Past Simple vs. Present Perfect Games and ESL Activities

How well do you know your partner?

ESL Past Simple vs. Present Perfect Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate - 35 minutes

In this fun past simple vs. present perfect activity, students see how well they know a partner by completing sentences about them and then verifying the information by asking and answering questions. The students are divided into pairs and each student is given a copy of the worksheet. Working alone, the students complete sentences about their partner in the past simple or present perfect using the correct form of the verbs in brackets, e.g. James started learning English in 1990. James has had his mobile phone for six months. When the students have completed the sentences, they pair up with another student who isn't their partner to prepare the questions they need to ask to verify the information, e.g. 'When did you start learning English?' 'How long have you had your mobile phone?' When the questions have been prepared, the students go back to their original partner and find out how many of their sentences are right by taking it in turns to ask and answer questions in the past simple and present perfect. Students score themselves one point for each correct sentence. The student with the highest score wins. Afterwards, students give feedback to the class on how well they know their partner.
 

I've done that!

ESL Past Simple vs. Present Perfect Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 minutes

In this engaging past simple vs. present perfect activity, students play a true or false game where they make present perfect statements and ask and answer 'Wh' questions in the past simple. The students are divided into groups of four and each group is given a set of cards. The students shuffle the cards and place them face down in a pile on the table. Students then take it in turns to pick up a card and make a present perfect statement, telling the rest of the group they have done the activity on the card, regardless of whether it's true or not, e.g. 'I have been bungee jumping'. The group members then ask the student 'Wh' questions in the past simple to find out the details, e.g. 'Where did you go bungee jumping?' After the student has answered a few questions, each group member decides if the student is telling the truth or lying. The student then reveals the answer. Each group member who guessed correctly scores a point. Then, the next student picks up a card and so on. The game continues until all the cards have been used. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins. Afterwards, the students tell the class about their group member's experiences using the present perfect and past simple.
 

What have I done?

ESL Past Simple vs. Present Perfect Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Low intermediate - 40 minutes

In this enjoyable teaching activity, students play a true or false guessing game to practice the past simple and present perfect. The students are divided into groups of six. Groups of four or eight are also possible. Each group is given a set of cards, which they shuffle and place face down in a pile on the desk. Next, each group is split into two teams (A and B). Each member of Team A picks up a card from the pile. The cards show something they may or may not have done, but each student in Team A tells Team B they have had the experience, regardless of whether it is true or not. The members of Team A take it in turns to do this by either giving true or made up details using the present perfect to introduce the experience and the past simple to give details, e.g. if a student's card read 'another country you've visited', the student might say: I've been to Australia. I went there with my family in 2014. We saw the Great Barrier Reef and visited Sydney Opera House. After each member of Team A has spoken, Team B asks past simple follow-up questions about the student's experience to see if they can work out whether the student is lying or telling the truth. After questioning all the members of Team A, Team B decides who is telling the truth or lying. Team A then reveals the answers. For each correct guess, Team B scores a point. The cards are then discarded by Team A and it's Team B's turn to play. The game continues until all the cards have been used. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Believe it or not

ESL Past Simple vs. Present Perfect Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Intermediate - 35 minutes

In this amusing past simple vs. present perfect game, students make surprising true or false present perfect statements about themselves and their classmates determine whether they are lying or telling the truth by asking past simple follow-up questions. The students are divided into groups of four. Each group is given a set of sentence cards and true or false cards, which they shuffle and place face down on the table in two piles. One player goes first and picks up a sentence card from one pile and a true or false card from the other, without showing anyone. If the player picks up a true card, they make a true present perfect statement about themselves from the prompt on the sentence card. If the player picks up a false card, the student makes a false statement, but pretends it's true. The other group members then take it in turns to ask past simple follow-up questions to the player to try to determine whether the statement is true or false. After a few questions have been asked, each group member decides if the player's statement is true or false. The player then reveals the answer. Each group member who guessed correctly, scores a point. The sentence card is then discarded and the true or false card is placed back in the pile and shuffled. The turn then passes to the next player. The game continues until all the cards have been used. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 
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