Teaching English Learners Today, Yesterday, & Tomorrow

It is important to teach and review yesterday, today and tomorrow frequently with students, particularly those with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE). This can be done by writing three sentences on the board.

    • Yesterday was ____________.
    • Today is ______________.
    • Tomorrow will be _____________.

Begin by asking, "What day is today?"  Add some prompts like, "Is today Monday? Tuesday?" When the students know the correct day or the week, write it in the blank or you can ask a student to write the answer on the board.

Next ask, "What day was yesterday?" This usually requires some body language to clarify yesterday as the day before today.  You might point point behind to indicate 'yesterday' and to your feet for 'today' and in front of you for 'tomorrow'. You can also use  pointing at the current day on a calendar then move your finger backward to yesterday to improve understanding. Write the correct day in the blank when students figure it out. 

Lastly, ask. "What day will tomorrow be?" Again, point to the calendar and move your finger forward to the next day. When my students say the correct day, write the answer in the blank.

In addition to teaching the days, you can reinforce verb tenses: is (present), was (past),  and will be (future). Have students practice saying present tense sentences such as, "Today I am going shopping." Likewise, practice the past tense orally with sentences like, "Yesterday I called my friend." Additionally, you can work on future tense statements like, "Tomorrow I will visit my friend."

Finally, have students write these three sentences. This helps them to develop their handwriting, sentence skills, and days of the week.

  • Yesterday was Wednesday.
  • Today is Thursday.
  • Tomorrow will be Friday.
Happy Teaching!

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