, talking, saying, thinking, making, getting and looking 

The students will divide into groups and take the following exercises that show the form using only thie first three working, living, doing. They can discuss the answers among themselves.


group 1 Your verb is work:

1)Where have you been working?

ex.  I have been working in Starbucks, and at the library.

2)Who have you been working with?

ex. I have been working alone.

3)What have you been working on?

ex.  I have been working on planning some lessons.

4)How have you been working?

ex. I have been working on my computer.

I have been working in my sketchbook.


group 2 your verb is live:

1)Where have you been living?

ex. I have been living in Toronto.

ex.I have been living by the lakeshore.

2)Who have you been living with?

ex. I have been living with my room mate.

3)How long have you been living in this City?

ex.I have been living in this city for four months.

4)How long have you been living in your current house?

ex.I have been living in my current house for one month.


group 3 you verb is do*

Questions that start with doing can be answered in different ways, using new verbs.

1)What have you been doing for the past three hours?

ex.I’ve been doing my homework.

2)What have you been doing this week?

ex.I’ve been going out a lot.

3)How have you been doing?

ex.I’ve been doing well.

I’ve been feeling pretty good.


4)What have you been doing to improve your English?

ex. I have been doing exercises.

I have been reading books.


I think that after this, I would want the students to create their own question forms using Scrivener’s suggested list to ask each other.  I would give them the list, and then I would ask them to choose one verb from the list and write four questions to ask their partner from it.

Then I would go around the room asking how they were doing, and what sort of answers they were getting, monitoring the progress.  If I was left with time, I might go to my spare exercises from the other websites.

This covers most of the material that we need to assemble to start the students practicing. Printing out the material, I now have more than can be fit within an hour of teaching.



5 Things I learned Teaching Abroad


  1. Living and working abroad is hard work, but it isn’t as fearsome as it first appears.   It takes time to accustom yourself, and you miss the social connections you had.  However, eventually you begin to build different connections you would not have had if you hadn’t left home, as well as experiences.
  2. You have to give yourself as much time to answer questions from students as you give them to answer.  Teachers need “processing time” as well as students.  This was part of a teacher evaluation, and I really appreciate the insight.
  3. There can be essential hours of work for teachers outside the class room, and even planning.  Some of the activities can be reporting, marking, and meeting.  Each organization you work for will be distinctly different in terms of these expectations.
  4. Their are really thousands of levels of language proficiency.
  5. Cultures that you assume are close together because of geography or language really have nothing to do with each other.  (“Nada que ver)  The longer you are in the region, the more distinct the constituent people and places seem to become.

Questions to ask an Interviewer

Looking for a TEFL job, and doing an interview?

So, I have returned to Canada, and I am searching for various job opportunities. Now with a couple years of experience teaching under my belt, I am looking both here and abroad. Interviews are beginning, and to come in prepared, I have assembled a list of questions to ask my interviewer, as well as gone back to the best job advice I have read.

So, I would like to share my mental preparation.

Part 1:  TEFL Job search Questions


Is there any important information you want to tell me about processing my visa?


What do you like most about the city that you live in?


What do you like most about the region you live in?


What do you dislike the most about the city or region where you live?


Are there any risks or dangers I should be aware of?


Is there any threat of a specific kind of crime in the area? Are there any dangerous places in the city I should be aware of?


What are the most well known tourist sites of the region?


What are the neighbourhoods like in the city where you live?


In terms of food, what do recommend?


In terms of teaching, are there very slow times of the year?


Where do teachers generally go in their free time in the region?


Are there tourist attractions nearby that I must go see? Natural features? Galleries?


Museums? Historical sites? Seasonal Festivals?


What are the hours like of government offices and banks?


Will it be difficult to get a local account?


Is the currency difficult to exchange?


Will it be difficult to send and receive letters from my home country?


What is the most difficult thing for English speakers like myself when they learn the local language?


What is the most difficult thing for speakers of the local language to learn when learning English?


What is the accommodation like?


If it is necessary to search for accommodation do you have any advice?

Are there any walking tours that would help me to get accustomed to the city?


Are there any websites that would help me understand the layout of the city?


Are there any English resources (newspapers, blogs) that would help me understand the city or region?


Where is your office located, and how would you characterize the neighborhood where I will work?


What is one of the most important attributes that your organization looks for in its teachers?


Are there rewards/ recognition for the teachers? How are the teachers judged in order to receive the performance recognition?


How many people work at your school?


How many of them are teachers?


Do the teachers get together socially?


Do the teachers network, do they share ideas?


Is lesson planning creative and independent, or more regulated by the administration?


Is the management style micro managing or delegating?


Is lesson planning private on the part of the teachers, or is their some kind of database to keep track?


What kind of textbooks do you use?


What kind of testing and evaluation do you use?

How regular is testing and evaluation?


How would you characterize the pace of the lessons?


Is there a lot of time to deal with individual student concerns, or are the lessons always a rush?


What are duties that the teacher must handle, outside of the classroom?


How many hours do teachers tend to prepare there lessons at your institution?


Are there materials in English that I should bring for my lessons that cannot be found in the region? (books, magazines, resources etc.)


Are there any ESL bookstores? Are there any English bookstores? Are English books expensive there?


Do students expect progress in terms of grades on any sort of standardized tests?


How often is student progress reported to the office?


How often is attendance reported?


For the most part what do students use their English for?


Do students go on to further education in English after your program? Do they apply to English Universities?


Do students use English in business settings? Do they mainly speak with internal or external business contacts?


Do you have any advice to ensure success in my job?

Part 2: Advice from the Expert

These notes are made from the job search bible “What Color Is Your Parachute”by Richard N. Bolles, which it almost goes without saying, is well known for good advice on the job search.  Of course, he is not looking at the TEFL context specifically, but most of what he says is relevant in any interview context. This is all from the chapter 7 “Sixteen tips about Interviewing”.  Partially because interviewers have to seem objective and neutral, this can make candidates feel intimidated.  The most important thing that this chapter does is give us a picture of the psychology and anxieties of interviewers.   This helps to diminish the fear that the candidates have.   I think reading through this cheaper is a good way of getting ready.

  1. “An interview resembles dating, more than it does buying a used car (you)” By this I believe that Bolles means that interviewing is about learning if you are a good match for the company, and if they are a good match for you.  He is indicating that it is wrong to think of it as just as a sales pitch.
  2. a.”The next person who comes in here and has done some research on us, I’m going to offer a job”Prepare by researching the organization through their about us section, library articles, and by communicating with any contacts that have worked there. b.”Watch your watch or timepiece like a hawk” Make a good impression by respecting the interviewer’s time, take only 20 minutes .c.”We act as though it were a science” The interviewer may be just as anxious as you are; if the person interviewing you has the power to hire you, they will also be held responsible for the success or failure of the hiring decision.
  3. “But this employer is, after all, a human being just like you” Be compassionate towards your interviewer.  They may have as many fears about the interview as you do.
  4. “Observe the 50-50 rule”  There should be an equal division of speaking and listening during the interview.
  5. “Observe the twenty-second to two-minute rule”.  Twenty seconds to two minutes is a good length for a concise answer to a question in an interview.
  6. It is a good idea to determine how you can be an asset to the organization, by visualizing what would constitute poor performance within it, and strategizing how you will be the opposite sort of employee. Some of the attributes he managed are important regardless of the organization you work for: punctuality, willingness to work extra hours if required, drive, time management, creativity, problem solving, and social skills.  It is up to you to find the information within your CV that exemplifies these attributes.
  7. “Realize that the employer thinks the way you do your job hunt is the way you will do the job.”
  8. Bring a sample of what you have produced.  In the case of a teacher, this might mean bringing a lesson plan.
  9. “Do not badmouth previous employers”.  In fact, you should plan on saying something positive.
  10. He distills the essence of interview questions into the following:  “Why are you here?”, “What can you do for us?”, “What kind of person are you?”, “What distinguishes you from the nine hundred and nineteen other people who are applying for this job?”” Can I afford you?”.  These questions can be prepared for, by visually charting your experience.  He notes that job searchers are trying to determine similar questions, although they are posed in a different form.

11.   Try not to take interview questions about your past too personally.  Questions about the past are intended predict  future performance.  It is worth noting that the rationalization for many  classic questions, is to elicit an assurance of performance that allays some kind of anxiety on the prat of the interviewer.    We can refer to the text to get a more detailed examination of the classic questions and answers.

12.  If the interviewer begins by asking questions about the distant past, and moves more to questions about future goals, this is in fact, a positive thing.  It means the questions are moving beyond the preliminary.

13.  Small things can derail an interview.   Bolles calls these “mosquitos”, in that they are small indicators that shake your employer.   There are several things that you have to represent well in an interview:  astute attention to appearance and hygiene, minimizing nervous mannerisms, displaying confidence and a lack of hesitation  in speech, considerate behaviour towards other people (the receptionist, previous employers),  and good values.

14.What questions might help you in the job interview process

a.Can you offer me the job?

b.When may I expect to hear from you?

c.  May I ask what might be the latest time I could expect to hear from you?

d.May I contact you after the aforementioned date?

(e.If the job is not offered, “can you think of anyone else who might be interested in hiring me?”)

15.A thank you letter from the candidate must be written after every interview.  Functions of this are: to prove social skills, to remind the employer of who you are, to give the interviewer something to pass on if the hiring is a committee process, reiterate your interest in further talks, and give you an opportunity to deal with any problems that arose during your interview.  Most job hunters do not follow this advice.

16.  It is often the case that you have done nothing wrong in an unsuccessful interview, but sometimes it is helpful to get feedback on your interview from the employer, even if you did not get the job.