Present perfect game

I’m on good form! It’s been a fun weekend of classes.

Today I tried out a new task for practising the present perfect (life experiences). Well, it wasn’t exactly new, just a variation on a few well-known tasks. Still, it worked well – lots of practice and lots of smiles!


  • Put a few topics on the board:

Travel, sport, studying English, animals, food

  • Elicit a few verbs (past participle form) related to each topic:

Travel: been, seen, travelled…

Studying English: studied, passed…

Animals: owned, fed…


These will help students with ideas.

  • Give students 5 slips of card each. They write one sentence on each card (one for each of the topics). The sentence should be about their life experiences. Rules are…
  1. The sentences must be true (that narrows things down a bit!)
  2. They can’t be too easy to guess
  3. You must keep your sentences a secret

Easy to guess for Thai students: I’ve been to Chiang Mai (most of the students have)

Harder to guess: I’ve walked along the Great Wall of China (quite specific)


  • Students work in teams of 3 (depends on numbers). The aim of the game is to guess other students’ sentences.
  • They mingle and asked questions to students on other teams using ‘Have you ever…?’, e.g.

‘Have you ever been to Chiang Mai?’

‘Have you eaten crocodile?’


  • Students answer naturally, but if their opponent asks a question that matches one of their 5 statements then they must give their opponent the corresponding card.

Card: I’ve seen a match the Emirates Stadium

Question: Have you ever seen a match at/been to the Emirates Stadium?

  • When a student wins a card they add it to a pile on their team’s desk.
  • End the game after 10 minutes or so. If students still have cards left then they can add these to their team’s pile. Teams then count their cards. The team with the most cards wins.

Pros – What worked well?

  • Students are familiar with typical tasks to practise this structure (e.g. find someone who, two truths and a lie). This game was something new – they had to follow the instructions carefully so they were engaged throughout
  • There was a lot more practice of the target structure than usual – the chance to accumulate a fair few points for good guesses was motivational!
  • The game rewards creativity – the more creative your ideas the harder they might be to guess.
  • It encouraged teamwork
  • You end up with about 60 slips of card with present perfect sentences on them – perfect for a miming game, review, correction, etc.


One student did well to guess this…


  • There’s no room for follow-up questions, like with ‘find someone who’ when you ask students to find out more information.

A: Have you been to Chiang Mai?

B: Yes, I have

A: Cool… When?

Still, there’s a lot of target language practice.

Anyway, another one for the toolkit. Looking forward to planning for next weekend!

Feature image: creativity by Becris from the Noun Project

Categories: grammar, Lesson Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Hi Peter,

    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be putting up a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish Facebook page, if you’d like to check there for comments.


    Liked by 1 person


  1. Lesson idea: present perfect time markers | ELT planning

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