Past Continuous [Subject + “To be” (in past simple form) + present participle]

Friday, October 18, 2019

This time last year I was just starting a new job, but in a familiar place. In a lot of ways, I was going back to a previous life — going up to my old university, living at home — which I had never expected to do. 

Those are few examples of the past continuous, a tense used to describe events that were in progress at a specific time in the past. My present situation is quite a bit different. While my latest step doesn’t have the benefits included in my move to a communications role within the Simon Fraser University Athletics department (namely, more money and a step up on the career ladder), it has something much more valuable: freedom.

Now, I’m not talking about being able to do whatever I want, when I want. I just finished my first week of training to become a certified English as a Foreign Language instructor and I have been insanely busy and that will only pick up from here. No, it’s the freedom to look at the world without just trying to hustle to a goal.

I’m just learning and accepting that I’m not perfect. I’m not upset to see other classmates succeed because we’re all on the same team. In the teaching world, there’s no upper echelon that I want to reach. I am simply curious about everything and want to do the best that I can.

So far, it’s been a very interesting experience at The Language House in Prague. Another situation in which we use the past continuous is for when there are two events in progress at the same (past) time. So far, I’ve done a lot of multi-tasking. In addition to learning the basics of teaching, we’re immersed in a number of classes and practicing in the field already.

On Thursday, I both experienced being a beginner language learner with a Czech-only lesson on the basics of the Czech language and later instructed an icebreaker with some local A2 level students.

Trying to learn Czech was an eye-opener. I’ve dabbled in other languages in my life and have a pretty good grasp on French thanks to my early Canadian schooling experience, but the speed and sheer volume of vocabulary that we learned… it was intense. It was a lot of fun though as well and really made me appreciate how lost my future students will be at times because I definitely felt completely out of it multiple times.

The icebreaker turned out to be a strange experience as well. The third function of the past continuous tense is to describe ongoing past action interrupted by another event. Well, for my activity, I had planned for 10 or 11 students. When there were only two, I was pretty thrown. My opening activity for the class was to come in talking on a banana as if it were a phone and act like the person on the other end wanted the answers to a series of personal questions from the students

I had to add some more questions on the fly to make up for only having two of them, but I was happy that they were willing to go along with my silly game and that I was able to elicit some English from them. They seemed to have quite a bit of fun pretending the banana was a real phone as well.

Tomorrow is a day off but I’m taking an optional grammar test and if I pass it, I won’t have to worry about it at the end of the course. We also start teaching 45-minute lessons on Monday, which I’m actually sort of excited for. It’ll be a lot of work but it should be worth it for sure (that sentence uses future simple with will [subject + will + bare infinitive] and present simple [subject + present simple form] with the modal verb ‘should’ which adds the mood of advice to the main verb “to be”… okay, I think I’m ready for this test).

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