In grammar a Verb Tense is a form of a verb used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place. Here we talk about 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (Some people talk about more than 3, however.)
Compare this with Verb Form which is the form of a verb in a particular tense, e.g. present simple, present continuous, etc.
For more, see Verb Tenses & Forms in English Grammar.
Students learning English are often described as Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced. Roughly speaking this is their level, i.e. how much English they know, how well they can speak and understand and so on.
For more, see Learner Levels in TEFL.
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Simply put, this is usually used to talk about teaching English to people who live in a non-English speaking country and who want to learn English for business or to take an exam, etc.
It is pretty much equivalent to TESOL and TESL.
For more, see TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
Verifying Tags is an activity which gets your TEFL class practising using question tags.
Question Tags are often used to verify information of which we are not 100% certain. For example we might be discussing holidays and ask someone,
“You went to the Seychelles a few years back, didn’t you?”
It’s not a direct question but we are looking for confirmation for what we believe to be true.
This activity puts this kind of question tag in a more realistic situation.
In class, work with your students to prepare a list of some 10 or so basic questions to be asked to each other which you can write up on the board:
- Where were you born?
- What was your father’s name?
- How old are you?
- What was the last film you saw?
- Where will go for the summer holidays?
And so on. Try and mix and match tenses and of course they must be of the right level and content for your class.
Ask them around and make sure everyone understands them.
Now divide the class into two similarly sized teams (e.g. boys vs girls, management vs workers, light hair vs dark hair, etc). Get one team in a circle facing out and the other team in a circle around them facing in. They then pair up and ask and answer the questions with a member of other team. After 60 seconds have them change partners and ask/answer with another member of the other team. Do this till all the questions have been asked and everyone has moved around a lot and talked with several people.
Question Tags in Context
The next step is to bring the class back together and present question tags in context using the questions you prepared earlier.
Where were you born?
You were born in Hanoi, weren’t you?
And so on.
Here you will go over the grammar and work with the students in getting them to understand how question tags are formed and used, not forgetting the intonation!
The Questions in Fact
By now, most of the students will have forgotten the answers they received from the other students to the questions you wrote on the board at the beginning of the lesson.
Divide the class into the two original teams and in turn get a member of one team up to make a statement to a member of the other team based on one of the questions on the board.
If they make a plain statement which is correct, they get 1 point for their team:
Maria, your birthday is on March 20th.
Jo, you were born in Sri Lanka.
If they don’t know, they can make a guess with a question tag:
Maria, your birthday isn’t today, is it?
Jo, you were born in India, weren’t you?
If the question tag is good, but the facts are wrong they get 1 point. If the question tag is good and the facts are true, they get 2 points.
So even if they don’t know the answer they can still score a point if they use a good question tag!