Teaching Grammar: The Past Continuous
The lesson focuses on grammar in context, with an emphasis on narrative frameworks and some skimming and speaking practice for your students. All of this is practised within the context of learning about one of football's biggest rivalries: Argentina v England.
Find the full lesson plan and all the worksheets you need in the downloads section on the right-hand side of this page.
This lesson is based on the Premier League Skills English Podcast: Understanding Grammar - The Past Continuous. The lesson focuses on grammar in context, with an emphasis on narrative frameworks and some skimming and speaking practice for your students. Understanding narratives are an important real-life skill, which learners of all levels can transfer and use according to their needs in other spheres of their lives. Thematically, this lesson creates a bridge between the past and the present of the World Cup and encourages learners to take an active interest in the history of football, its key moments and, ultimately, the emotion and passion of the game.
Teenagers and adults
45 - 90 minutes
Stages 1-7 should take around 45 minutes but stages 8-10 will take the lesson up to 90 minutes. This could be spread over two lessons.
Print out 3-4 reading texts (1 per group) and individual gapped texts (1 copy per student).
You can find all the materials in the download section on the right-hand side of this page.
Write 1966 on the board. Ask the students to think of 3 ways in which the World Cup in 2018 is different from the World Cup in 1966.
2. Pre-teach keywords
Tell the students they are going to read about an incident that happened during the football game between England and Argentina in 1966.
Pre-teach ‘rule’ (verb) in contrast with ‘rule' (noun).
Ask them to read the text below quickly and discuss one gist question: Which team felt unhappy and why?
The two teams met in the quarter-finals of the 1966 World Cup. England won 1-0 thanks to a goal which Argentina claimed was offside.
It was minute 35 and the Argentinian players were controlling the game when their captain, Antonio Rattin, received a red card. Rattin considered this unfair and refused to leave the pitch. He was still arguing with the referee when the police entered the pitch and took him away. He explained later that his intention was to speak with the German referee on behalf of his team, who felt the referee was ruling in favour of England. The Argentinian coach said the English and the Germans were collaborating to eliminate them from the competition. The next episode took place 20 years later, at the World Cup in 1986, when Diego Maradona scored his famous ‘hand of God’ goal.
4. Vocabulary: Verbs
Remove the full text and tell the students they are now going to focus on the language used in the text.
Give each student the gapped version below. Tell them there is one verb they do not need to use.
Read the text below and decide which verb goes in each gap. There is one verb you do not need to use.
explain collaborate argue receive
control begin win take rule
The two teams met in the quarter-finals of the 1966 World Cup. England (a)__________ 1-0 thanks to a goal which Argentina claimed was offside.
It was minute 35 and the Argentinian players (b) __________ the game when their captain, Antonio Rattin, (c) __________a red card.
Rattin considered this unfair and refused to leave the pitch. He (d) __________ with the referee when the police entered the pitch and ( e) __________him away.
He (f) __________ later that his intention was to speak with the German referee on behalf of his team, who felt the referee (g) __________in favour of England.
The Argentinian coach said the English and the Germans (h) __________ to eliminate them from the competition.
The next episode took place 20 years later, at the World Cup in 1986, when Diego Maradona scored his famous ‘hand of God’ goal.
5. Grammar: Narrative forms
Ask students to look at the verbs in the gaps in pairs. Students discuss and choose the correct verb form for each gap.
6. Focus on form
On the board write:
In 2001, I was studying at university.
Ask students if they know this structure (past continuous). Ask students to tell you how this structure is formed. On the board write:
(was/were) + verb in the-ing form
Tell students that there are two main reasons to use the past continuous:
- to talk about something that continued for a long or continuous period of time in a specific time in the past
- to say what was happening before or when another action happened
Write these examples on the board and ask students to point out the past continuous and why it is being used:
The fans were singing and cheering until late at night.
The man was shouting in the street and wouldn't be quiet.
After the match, the fans were cheering and shouting.
In 2001, I was studying at university.
Write these sentences on the board:
We were walking in the park when it started to rain.
It was raining so we stopped the game and went home.
Ask students why we use the past continuous and past simple in these sentences. One action (past continuous) is interrupted by another action (past simple).
Discuss in pairs or whole class the Argentina and England fans would have felt about the incident.
Divide the students into Argentina and England fans. Appoint one journalist per pair. Ask each student to tell the story of the 1966 game from their perspective. The journalist listens to each side and can ask questions if necessary.
You are an Argentina fan and you think:
- the sending off was a misunderstanding
- Rattin only wanted to speak to the referee
- it was unnecessary to get the police involved
You are an England fan and you think::
- the Argentina captain was cheating
- England were the better team
- the goal wasn't offside
Brainstorm rivalries in football in your country and also other types of rivalries that may exist in music, families or politics.
9. Prepare a roleplay
In pairs or small groups, make notes on one rivalry that you know about. Ask students to prepare two role cards for the roleplay.
Ask students to perform in front of the class and the audience has to say who they agree with most.
Students give their role cards to different groups and students perform multiple roleplays in pairs.
We hope you enjoy the lesson!