This a controlled writing activity which focuses on using the past continuous verb form to talk about events in the past. Learners write about what they were doing when they heard about an important event, either personal or public.

Paul Kaye

This activity can be used as semi-controlled practice of the target language. There are activities for two levels, elementary to pre-intermediate and intermediate+.


Before the class: Choose an event that was significant for you and your learners. You need to be able to remember what you were doing when you heard about it, e.g. when your child was born, when your team won the World Cup, or when the September 11 attacks occurred. Choose something relevant to your learners' culture.

Download the appropriate worksheet and make copies for each of your students.


  • Explain this event to your learners. Use the following as prompts:
    • a. What the event was
    • b. Where you were
    • c. What you were doing
    • d. How you felt
    • e. What you did after you heard about the event
  • Encourage your learners to ask you more questions also if they are interested in your example.
  • Elicit examples of other events that were important for your learners, either personal or public. Write these on the board.
  • Ask your learners to choose one event to write about.
  • Hand out worksheet 1 (for elementary/pre-intermediate) or worksheet 2 (pre-intermediate+) and ask the learners to write about their experience.
  • Monitor the writing work and guide as you think appropriate.
  • Get students to share their experiences.

Follow-up activities

  • Collect written work and correct in any way appropriate.
  • Correct work and then ask learners to present their work to the class.
  • Correct work with learners, and then ‘publish' group work, e.g. just by photocopying, displaying on walls, on a class blog or website, etc.
  • Ask learners to talk about their experiences in pairs and then report back to the class.
  • Ask learners to develop a questionnaire based on their work, to ask others.
Language level
Language Level: 
Beginner: A1

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