This is a staple of pre-intermediate EFL grammar lessons, and it’s rather been done to death over the years. However, this is the materials-light/ dogme lesson I use to practice this important and useful grammar point with learners.
It works best in a classroom, but would be equally at home in an online class.
Choose a handful of topics and write them as key words on the board. Examples could be “travel”, “sports/leisure”, “work life” – you can fit the topics around your particular group of learners.
Ask students to brainstorm verb + noun collocations associated with these topics. You can ask questions to prompt them: “What things do you normally do when you go on holiday?”, “What are some unusual hobbies?”, “What can happen to you while you are at work?”.
Hopefully, you will end up with a list of varied verb + noun collocations: get promoted, go sightseeing, go paddleboarding, get fired, climb a mountain, swim in the sea, etc.
Drill the pronunciation of these chunks.
Ask students to choose five of the verb + noun collocations and write a question starting with “Have you ever…” for each of them. Elicit that this needs the past participle of the verb, and that this question is using the present perfect tense.
Have you ever been rock climbing?
Have you ever been promoted?
Have you ever swum in the Mediterranean Sea?
Ask students to share their questions with the class and give feedback as needed. You may find you need to go back over the past participle forms of some verbs.
Next, ask students to consider how these questions should be answered. Elicit that this is a yes/no question, and that the answer you require is “Yes, I have” or “No, I haven’t.”
Ask if the question is asking about something that is happening now, in the future or in the past. Elicit that this is referring to the past, but not to a specific experience – we are focussed on a general experience. You could use a timeline to show this:
The event is in the past, but we don’t know when it happened exactly.
Next, ask students to tell you how they would give more information about the experience. Elicit that they would need to switch in to the past simple.
Have you ever been to Rome?
Yes, I have. I went there last year with my girlfriend.
Focus on the difference between I have been to Rome and I went to Rome – the former is expressing a general experience from the past (which affects the present as it directly answers the question), and the latter is telling a story about something specific in the past (which is now complete).
Students should now try to build short conversations in pairs using their Have you ever questions as prompts. Students should write down these conversations and present them to the class. If you are online, you could put students into breakout rooms to do this, and ask them to use a shared document (Google Docs, for example) to construct their dialogue.
Monitor as students are creating and practising their dialogues, and offer any feedback you feel is appropriate.
Final task: hotseat
To round off the lesson, tell students that they are each going to take it in turns in the “hotseat”. This is where they will be asked one Have you ever question (either from the list, or another that the rest of the class come up with spontaneously), and the student must answer “yes” – whether they really have or not!
The student must then go on and tell the story. The class can ask as many follow-up questions as they like, but give a two-minute time limit. At the end, the rest of the class have to guess whether the student in the hotseat was telling the truth or not.
I hope you liked this lesson plan! Please let me know if you use it, or have any comments, questions and suggestions in the comments below or on social media.