Learn these 84 irregular verbs for Monday

If you were a 13-year-old kid, you might leave a rucksack full of irregular verbs on the Metro…!

My son Toni (13), who has English only as his third language, brought home a list of 84 irregular pasts and past participles that he had to learn by Monday.

"Ok, take this piece of paper away, and write me a story using some of them," I said.

"No, not like that — just say 'eat', and I'll say 'ate, eaten' like at school," he said. "Test me!"

Is that any way to learn a language…? Is it fun, to begin with…?

Eventually (he didn't get to watch the football, otherwise ,-), he did write a (true) story…

Last Friday I had left my bag in the Metro. I didn't realised until I had gone in the school. I thought that it was to late but still I ran to catch my dad. When I caught him I told him what had happened.

I went back to school hitting my head for being so stupid. I thought I would have to hold and hear all the nonsense of my mum about how much it cost and bla, bla, bla.

And on for another 18 lines, at the end of which Toni concluded "I had learnt a lesson"… and had enjoyed doing something with his irregular verbs.

Being a thirteen-year-old kid, Toni went for the easiest line of resistance. To combat that, the following rules got added in to the "activity":

  • When you've finished one story, start another (up to three)
  • All of the stories have to be coherent as stories, though not necessarily true
  • Each story has to include some examples of the past perfect (otherwise we just got the past simple; including both involves thinking about and deciding when the former is required)
  • 50 words minimum, no max.
  • Only one of the stories can be about football!

What's all this got to do with technology?
You could obviously use the idea without ever going near a computer (you might consider pinning the stories on the wall, so that everyone can read them…)

But if you had a class blog (one on which all of your students can write posts), I'd suggest writing the stories there would make a great project…

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  1. One of my all time favourite activities, I think.

    Looking back at this one, I'd say definitely have the learners share their stories via a blog, or Edmodo or something similar.

    Having the learners award "prizes" for the best, most original, etc., story is one way to ensure that (a) they read each other's stories and (b) comment on them — and you want them to do both those things to get the most out of using technology.

  2. All of this assumes that students do homework.

  3. Yes indeed, Michael, but what English language teacher hasn't set this particular piece of "homework" — the rote learning of the irregular verbs, that is.

    The "stories" version might also be done in class — assuming you have tablets or smart phones available, and with those I'd suggest that 1 device between 2 or 3 learners is sufficient.

    The very word "homework" is however one I now avoid like the plague and suggest that "Can you post that before Tuesday?" is a sexier way to put it.

    Yes, not everyone will do it, but did they all rote learn their lists of irregulars?

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