Absolute Beginner English - the Present of the Verb "to Be"

To be or not to be

Nicole Cormier/Public Domain

When you begin teaching absolute beginners it is important to use gestures, pointing and what is often called "modeling". You can begin teaching subject pronouns and also introduce the verb 'to be' at the same time with this simple exercise.

Part I: I Am + Name

Teacher: Hi, I am Ken. (Point at yourself)

Teacher: Hi, I am Ken. (Repeat stressing each word)

Teacher: (Point to each student and have them repeat 'I am...')

Part II: He, She, Is

Teacher: I am Ken. He (stress 'he') is ... (Point at a student)

Student(s): Paolo (Student(s) give that student's name)

Teacher: I am Ken. (Point at the student again and then circle your finger in the air indicating 'everybody')

Student(s): He is Paolo.

Teacher: I am Ken. She (stress 'she') is ... (Point at a student)

Student(s): She is Illana. (If students make a mistake and say 'he' instead of 'she', point to your ear and repeat the sentence stressing 'she')

Teacher: (Point at different students and repeat a number of times)

Part III: Question With 'Is'

Teacher: I am Ken. Is He Ken? No, He is Paolo. (Use modeling here - ask yourself the questions)

Teacher: Is he Paolo? Yes, He is Paolo.

Teacher: Is He Greg? (Point to various students eliciting a yes or no response)

Student(s): Yes, He is Paolo, No, She is Jennifer, etc.

Teacher: (Point from one student to the next indicating that he/she should ask a question)

Student 1: Is he Greg?

Student 2: No, He is Peter. OR Yes, He is Greg.

Teacher: (Continue around the room)