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Teaching the expression of time: A concise framework

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  • Costas Gabrielatos
Publication date2004
Host publicationIATEFL 2003: Brighton Conference Selections
EditorsAlan Pulverness
Place of PublicationCanterbury, Kent, UK
Number of pages4
ISBN (print)1-901095-21-5
<mark>Original language</mark>English


ELT materials adopt a system of twelve 'tenses'. Typically, they present three factors as affecting choice of 'tense': event time, event duration and speech time. This is misleading, as many more elements are in play. Their treatment is form-based, giving piecemeal information about the uses of the forms, or providing rules with quite a few exceptions or 'special cases', a practice that tends to confuse learners. This framework is informed by descriptive and theoretical accounts of English. It takes into consideration all the component elements of expressing time in English, including the meaning of verbs and speaker subjectivity. It presents a small number of consistent and flexible guidelines, provides a systematic visual representation of time reference and helps learners put in perspective the information in pedagogical materials.