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Learning Irregular Verbs In English

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5350 words Published: 16th May 2017

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The present report contains the results of the investigation carried out at Higüerito Basic School. It is evident that the goal of grammar instruction is to enable students to carry out their communication, Purposes, thereby getting involved with all those difficulties students have had for years to learn and use irregular verbs is highly important for teachers of English as a foreign Language.

This Research has three Different Chapters:

Chapter I, Presents the historical context of the Educational Center, it shows the External or geographic aspects of Higüerito Basic School, There´s an analysis of the Socio Economic and cultural characteristics of the Educational Center, In addition the philosophy of Higüerito Basic School.

The second chapter of this investigation states the difficulties in Learning Irregular verbs which is the basis of this research, It is analyzed here different aspects and methods of teaching irregular verbs such as; Infinitives matching and grouping, presentation, infinitives, unfamiliarity with infinitives, infinitives matching, The present continuous tense as matter of priority, categorization of irregular verbs and some strategies to teach irregular verbs.

Chapter III, Is where the result of the investigation is presented. Firstly this chapter shows the results of the interview directed to the English teachers of Higüerito Basic School and the results of the survey applied to the students of this Educational Center.


Teachers are always trying to find new and easily comprehensible ways to teach different parts of grammar, especially for the challenge that teaching irregular verbs represents. It hasn’t been easy to deal with irregular verbs or make students understand how to use them.

We felt motivated to investigate about it, because as English students we have also had difficulties with the acquisition and usage of irregular verbs. It is highly important to have all kind of information about the process of teaching irregular verbs, because we are thoroughly sure that as future English professionals will need to use them in a current conversation or in the classroom. This research will not only be important for us, it will also be important for those readers who share the benefits of the results of this investigation.

The advantages of overcoming the difficulties that most teachers and students have with irregular verbs will contribute to improve the teaching and learning process that so far has been obstructed.


This investigation was documentary and it was carried out in the field too, considering these, and the best and ideal ways to obtain excellent results and to count with the correct tools to understand the target problem of this research.

In this investigation were used the descriptive and analytical methods, this report starts with a problem that is affecting most of the schools of our country in order to analyze a particular situation that is happening in Higüerito Basic in San Juan de la Maguana Dom. Rep.

All the possible elements that concern to this research were summarized and the results of the analysis were summarized.

For more credibility and trying to give a realistic out look to

Different sources were analyzed:

Research, Books, on line technology and surveys at Higüerito Basic School; teachers and students were interviewed




1.1- Historical context of the Educative center.

1.2 – External or Geographic Aspects

1.2.1- Socio Economic and Cultural Characteristics of the Center.

1.3 – Internal Characteristics of the School

1.3.1 – Description of the infrastructure.

1.3.2 – Philosophy of the Educative Center.

1.3.3- Strengths and weaknesses of Higüerito Basic School.

1.3.4- Problems of the Educative Center.

1.3.5- Statistics of Higüerito Basic School


General Characteristics of Higüerito Basic school

This chapter I presents important information concerning to the historical context of the Educational Center, the Geographical location of Higüerito Basic School, The Socio Economic and Cultural Characteristics of the Sector; This chapter also presents the internal characteristics of the school, it focuses the infrastructure; In addition it presents the philosophy of the Educational Center, the Strengths and weaknesses of Higüerito basic school whereas the problems of the Educational Center and the Statistics of Higüerito basic School.

I. I. Historical context of the Educational Center.

The first pavilion of the school was made of wood in 1953, by this time the principal was Mrs. Batida Ruiz, later they built three more classrooms, and three more teachers were hired.

In 1970 teacher Ana Isolina de la Cruz was in charge of the school, in 1970 there was a staff of 2o teachers. Under Mrs. De la Cruz administration a second pavilion was built in 1982.

Finally in 2001 Higüerito Basic School was managed by Lida. Francisca Mirella Rodriquez.

1.2 Geographical Location of the Higüerito Basic School

This Urban School Belongs to Region 02 District 02-06. It is located in the Northern part of the city at 151 Anacaona Avenue in San Juan de la Maguana Dominican Republic.

In the northern part of Higüerito Basic School there’s a neighborhood called, project 20 of the Ensanche Anacaona. South of the school there’s a belt way Better Known as Circumvallation San Juan Bautista. East of the school, it’s located the Fire Fighter building and to the west La Altagracia Neighborhood.

1.2.1- Socio Economic and Cultural Characteristics of the sector.

To talk about the Educational preparation of the, or background of the people, who live in this area it is necessary to present this topic focusing on the different sectors that are surrounding the educational center. The people, who live in the Eastern part of the school, are teachers, some of them are working and others are retired.

Those people who live north of the school have an average level of education, most of the students that attend this school belong to this area, and they come from humble homes lots of economic adversities.

San Juan de la Maguana is well known as “El Granero del Sur”, for its grain production, there by most of these people income depends on agriculture this activity is the economic support of the citizens, all around this educational center there are, some liquor stores.

Concerning to cultural aspects, it is well known that every educational center that provides any kind of service to the community has its own beliefs and culture, which is well identified in student’s behavior.

San Juan owns a rich culture with multiple traditions such as saint patron’s party, in honor of John the Baptist. These parties are celebrated from June 15th to June 24th each year. This belief is part of every child and it is part of the school and the community.

The school participates in all the activities promoted by different institutions of the community.

1.3- Description of the Infrastructure of the Higüerito Basic School.

The infrastructure of Higüerito basic school looks in good conditions, Nowadays the School is made of blocks. It has 17 classrooms, Higüerito School has an area of 466, 43 Mts. And each classroom measures 5.29mts. And 6.44 mts. There are only two bathrooms for the students which are not enough for the amount of pupils. The furniture’s are not in good conditions, they need to be fixed.

In the inside part of the school it could be observed certain amount of garbage in the yard and in the halls. There is a bad smell that comes out of the bathrooms this situation is affecting the students health.

1.3.1 Internal Characteristics of Higüerito Basic School

At present this School is been managed by a principal, for a better management it also has a procedures Staff, a cooperative team and a pedagogic team pretending to guarantee the application of the contents proposed by the curriculum.

1.3.2 Philosophy of the educative Center

The project of Center of Higüerito Basic School States the vision and mission of this school, it pretends to guarantee the preparation of all of the students increasing the reinvestment of values, attitudes and talents, making of those teenagers competent people. With the effort of dedicated teachers and following the guidance of the curriculum the image and the prestige of the school is going up.

Some important values that make part of this school priority are: dignity, love, solidarity, discipline, responsibility, respect, collaboration, empathy, partnership, faith, honesty, creativity, humbleness, hygiene and sincerity.

1.3.3 Strengths and weaknesses of Higüerito Basic School.

According to the information compiled from the project of center this school, it may be quoted the following strengths:

The teachers who come to this school are qualified teachers, willing to work with a high spirit of compromise, responsibility and desire to improve.

The school is located away from disturbing places in benefit of those who take classes in this Educative Center.

This Educative center contemplates as weaknesses: Lack of Library equipment, counseling Department, equipment and adequate school supplies.

1.3.4 Problems of the educative center

The problems that are quoted in the project of center of this school are : indiscipline in the classroom, the student have reading problems, The process of teaching technical areas has become one of the biggest problems of the school because those technical areas as English and French require experienced teachers and this school doesn’t have these teachers yet.


Difficulties in Learning Irregular Verbs

2.1 Difficulties Learning Irregular verbs.

2.1.1 Infinitives Matching and grouping.

2.1.2 Presentation, practice, production.

2.1.3 Unfamiliarity with infinitives

2.1.4 Infinitives matching.

2.1.5 The present continuous tense as matter of priority.

2.1.6 Categorization of irregular verbs.

2.1.7 Database making and strategies to teach irregular verbs.

THE Difficulties in Learning Irregular verbs

The chapter II of This research is based on the analysis of the difficulties in learning irregular verbs, here it is presented the infinitive matching and grouping activities and some methods such as presentation, practice and production, it is also treated here the unfamiliarity with infinitives, infinitive matching, the present continuous tense as a matter of priority as well as the categorization of irregular verbs and some strategies to teach irregular verbs.

2.1 Difficulties Learning Irregular Verbs.

For learner of English, irregular verbs represent one of the most difficult aspects of the language.

Normally because they are presented in the form of alphabetical lists. Never take into account the actual occurrence of these verbs.

Irregular verbs haunt learners of English from the beginning to the end of their studies.

Teachers are always trying to find new and easily comprehensible ways to teach different parts of grammar. The past tens and the perfective aspect on the verb are two rather difficult areas for ESL Learners all over the world. ESL Learners usually try several hypotheses before they can handle the past tense confidently. Especially, the irregular past poses problems for learners. If they could be organized in a morphonemic classification, to make it easier for the learners to create file/ folders that they can easily accommodate them in their learning process, and if the learning load can be reduced thereby, learners can grasp and remember them better and faster. In English, majority of the verbs go through 4 forms, with an exception of modal auxiliary verbs. These forms are: 2 tense forms and 2 aspects for

The verbs in English behave in four different ways in the past tense:

I. There is a regular past tense form:

2. There is an irregular past tense form wherein it takes any shape, which is not easily predicted.

3. There is a vowel change past tense form in which on vowel in the verb changes to form the past tense, while the rest of the verb shape remains the same.

4. There is a no change past tense form wherein the verb remains as it is. The irregular verbs have hardly any resemblance with the original form of the verbs and therefore their past form is unpredictable.

2.1.1 Infinitives matching and grouping

The students are encouraged to match and group infinitives in a logical way. Hence, when they star dealing with the past simple tense, they have become familiar with the infinitives, so the primary barrier is eliminated. The list of irregular verbs with all three forms is then cat into pieces and the students are asked to categorize the irregular verbs on the basis of resemblance. This proceeds from a classification of irregular verbs as stated in a comprehensive grammar of the English language.

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The students are encouraged to create their own positive negative compound sentences, which they can as the fourth step- develop in stories. The fifth step is fixing phase, during which the students organize and reorganize the irregular verbs depending on how familiar the students are with them – having learnt the infinitive, past and past- participle forms by heart, however, the students are found unable to recognize any of the forms if written in English, there is a method elaborated by: “Jeremy Harmer”, consists of the following elements: Engage, Study, Activate.

In the engage phase, the teacher s effort is to awake the students interest, arouse their curiosity, and engage their emotions, employing numerous means, such as games, pictures, audio or video recordings, or dramatic stories.

Most of us can remember lessons at school which were uninvolving and where we, switched off from what was being taught. We may also remember lessons where we were more or less paying attention, but where we were not really hooked. We were not engaged emotionally with what was going on; we were not curious, passionate or involved. Yet things are learnt much better if both our minds and our hearts are brought into service. Engagement of this type is one of the vital ingredients for successful learning.¨ Harmer, (200:52).

Hence, instead of being passively taught the infinitives of irregular verbs, students are encourage to play with them, in the activate phase, those exercises and activities are comprised, which gave been designed to make students use the language communicatively. The students are discouraged to focus on the language construction or practice of its particular patterns. On the contrary, the activities are to help the students to use their full language knowledge in the selected situation or task. The objective in the activate phase is, to use all and any language which may be appropriate for a given situation or topic. In this way students get a chance to try out real language use with little or no restriction, a kind of rehearsal for the real life.

Story – making is an activity typically employed within the activate phase. The students are assigned to create a story, being allowed to use limited or unlimited group of vocabulary.

2.1.2 Presentation, practice, production.

This is a widely spread approach, in terms of which the teacher present the language and then encourages the student to practice it at first by means of highly controlled activities the p.p.p model is employed efficiently when most isolated grammatical items are being dealt with. From the teacher’s point of view, it is highly favorable since it allows the teacher to time each stage of the lesson fairly accurately and anticipate and solve the possible problems the students may encounter.

2.1.3 Unfamiliarity with Infinitives

According to the structure of a elementary English course, students are expected to acquire the principles of the past simple tense and past forms of numerous irregular verbs, one difficulty the have is that the encounter approximately one hundred verbs fewer than half of which are irregular for example. Buy, come, cost, do, draw, drink, drive, eat, fall, find, fly, get, give, go, have, hear, know, leave, make, mean, meet, put, read, ring, run, say, see, sing, sit, sleep, speak, spend, stand, swim, take, tell, think, understand, wear, write. Then the biggest problem the students have is that they are not given enough opportunities to get familiar with them. When they have managed to learn the infinitives of hardly twenty irregular verbs, the students are confronted with both a new grammatical phenomenon the principles of making the past simp0le tense, and a flood of irregular verbs. They become showered with the infinitives and past forms of so many new irregular verbs that they start drawing, losing their motivation

2.1.4 Infinitives Matching.

It’s a teaching aid that consists in encouraging students to match and group infinitives in a way which they find logical. This method is of double benefit to the students. First it makes the infinitives easy to remember, and secondly, it forces the student to enrich their vocabulary by looking up synonyms to the given verbs.

Vocabulary cannot be taught. It can be presented, explained, included in all kind of activities, and experienced in all manner of associations, but ultimately it is learned by the individual.

Language teachers must arouse interest in words and a certain excitement in personal development in this area. Teachers must help the students by giving them ideas on how to learn, but each will finally learn a very personal selection of items, organized into relationships’ in a individual way” (1983). Wilga Rivers.

2.1.5 The present continuous tense as a matter of priority

Dealing with the present continuous tense before starting to do the past simple one is another way how to imprint on students memory as many infinitives of irregular verbs as possible, before confronting the principles of making and using of the present continuous tense is considerably easier than the past simple.

Describing various pictures, a method typically applied when teaching present continuous, encourages students to look up a considerable number of verbs in a dictionary. This method. By choosing appropriate pictures, the teacher can give the students the right direction towards irregular verbs without the students realizing that they are being controlled.

“Successful language learning in a classroom depends on a judicious blend of subconscious language acquisition and a kind of study activities.” Harmer.

The inquired system is according to krashen, “A product of a subconscious process very similar to the process children under goes when they acquire their first language”

The learned system, on the contrary, is defined by krashen as a product of formal instruction, comprising a conscious process with results in conscious knowledge about the language. In other words learning is less important than acquisition with the method of describing pictures being applied, students are able to learn the infinitives of all the eighty or ninety most commonly used irregular verbs on cards, which they are encourage to employ when describing routines or making bubble diagrams. In this way, the students are able to get familiar with a substantial number of verbs in an easy, natural manner.

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Other problem when teaching irregular verbs is that having instilled the infinitive forms of the most commonly used irregular verbs into the students, teacher are sometimes confronted with another problem. They have to decide whether to involve past participles and teach all three forms at once, or to postpone teaching of the past participles until the present perfecto tense is being done.

2.1.6 Categorization of irregular verbs.

The students are expected to memorize all three forms of the following eighty- six irregular verbs. Be, beat, begin, break, bring, build, burn, buy, catch, choose, come, cost, cut, deal, do, draw, drink, drive, eat, fall, feel, find, fly, forget, forgive, get, give, go, have, hear, hit, hold, hurt, keep, know, leave, lend, lie, lose, make, mean, pay, put, read, ride, ring, run, say, see, sell, send, sing, sleep, speak, spell, spend, stand, swim, teach, tell, think, throw, understand, wake, wear, win, wrote etc…

Irregular ones in that either the past inflection or the ed participle inflection, or both of these, are irregular. The irregular verbs either do not have the regular -ed inflection

According to a comprehensive grammar of the English language irregular verbs differ from else. Irregular verbs typically, but not invariably, have variation in their base vowel; irregular verbs have a varying number of distinct forms…

The base form past and the ed participle. These are traditionally known as the principal parts of the verb- most irregular verbs have, like regular ones, only one common form for the past.

The 250 or so irregular verbs can be, classified on the basis of criteria derived from similarities and differences. In other to make the irregular verbs easier to memorize, the students Endeavour to discover as many similarities and differences as possible.

There is a method that consists in students creating positive – negative – questions triplets of sentences.

This method is called reversing the students choose a card with the infinitive are asked to provide a triplet in the past simple tens. For example: see I saw Jane yesterday but I didn’t see Bob – Did you see Antonio?

This method of reversing is possible to extend and apply later on when dealing with the present perfect tense. Not only do the students practice recalling the past form and past participle of the particular verb, they also learn to recognize the difference between the past simple tense and the present perfect one in terms of usage. Come: Pedro came to our house last Saturday but Jessica didn’t come. Did Robert come? Pedro has come but Jessica hasn’t come yet. Has Robert come?

When learning irregular verbs other strategy very effective for learning them is creating story, employing the cards with the past forms of the irregular verbs on them. At the beginning, the students are preferably supposed to use verbs within a group or subgroup, in order to fix the patterns in their minds. Gradually, however, they are encouraged to introduce verbs from the other groups or subgroups.

2.1.7 Database Making and strategies to teach irregular verbs

In order to conclude the process of intensive irregular verbs learning, the students are asked to create a database of the cards witch they made and used during the process itself. Such a card index is to be at the students’ disposal ever after while revising or when they are confronted with a new tense or grammar.

There lots of useful programs teachers could use as a support for teaching irregular verbs. These programs focus on high – frequency irregular verbs and train them in their base, present. Present progressive, past, and past perfect forms, some of the resource that these programs use are: Flash, multiple choice with sentences not read, spelling activity. In all activities, there are teacher choices to set interface, level of difficulty, speech and /or text options, response time, and background reinforcement animation.

Games (to memorize form), there are several games that can easily be adapted to practice past tense verbs.

Bingo: Students are asked to make a 3×3 grid on a piece of paper, look at their list of irregular verbs and to complete their grid with infinitive verbs. When they have finished, start reading student hears the past form of a verb they have on their grid, they cross it out. The first to cross out all the verbs on the grid calls “Bingo” – and wins. Follow this up by asking students to work in pairs and to prepare a story using the verbs on their grid, in the past tense.

Tennis or volleyball, this activity involves students calling out verbs to each other, as if they were passing a ball over and invisible net.

Ex. Student I. Says the infinitive of the verb (Run)

Student 2. Says the past form. (Ran)

Student 3. Says the past participle (Run)

If a student gets a word wrong (or pauses for more than 10 seconds), they lose. Students can do this in pairs, although with smaller classes you may set up two facing chairs in front of the class and have students come up and play each other in front of the others. The students who win stays (as the reigning champion) and another student come up to challenge.

Permanism (or Memory), prepare a set of cars with the infinitive on them (set A), and a set of cards with the past tense on them (Set B). Put both sets face down on a table. Invite a student to pick up two cards. He / She must read the verbs aloud on the cards and decide if they match. If they match, he/she keeps them- If they don’t match him /she shows them to the others and puts them back down. Another student comes up and tries to get a matching, pair in the same way.

It could be done with large or small classes. With a large class put the students into groups of four and ask each group to prepare their own cards. Working with pronunciations: give students a list of irregular past tense verbs and ask them to group them according to the main vowel sound in each. If this seems too hard, you could give them verbs and find others that sound the same. For example, find the matching pairs of verbs in this list: wrote could taught read eat drank gave had waked went took bought. You could group the irregular verbs according to similar sounds and put them and a poster on the wall.

Meaningful practice, Listen and recap: In this activity you give the students a list of irregular verbs in the students a list of irregular verbs in their infinitive form (on a worksheet, or written on the board). You then tell a personal story, incorporating the past tense of the verbs. It’s best to prepared this ahead of time, bearing in mind what your students understands. As the students listen, they must number the verbs they hear in order. When you finish, tell the students to compare their order in pairs. They should then write the past form of all the verbs they heard. Check the answers with the whole class. Then ask the students to try and are tell the story together using the past tense verbs as cues. Finally ask students to tell a similar story based on their own experience.

Monday morning conversation, one way of getting a lot of past simple verbs out of the students is to simply start an informal chat with them at the beginning of the class, The simple what did you do last weekend? On Monday morning should throw up some past simple verbs. You can also go around ask the students some questions and allow them to answer.

Teaching English irregular verbs is indeed challenging.

However the goal of grammar instruction is to enable students to carry out their communication purposes irregular verbs are verbs themselves. The fourth grade is when those verbs start getting hammered into kids’ brains so that they might not mess them up quite so much when they’ re older. Irregular verbs are verbs that don’t follow normal conjugation rules as thy traverse temporal space. They are the source of a great deal of frustration if you let them, unfortunately the only way to learn irregular verbs is to memorize their freaky conjugation as you encounter them.

The irregular verbs might be the hardest part of fourth grade grammar.

Chapter III

Presentation and Analysis of the data’s of the investigation

In this chapter are presented the results of the investigation carried out in the Educative Center Higüerrito basic School. The results of the interview to the principal of the School and the surveys applied to teachers and students of this Educative Center.

3.1. Interview Applied to the Principal of the Educative Center Higüerito basic School.

In this section are analyzed the answers obtained from the interview to the director of the school.

The principal of Higüerito basic School was asked if she supervises the English teachers while they are on duty and her answer was affirmative, but she specified, that is the teacher in charge of the grade who teaches English because they don’t have a teacher for the area so far. She was also questioned if she has received any kind of complaints from the students for the lustration they receive, and she answer,54 “not yet” she was asked if the school trains the teachers in order to have better results during and after the process of teaching and learning She replied, “no.” She was also questioned about the resources that the teachers of English need as a complement to their teaching process and she said that is a teacher´s responsibility because public Schools do not provide these resources, when she was asked how she evaluates the English teachers´ work, her reply was, that she evaluates it very good, because they are not English teachers actually, and believe it or not they have been teaching well taking in to considerations the limitations.

Here´s the key of the problems, as this Educative Center is Subsidized by the State and the fact that there aren’t languages teachers: The teachers in charge of the grade are obliged to mange to teach. In the project of center the principal States as an advantage the preparation of the teachers who work for this school but they don’t have qualified English teachers, and this is a serious problem because either the teachers or the students might feel frustrated, the teachers feeling unable to do their job and the students getting drowned in their attempt for learning the language.

3.2 Survey elaborated for the English teachers of Higüerito basic School.

In this section are analyzed the answers obtained from the survey applied to teachers of English of Higüerito basic School.

I. Years of experience of Higüerito basic school English teachers.
















In this square it could be observed that 3 teachers have from 1-5 years of experience teaching and 2 teachers have from 5- 10 years of experience.

These years of experience are a good indicator to guarantee the quality of teaching of the Educative Center Higüerito.

2. Techniques used by teachers of the Educative Center Higüerito to teach irregular verbs.




Participation in class

Oral Practice



Home works

Written Exams



All the previous Alternatives

None of the Alternatives




According to what it seen in this chart, 20. % of the English teachers use as a teaching technique, the oral practice and 80 % use written ex


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