Teaching Tenses- Ideas for presenting and practising tenses in English Aitken Rosemary review

Aitken Rosemary Teaching Tenses: Ideas for presenting and practising tenses in English with photocopiable materials & activities (ELB Publishing, 2002)

In Teaching Tenses, Rosemary Aitken has produced a clear and concise guide to the structure and use of tenses in the English language. While, as the author acknowledges, the work does not cover the use of tenses in all their permutations, it will, nonetheless, be sufficient for all but the most studious of grammarians.

The book was primarily written for English teaching professionals, specifically those involved in TESOL instruction, including both native and non-native speakers. Advance students would, however, also benefit enormously from having Teaching Tenses as a reference work, thanks to its clarity and depth.


The work is divided into present, past and future. Each chapter begins with a clear presentation of the structure of the tense and this is followed by some very useful examples of questions to draw the target language. Aitken then provides a section entitled
Notes, in which points of grammar and pronunciation are addressed. The author then gives a review of the meaning and function of each tense and a list of suggested contexts. At the conclusion of each chapter, Aitken has, very helpfully, highlighted some of the main sources of learner error, which should help teachers to understand how and why their students are going wrong.

In addition to providing an excellent guide to tenses, Teaching Tenses also looks at conditional forms. The layout of these sections mirrors that of the earlier chapters. The detail given would most certainly suffice the vast majority of teachers. There is, furthermore, an analysis of passive forms and modals.


The one criticism that could be levelled at this work is the lack of consolidation exercises that are available for the teacher to use in class. With the wealth of worksheets and practice exercises that are available online, however, this shortcoming is not overly significant.

Overall, Teaching Tenses is a well-laid out, thoughtful and, above all, intelligible guide to tenses, which teachers would certainly benefit from having in their arsenal.

Review written by Aric Denfield 


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