27 March, 2012

Monday Workshops L2, L3, MAG

Yesterday in class, I had groups 4A, 6, and 3B.

In groups 4a and 6, we listened to an episode "What Kind of Country" from NPR (National Public Radio - US) This American Life, discussing taxation in the United States. I gave a brief overview of the political beliefs of the right, or Republicans/Conservatives in the US as well as the Left/Democrats. I explained the differences between a Full Time (FT) and Part Time (PT) job. Even a Full Time job in the US does not entitle you to healthcare. Of the 55% of Americans who have health care, (which is the equivalent of l'assurance maladie and securité sociale, social security in the US in the money that seniors receive from the government when they are over 65 and retired), most Americans receive health care through their employers. The employer has a group healthcare plan for all their employees, and the employees pay for it through a portion (usually 10% of their salaries). Obama is trying to enact universal healthcare, but has not yet succeeded against the Republicans in our Senate.

In group 3B, I gave a basic grammar review on the difference uses between different past tenses in English. We have 3 basic kinds, which are the past simple, past continuous, and the use of past participle. The use of "to have" does not construct the past tense but the present-perfect, which most resembles the French past tense. The sentence construction, subject + "has" or "have" is NOT used the same as French past tense, causing many ESL French students to use "have" when they don't need to. There is a good explanation of this here. And even more, there is a large amount of verbs in the past tense that are irregular, and it's hard for students to learn and remember each one. We then used this information to tell stories of problems while traveling and corrected the stories together.

Simple Past
There are two principal past tenses used to make general statements about the past: The past simple and the past continuous. The two tenses are quite different. Use the past simple to talk about an event which happened at some point in time in the past.

Tom flew to Chicago last week.
Peter visited his friends in Florida two months ago.

Past Continuous
The past continuous is usually used to refer to events happening at the same time that something important happened in the past.

They were doing their homework when she arrived.
Jack was studying while Dave was cooking dinner..

The past continuous is also used to express what was happening at a precise moment in the past.
I was attending a lecture at 2.30 yesterday afternoon.
Alice was reading a book at six yesterday evening.

Past Simple Structure:
Subject + Verb + ed OR Irregular Past Form + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> played golf yesterday afternoon.I, You, He, She, We, They -> went lunch at noon.

Subject + did not (didn't) + Verb + Objects
I, You, He, She, We, They -> didn't go on vacation last summer.
Subject + did not (doesn't) + Verb + Objects

(Why, What, etc.) + did + Subject + Verb + Objects?
Did -> I, you, we, they -> attend the meeting last week?

Past Continuous Structure:
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + verb + -ing.
I was, You were, He was, She was, We were, You were, They were -> watching TV when I arrived.
Subject + conjugate the helping verb "be" + not + verb + -ing.
I wasn't, You weren't, He wasn't, She wasn't, We wasn't, You wasn't, They wasn't -> working when he came into the room.
Question word + conjugate the helping verb 'be' + subject + verb + -ing
What -> were you, they -> doing at seven o'clock?What -> was I, he, she -> doing at seven o'clock?

Study the Past Simple and Past Continuous in Depth:
Here are detailed guides to the past simple and the past continuous tenses.
Each guide provides situations, common time expressions used with the tense, as well as examples.
These guides were prepared especially for beginners and include dialogues and a short quiz.
Past simple with the verb "to be" for beginnersPast simple with regular and irregular verbs for beginners
It's also important to know your irregular past simple forms which are included in this list of the most important irregular past simple and past participle verb forms

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