Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I was sitting on the sofa.
I was sitting on the sofa.
I was sitting on the sofa
At 10 last night.

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I was watching the TV.
I was watching the TV.
I was watching the TV
At 10 last night.

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I was listening to music.
I was listening to music.
I was listening to music
At 10 last night.

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I was looking at the sea.
I was looking at the sea.
I was looking at the sea
At 10 last night.

The entrance to Balaklava bay

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I was on vkontakte.*
I was on vkontakte.
I was on vkontakte
At 10 last night.

What were you doing?
What were you doing?
What were you doing
At 10 last night?

I wasn’t doing anything.
I wasn’t doing anything.
I wasn’t doing anything
At 10 last night!

I made up this chant, inspired by Jane Harding da Rosa, to help my pre-intermediate students with the concept of past continuous to talk about ongoing events at a fixed point in the past. I had a few ideas for verses and they added more.

We also tried a variant where they asked:

What was she doing?**
What was she doing?
What was she doing
At 10 last night.

The verse was about a particular student, and the others had to choose a possible answer. For example:

She was listening to music.
She was listening to music.
She was listening to music
At 10 last night.

…to which the student who was being discussed had to respond with either:

Yes, I was. Yes, I was.
Yes, I was. You’re right.

OR

No, I wasn’t. No, I wasn’t.
No, I wasn’t. You’re wrong.
(followed by a verse of them saying what they really were doing)

Through the chant, the students had practice with the positive, negative, question, and short forms of the past continuous. It is also designed to help them with the rhythms of English, as they struggle with listening, especially with weak forms (something I identified using this post-listening reflection questionnaire from Mat Smith’s blog). They responded really well, and a week later were chanting it when they came into class. I tried it with my teens too, and they didn’t get it at all!

So, what were YOU doing at 10 last night?

*Vkontakte is a Russian equivalent of facebook, which is very popular among my students.

** Or ‘he’, of course!

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Comments on: "What were you doing at 10 last night?" (11)

  1. That’s brilliant Sandy, and my first thought is how easy it would be to apply to almost any language point…. and could be enjoyable for students of all ages too!

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  2. […] What were you doing? What were you doing? What were you doing At 10 last night? I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa At 10 last night. What were you doing…  […]

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  3. uttam kumar sharma said:

    Very interesting. Its simple lyric along with its rhythmic sound will help student memorize the language structure easily.

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  4. Karelys Gomez said:

    Pretty handly for everyone. It helps you to understand easily the past continuous and memorize its pattern.

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  5. […] What were you doing? What were you doing? What were you doing At 10 last night? I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa At 10 last night. What were you doing…  […]

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  6. […] What were you doing? What were you doing? What were you doing At 10 last night? I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa At 10 last night. What were you doing…  […]

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  7. […] "What were you doing?What were you doing?What were you doingAt 10 last night?I was sitting on the sofa.I was sitting on the sofa.I was sitting on the sofa…I made up this chant, inspired by Jane Harding da Rosa, to help my pre-intermediate students with the concept of past continuous to talk about ongoing events at a fixed point in the past."  […]

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  8. Hi Sandy, So pleased you were inspired by my session. I probably wouldn’t go as far as writing so many verses as I think it’s much more valuable for the students to make up their own, once they have been shown the formula/ pattern. So, after the first Q and A verses I might ask one of the students what they did at 10 o’clock last night and when they answer encourage the rest of the class to say it as a chant. (Teens respond better to making it their own, even more so if they can put their own slant on it so it’s more of a rap) You can also prompt students with flash cards etc so they feel it’s their chant, not yours. Including negatives and 3rd person is also a must 🙂

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    • Thanks for the comment Jane. We did have some negatives and third person sentences in the lesson, although I didn’t add them to the post. I realised while I was doing it that I’d made it too many verses. The last two examples here were from the students (vkontakte/not doing anything), and they werethe ones that they repeated to me the following week. Thanks so much for inspiring me to do this – I’ll definitely use it again!

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  9. […] What were you doing? What were you doing? What were you doing At 10 last night? I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa. I was sitting on the sofa At 10 last night. What were you doing…  […]

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