When I needed new material to work on in the past tense with my EFL, English as a Foreign Language, students in Barcelona, ​​Spain, I opted to create a short story. This three-paragraph narrative that I wrote using only the past tense of regular verbs served not only for reading, but also for practicing grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. For even more diversity and mileage, I later added comprehension questions and a verb chart for additional practice activities.

It has worked quite well for me. To accommodate shorter practice time or other lesson planning restrictions, use only one paragraph for your activities and practice. It was considerably more difficult than I had imagined to write a highly focused, structured piece, but it continually serves to help students, even in its “artificial” language form. Writing it also flexed my creative writing muscles. This is the narrative text:


It happened to be our anniversary when we traveled to Barcelona so my wife Doris and I planned a special evening. I bought a beautiful bouquet of red roses that smelled wonderful and a necklace of black pearls that sparkled in the moonlight. I smiled when I introduced them to Doris. She placed a rose on her sequin tag. Her auburn hair shone with the bronze glow of the setting sun. I called a registered taxi and we passed many highlights before arriving in front of the restaurant. The waiter seated us as soon as we entered the restaurant with neon signs. I noticed a secluded table. (22 verbs)

We stand near an open window and prepare to eat. My wife Doris looked at the selections listed on the menu and decided to have an appetizer. I chose the mushroom soup. A few minutes later the waiter returned. “What would you like to have?” he asked. Doris ordered steamed prawns and grilled trout. I ordered a caesar salad with a grilled steak and a baked potato. While we ate dinner, we chatted and had a glass of white wine. Doris devoured her food but I savored the food and chewed my steak slowly. When she finished, she ate some pretzels. She soon gobbled up all the pretzels in the small bowl placed on the table. Later, we nibbled on a slice of decorated cheesecake as we talked. I wanted some coffee with my dessert. Doris preferred to drink iced tea. After the salty pretzels, Ella Doris needed to drink some water. The waiter finally handed me the bill and I offered him a tip. We tipped him 15% of the total charges. He thanked us and smiled as we left the restaurant. (40 verbs)

Outside the now-closed restaurant, we wandered down the cobblestone street, stopping and laughing when we saw a trained puppy jumping and playing with his owner. We then relaxed and watched the sunset from a cushioned park bench as the boats in the harbor bobbed, pitched, and swayed on the water. Next, we saw a romantic movie in a new cinema that interested us. The elderly couple in the film bickered and chased each other as they navigated a nameless river that tumbled and hurtled through rapids that boiled around jagged rocks. They were often trapped and scared. When the colored film ended, the two discovered that they really loved each other. Finally, at the disco, we danced, swayed to the music and hugged each other often. Every time he kissed Doris, she blushed and laughed. We both enjoyed our enchanted evening together. We hope you liked our story. (41 verbs)

Try using this narrative text, in the past tense of regular verbs, in whole or in part to help your EFL or ESL students, English as a Second Language, with this very important grammatical context. You can bold or underline specific verb forms or delete them to create a “fill in the blanks exercise”. Add additional reading, writing, or pronunciation-based activities to get even more utility out of this narrative. better than mine.

If you haven’t read “Six Quick Tricks for Learning a Language”, or another article titled “Learning a Language: 6 Effective Ways to Use the Internet”, email me a request at: [email protected] com and I’ll email you a copy.


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