Are we there yet?
Have you already finished? Yet and already are words that can be confusing to ESL students, and it’s worth spending some class time practicing them. Already refers to events in the near past while yet is used to check if something has happened as of the present moment. While used similarly in questions, they are different when used in answers. Since both words refer to events near the “now”, you might want to clarify with your students exactly how to use them before you begin. Once you do, however, here are some activities you can do with your class to help them get these little words straight.
7 Classroom Activities with Yet and Already for ESL Students
Putting the Pieces Together
In this activity, you will need one pair of matching puzzles for each student in your class. You can purchase blank puzzles in your local craft store, which work well for this activity. These puzzles are perfect because they have fewer pieces and are inexpensive. First, prepare your puzzles. Give each pair of students two puzzles and two matching pictures. Students should paste these pictures on the puzzles and then separate the pieces. Now you are ready to play. Have students sit facing each other and place a large book or other barrier between them so they can’t see one another’s tables. Then choose one person to partially build their puzzle. Once that person stops, the other player starts putting together his puzzle. He asks questions using yet and already to determine just which pieces his partner has put together. (E.g. Have you finished the edges yet? Have you already put the face together?) When the second person thinks he has build the partial puzzle just like his partner, have students remove the barrier and see how closely their puzzles match. You can then have students switch roles.
Stack ‘Em Up
You can also do the previous activity with Lego building blocks rather than puzzles if you happen to have a collection in class. Again, have students sit facing each other with a barrier between them. Give them each the same picture of a Lego construction. (You can draw this or build a construction yourself and take a picture of it.) One person builds the construction part way. Then the other person asks questions to determine how far along in the process the first person got before she stopped. When the second player thinks his blocks match those of his partner, have students check to see how close they got.
The Best Vacation Ever
If you are doing a unit on travel, it’s the perfect time for this activity for practicing yet and already. Have each student choose a dream vacation location, and then ask them to list ten things they might do while on that vacation. The put your students in groups of two to four. Students take turns asking their group members about what they have already done and what they haven’t done yet on their vacations. If you like, you can have students keep their destination secret and see if their group can guess the place each person chose.
Nothing in Common
What have some of your students already done today? What haven’t they done yet? Divide your class into pairs and have them ask questions about what they have and haven’t already done today. Each person’s goal is to find things that they have already done today that their partner has not done yet today. For everything that one person has done and the other person hasn’t, the person who asked the question scores one point. Have students take turns asking questions. When time is up, the person with the most points wins.
Where in History Are You?
If your students have some knowledge of historical events, they will like this game that involves time travel (fictional, of course). Have one person in class choose a year they would like to visit if they had a time machine. The time can be in the past or the future. Members of the class then take turns asking questions to determine which year that person chose. They can ask questions about historical events such as, “Has North American been discovered yet?” When one person is able to guess the correct year, she takes a turn choosing her own time travel destination and having the class guess.
Sometime This Year
Your students don’t have to time travel to talk about the past and future. This activity will get them using yet and already to determine a specific day of the year, and it’s the perfect tie in to a unit on holidays as well. Put your class in pairs and have one person choose a day of the year. His partner then asks questions about holidays and events throughout the year to determine which day his partner has chosen. Questions might include the following: Have students started their summer vacation yet? Has St. Patrick’s Day already passed? When someone is able to guess his partner’s date within seven days, have the other person choose a place on the calendar and switch roles.
What’s on Your Bucket List?
Have your students ever made a bucket list? A list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket? If not, take some time out to brainstorm the things in life that each person wants to accomplish. Then put your students in smaller groups to talk about what they have and haven’t done, things both on their list and on their classmates’ lists. What have some people done already that some haven’t done yet? What are the items each person wants to have already done five years from now? Ten years from now?
What are your favorite activities for practicing the use of yet and already in class?