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English Auxiliaries are ESSENTIAL, NICE, and ORDERLY. Keep them simple and in good company! Part 3

English Auxiliaries are ESSENTIAL, NICE, and ORDERLY. Keep them simple and in good company! Part 3

 So…how can we make it nice and simple for our students? 

Make it visually attractive: Charts, tables & Colours
HELP- AND ALWAYS connect them to the other parts of the sentence!

For instance, for the lower levels:



Question Word(s) Auxiliary 1 Subject:


Lexical  (V-



What is your name =auxiliary 1 ————?
How old/ tall are you =auxiliary 1 ———– ?
What is the weather =auxiliary 1 like in Florida in winter?
What languages can you/he/she speak ——         ?
How often does it rain in equatorial climates?
How many brothers & sisters do


you have


How long will it take to reverse global warming?
What must all nations do to mitigate its impact?
When did you go to New Zealand?
What are you doING tonight?
What :subject!!! is = changING ———-?
How has climate change affectED humans?
—- are they comING with us?

And their possible answers:

Lexical (V
Answer to Question word Rest:
My name is =auxiliary 1 Paloma/Victor/Sue/etc —–
I am =auxiliary 1 twelve years old/
about 1.5 m/56.4“ tall
it is =auxiliary 1 warm and sunny but windy —–
I can speak English and Spanish
It —— rains a lot, mainly in the rainy season
I —— have one brother and two sisters
It will take several decades to reverse
global warming
All nations must work together  (work together) to mitigate its
We —– went there last summer/ in 2019, etc. ———–
I am staying at home
Nothing much
The climate is (changing) ——– ———-
it has affected humans  in different ways ———–
Yes, they
No, they

The idea is that we build a table with sample structures of the contents we are covering during the academic year, both for questions and their corresponding answers

Remember that verbs and verb patterns never occur in isolation but are part of those sentence structures.

Do not forget to focus on and practise stress, rhythm, and intonation patterns for the structures!

The tables can be displayed either on the classroom wall, in the virtual classroom, or anywhere visible and accessible to students.

Different students or groups might be in charge of updating the table, under teacher supervision.

The tables can be expanded as you progress with the sentence structures covered in the course:

Question Word Auxiliary 1 Subject:


Auxiliary 2 Auxiliary 3 Lexical 




What have you been doING lately?
Where can I have left my keys?
What can he have been doing all this time?


Auxiliary 1 Auxiliary 2 Auxiliary 3 Lexical 




Answer to Question Rest:
I have been visiting friends
You may/could have left them in the car
He may/must have been answering messages

The columns may be cut out in separate parts and students may be asked to put them in the right order.

A possible idea is to use cardboard sheets of different  colours and have students copy the corresponding element on them. You may divide the class into 5-7 groups with each focusing on one element. This should be a quick activity and then, they shuffle the cards and see how many correct combinations they can provide.

You may, of course, use apps such as https://wordwall.net/ but we should not overlook the great value of performing kinesthetic activities such as re-arranging the parts.

And why not challenge them to produce other similar cards with different lexis and similar

Just as helpful and essential in communication is to FOCUS ON FUNCTIONS &

It ALSO HELPS TO RELATE the whole verb phrase to its most likely COLLOCATION-COMBINATIONS:

  • The lexical verb rules: it governs the auxiliaries that may or may not combine with it, and the subject/object/adjunct combinations it requires or allows.
  • Finally, do not EVER forget that it is important to teach it in context for the appropriate functions and following the appropriate politeness principles!!!

 Here’s a challenge

Think of a verb… any you are planning to use with/explain to your students…

Consider which auxiliaries -just the ones you have covered with that groupcan go with it.

Think of possible subjects/objects/ places/times/ ways/ etc. combinations related to what you have covered in class so far.

Ask your students to provide examples, make it/them relevant, engaging and challenging…

See what happens… and I’d love to hear about the experiences

Desde sus orígenes, el objetivo de PoppieS es ayudarte en la preparación de la oposición a profesores de inglés y contribuir a que la escuela pública ofrezca la enseñanza de calidad –de y en lengua inglesa– que tus alumnos necesitan en el s. XXI

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