Present Progressive Lesson Plan

As your students start to master the simple tenses, it's time to go on to the progressive tenses. The best place to start is with the present progressive. Once your students are comfortable with the present progressive, learning the past progressive and the future progressive will be much easier.

One really excellent way to teach the progressive tenses is through fun, interesting stories. Our Stories and Exercises to Practice the Progressive Tenses Series is full of complete lesson plans, including homework! The series covers the present, past, and future progressive tenses, and it also includes a dialogue book to practice speaking.

Today, let's look at a possible lesson plan for teaching the present progressive. Remember that we will always be organizing our English classes between introduction, activation, and review. This lesson plan is for a one-hour class.

Present progressive introduction (15 minutes)

In this part of the class, you will be teaching your students how the present progressive tense works. So, you need to explain:

  • Uses
  • Structure

Begin with an example sentence in the simple present that the students already understand.

For example:

  • We study English every week.

Remind your students that the simple present talks about repeated action and habits.

Now write this example on the board:

  • We are studying English right now.

You should explain that we use the present progressive to talk about unfinished actions that are still in progress in the present. Prepare some more good, illustrative examples that are easy for your students to understand.

Start with things that are happening in the room right now.

  • Maria is writing in her notebook.
  • The teacher is explaining the grammar.
  • We are listening.
  • Joe is asking a question.

And so forth. Now ask the students to concentrate on the structure.

Explain that the present progressive is formed by the verb to be in the present simple plus the -ing form of the verb. Point out this grammar in all the examples that you have written on the board.

Now, have your students help you make some more examples. Ask them for verbs and help them create grammatically correct sentences. This is a good way to check their understanding.

Note: Of course you will need to teach your students how to make negative sentences and questions, but it is important for them to learn new information step by step. Use this same structure to teach the negative and question forms in your next classes.

Activation (35 minutes)

Now it's time for your students to actively use the new skills you've taught them. We'll plan two activities to keep the class fun and interesting.

Your first activity can be a quiet one that involves reading and writing. Spend about 15-20 minutes working with a present progressive story. Have the students take turns reading out loud. Underline the examples and answer the questions together.

Now, spend another 15-20 minutes playing charades. This is a great activity because it gets your students up and moving around the room as they practice the new grammar. 

  1. Divide the class into two equal groups. If you are with one student, simply take turns acting.
  2. You will create actions ahead of time (running, sleeping, playing the guitar, etc.)
  3. Have the students take turns acting. The first team to correctly guess what they are doing gets a point.
  4. The teams must make a complete, grammatically correct sentence to get a point ("She is running!")
  5. At the end, the team with the most points wins.

Competitions that involve movement make the class really fun and interesting for your students while they work with the new grammar.

Review (5 minutes)

Now you're about to finish a great class! Congratulate your students on all their hard work and have them return to their seats after the charades game.

Ask them to explain in their own words how we use the present progressive tense. Ask them to give you some examples. They will have lots of them after all the practice you did!

In your next classes, you will go over some other uses of the present progressive (temporary changes in habits, complaining that someone does something too much) and questions and negatives. But be sure to begin your next class with a review of what you did today. The more your students review, the more they will remember!