Questions in the Past Tense

Posted on May 6 2017 - 6:44am by Zdenda
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I remember the times in my teaching career when I dreaded teaching questions. I especially hated the questions in the past simple tense. After my explanation, students got confused and they often failed to produce even the most basic questions.

Fortunately, the situation has changed. Nowadays, I look forward to teaching this grammar. I have developed a set of activities which help my students learn the grammar easily and they form the questions correctly and without thinking much about it.


In this post, I would like to share with you the activities which work very well for me and my classes. You will find a great original rap with comprehension questions, and a simple video called Grammar Point, where the grammar is explained and practised. I hope you will find this post useful.

Questions in the past tense – RAP

I start my lesson with the following RAP song. I hand out the following worksheet and I ask my students to answer the questions:

As you can see the worksheet contains five copies of the same worksheet. Print it out and cut it into five pieces. Play the Rap song at least twice and ask the students to write their answers to the questions. Explain that it is enough to write just one word.

Once I check the students’ answers, I always ask my students to rap along and learn the poem by heart. It is not difficult.

To get the pronunciation correct, students can copy the rap or they can follow the recording in American English, which you can hear below:

(Recorded by Christie Baarns. You can order her services at She provides great services.)

Grammar Point

Now it is time to explain the grammar. It is much easier now, as the students know the 12 examples given in the rap. I play the following video for my students:

I stop the video after the explanation and I hand out the following infographic which explains the grammar and I clarify the grammar in students’ MT, if necessary.

Forming questions in the past simple tense

Once, I am sure that the students understand the grammar, I play the rest of the recording. There is a grammar challenge. Students hear a sentence but part of the sentence is difficult to hear. Their task is to ask about the missing information. The video provides 7 seconds for their answers. Then they will hear the correct answer.

Questions in the past tense – Speaking

To practise the grammar, students need to use it in real-life conversation. I love using Clock Speaking. The questions are divided into four sections and there is a time at the head of each section. Tell the students to find a different partner for each time. Then say what time it is and students have to work with the partner they have arranged. They ask the questions and answer them.

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