Page 1 of 1

Past tense frustrations

Posted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:22 pm
by Ballerina
I tutor several elementary grade students from Korea(grades 2-5). They are intermediate/advanced level students and NONE use the past tense when they're writing. On a lucky day, there will be one sentence with a correctly used past tense verb and other days they go on telling their story as if past tense is completely unnecessary. They love to tell their stories (which is great) but all in present tense.

These kids know past tense. We've been doing lots of past tense verbs (regular and irregular). Both in games, reading stories, and worksheet type activities. After I point out their mistakes to them in their written work, they are able to self-correct. But they aren't able to do this alone.

I've done check list type deals where kids have to read their work to check for punctuation and meaning yet the past tense verbs in their eyes just don't exist.

Is this just laziness on their part or is this a time when they're transitioning?

I'm so frustrated. Please help.

Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:33 pm
by Sally Olsen
I would guess transforming. I spent the first year in France using the present tense because I was just learning the words and people understood me. Writing is such a complicated process that you can't always get your ducks in order. Be patient and keep doing fun exercises that show the past - underlining verbs in a children's story, putting verbs in present, past and future tense on a word wall, get the children answering questions about yesterday while you write just the verb they use on the board, playing Simon Says and they can't move on the past verbs and so on.

Get them to write a diary!

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:15 pm
by Bazteach

I used to have the same problem with my students. We have a system with our younger teenagers where they have to write a diary every 2 weeks. What I tend to do is swap the diary entries and just get their partners to underline all the verbs, and check if they are in the past. After a couple of entries the students stop writing in the present tense because they either realise how important it is or get embarrassed. Try that, let me know how it goes.


Worthwhile post, Ballerina! ;)

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:13 am
by longshikong
I looked up the term for this pervasive problem here in Asia and it isn't restricted to the simple past nor to children. In most cases, students are taught the same Interlanguage Fossilization their Korean English teachers were taught. In China, English study material, college entrance, and proficiency exams are actually written in this interlanguage (called Chenglish) rather than English. You can imagine than no professor would risk losing face by asking foreign staff to proof their English prior to publishing.

You can see then that helping students overcome this means getting them to admit that what and how they've been taught is incorrect. I still remember the 4 yr old Korean in Canada who corrected my English pronunciation--by insisting otherwise, I was challenging the authority of his initial English teacher.

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:46 am
by Sally Olsen
My friend did her thesis on this subject although several professors at our university didn't think Fossilization really existed. She taped adult students' conversations and then had them listen for errors. When they found the errors they tended to correct them. If she pointed them out, they usually continued.