ESL Activity: Have you ever…? (Present Perfect)

It seems like I’m teaching the past perfect every week in at least one of my classes. Since I love to incorporate geography into my lessons it can often be interesting to find out where students have been and also get to talk about my travels with them.

Here are the rules:

Set up:

You can split the students into small teams or do this individually depending on the dynamics of the class. I write a number of categories on the whiteboard such as food, cities, shops, countries, activities etc. Have them list 5 things from each category that they can say they’ve had experience with. Encourage students to choose more unique things such as strange foods or adventurous activities.

The Game:

Once the lists are prepared you can start the game. Have one member of a team ask “Have you ever…?” about something on their paper. It can be whatever they choose.

Student A: “Have you ever been to Singapore?”

Then any student who has been to Singapore can raise their hand. The first one who has their hand up must reply with proper grammar and also add a say something about it to prove they really did it.

Student B: “I have been to Singapore, we went to Marina Bay and saw the Merlion.”

If the student does not reply with a full sentence or can’t provide some follow up detail then they are not awarded a point.

Another example:

Student A: “Have you ever eaten sushi?”
Student B: “I have eaten sushi. I ate it while I was in Japan with my family last year.”

Points are rewarded to both the student answering and asking the question. You can award more points to activities that are more unique or adventurous.

Specific to Indonesian students
If you’ve ever taught Indonesians you will know that they commonly misuse the word “ever.” So this is great practice to fix that problem. In Bahasa Indonesia “ever” is “pernah.”

Example: “Saya pernah ke Singapore” becomes “I’ve ever been to Singapore”

This is a mistake that so many Indonesians make even if they are not students and is just a habit that needs to be broken. I usually start this game out by explaining this grammar point to them with examples on the board. I also tell them that misuse of the word, “ever” will be a penalty of -1 points. It’s a great way to get repetition doing it the right away and the best part is you don’t usually have to point out their mistake as other students will correct each other.

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