Introducing Present Perfect – A Lesson Idea

GUEST POST BY JULIA, JENNIFER & KATHARINA (my trainee-teacher students)

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Show a picture of an old colonel and let the pupils describe the picture. colcoco copy(Here is an example picture, from


Get learners to read the text below about “The Old Colonel

a)      Pupils first read the text on their own

b)      Pupils read the text out loudly (together in class)

c)      Pupils underline the verb forms in the text .

d)      Collect answers together in plenary

The Old Colonel
I think I have had a very interesting life. I’m 73 now and I don’t work anymore. I was in the army for 51 years. I retired when I was 69. I have visited so many countries that I can’t remember all of them. I’ve travelled to Australia six or seven times and to South Africa three times. I have also been once to Russia but I didn’t like it at all: much too cold for me!
They say that love is the greatest thing and I agree. I’ve been married four times but never for more than five years. I don’t think women really understand me!
I’ve never been on television, but I’ve been on the radio once. It was a program about life in the military about twenty years ago. I met the Prime Minister on the same day. Actually, I’ve met a lot of famous people: members of the royal family, famous politicians and also famous cinema and television personalities. I’ve never shaken hands with the American President though which is a pity.
Because I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things and have also eaten and I have drunk some strange foods and drinks. I ate cat and rat in India and drank something called Mirto on a little island in Italy many years ago.

Adapted from:


As a class, write the most important points on the board – the following procedure is suggested:

a)      teacher choses two examples and writes them on the board

b)      pupils think about a rule “How to form the Present Perfect

c)      teacher underlines the examples (colors) to help them identify ‘have’ and past participle.

d)     pupils try to explain “When to use the Present Perfect

e)     teacher writes the basic rule on the board (e.g. started in the past and continues to the present)


After this stage, the board should have the following information on it (which the learners can copy down into their notebooks)

Present Perfect

  1. I have had a very interesting life
  2. I have met a lot of famous people

have/ has              +          Past Participle             =         Present Perfect

use: action or time period began in the past and still goes on (not finished)



Learners are given five pictures with two words underneath and have to create appropriate example sentences in the present perfect.

travel / planeplane






eat / burger


swimming   swim / sea

bike    repair / bike

rio visit / Rio de Janeiro

As a further productive task (can also be done as homework), learners can be asked to write 10 sentences about things they have and have never done in their lives.

6 thoughts on “Introducing Present Perfect – A Lesson Idea

  1. It would be a good idea to also introduce the question forms. As it is, the tasks in the activate phase are very repetetive: ” I have never…….” (and both the introductory text and the homework also rely heavily on the first person singular) Then the activate phase could take could take place as pair work.
    Also refer to the simple simple past .(it occurs in the introductory text several times), which would also vary the activate phase nd the homework and emphasize he difference etween the use of the two tenses.


  2. To draw things together at the end of the Study phase, the learners might be asked to draw two columns, the first listing past time markers, eg ‘yesterday’, ‘last week’, ‘last month’, ‘last year’, and the second present time, eg ‘today’, ‘this week’, ‘this month’, ‘this year’. Also write up the adverbs ‘recently’, ‘yet’ and ‘just’, which are also often associated with this tense. I also think that time lines on the board are very effective in enabling learners to visualise the way this tense works.


  3. As with all the other plans, the lesson would be improved by including something making use of listening skills (with authentic material).


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