Making ESL Lessons on Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Fun for Teachers and Students

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A Brief Introduction

“Tomorrow I went to school and studied English,” said your student Scott. No, no you don’t want to say that! Now you have a headache. You may be asking yourself just how to teach the English words of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Rather than monotonously explaining the concept in lecture form, why don’t you get the students involved! Get them moving. ESL teachers should use games and activities to teach the concept. ESL exercises to teach yesterday, today and tomorrow are highly effective and will help your kids learn more freely and happily. Learn these good games for the ESL class and come equipped to your next lesson.

Seven Days of the Week

The seven days of the week ESL exercise not only teaches how to say all the days of the week, it also helps young ESL learners understand the concept of yesterday, today and tomorrow. It can also be a good time to teach the basics of the past tense to young ESL students. To make it more fun, create posters with drawings. If you are like me and can’t draw, keep it simple with stick figure drawings. Make the pictures funny too! It will keep the interest of the students. For your characters, use the names of students in your class. This will keep students more involved.

For example, for the Monday poster, have students “Alice” and “Daisy” pictured eating noodles. On Sunday, you can ask the two students this question: “What will you do tomorrow?” They should answer: “Tomorrow, we will eat noodles.” Be sure they understand how to connect “tomorrow” with “will”. Then on Monday, you can ask them this: “what are you doing today?” And on Tuesday you can ask them this: “What did you do yesterday?”

This ESL vocabulary game for yesterday, today and tomorrow is suitable for all levels. Higher levels can use this to work on learning more complex grammar patterns as well. Be sure younger students know the days of the week first. If they know the days of the week, understanding yesterday, today and tomorrow should not be difficult.

Sing a Song

Think of your days in preschool or primary school. Think about all those crazy cool songs you chanted over and over again. Why did we have to do this? This is because singing songs is a great way to learn a language. There are tons of ESL songs at your disposal. And these include ones about learning yesterday, today and tomorrow. Write one if you don’t find one suitable for you. This song best suits elementary level students aged three to eight.

One song worth checking out is Ron Brown’s “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”. Get your kids up and dancing and singing! They will learn the meanings of the words without even realizing it.

Calendar Worksheet Fun

You can make your own calendar worksheet, purchase one online or download one for free via ESL sharing websites. It is quite easy to make your own one though.

Be sure your students are familiar with the students of the days of the week before assigning this ESL worksheet. There are different ways to do this for younger and older, more advanced students. For younger students, focus on color coding the targeted vocab. Have them mark yesterday as yellow, today as blue and tomorrow as red. Give each student a calendar and ask them simple questions. For example, you can ask the following: “Today is Tuesday the 10th. What day was yesterday? What day is tomorrow?” The young ESL learners should then proceed to mark Monday the 9th with yellow, Tuesday the 10th with blue and Wednesday the 11th as red. Have them learn phrases like “Yesterday was…”, “Today is…” and “Tomorrow will be…”

For older and more advanced ESL students, create a scheduled calendar that lists the daily activities of a person. Have them answer questions by writing in answers to the questions or by verbally answering the questions. Try and trick them by asking difficult and word teasing questions that use phrases like “a week from tomorrow” or “a day before yesterday”.

Act Out a Story

This game is very effective at teaching young learners the vocabulary for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Older and higher level students can make up a story themselves and perform the actions. For example, divide the class into groups of three and have them spend a few minutes writing a story. Make sure they make a cohesive story so that they understand that yesterday was before, today is now and tomorrow is the future. The following story could work for students who are ten years old or so: “Yesterday Bobby went to a car store and bought a new truck. Today he listens to music and drives his truck. Tomorrow he will sell his truck”. Although this story is a little silly, the class will see the chain of events when acted out and understand the vocab involved. For younger students, you can just write the story for them and have them act it out to the class. Let them be goofy! You learn better by having fun.