Sunday 3 July 2011

Your City - Past and Present (a powerpoint project)

This is a student activity project which can be done with all levels and practises various grammar points including present and past tenses and the language of comparing and contrasting.

Teacher's notes
  1. Find some old photos of your city or town from 50 -100 or more years ago
  2. Go out and have students take photos of the same locations today
  3. Students then prepare a powerpoint (see below) to compare and contrast the photos
  4. Students should write a short descriptive paragraph describing each pair of photos (present and past). See below for structures to practise.
  5. The powerpoint can then printed and turned into a booklet (ie a  souvenir for foreign students on a summer course) or class posters. It could also done as a presentation in class.
  6. Students can also research online and write an introduction outlining some local history and points of interest.
  7. Students can also write a conclusion stating whether they think there have been many changes and improvemets.

Language to practise

Elementary > Pre-intermediate 
  • Adjectives
  • Using present simple and continuous tenses and past simple and continuous tenses
  • There is / are / was / were (n't)
  • Some / any
  • Countable nouns
  • Articles
  • Comparatives

Intermediate > Upper Intermediate
  • Same as above plus
  • Expressions to compare and contrast - both / also / however / on the other hand / although / moreover...
  • Present perfect
  • Passive
  • Descriptive adjectives
  • Stating opinions

Powerpoint Template

Here is a powerpoint template I prepared for a project on Southampton in the UK with a pre-intermediate class. The contemporary photos were mostly taken by the students on a group excursion (however google supplied one or two) and are occasionally a little dark but you get the idea...

  • It's probably best to use google to find historic photos of your area but here is a site which is good for the UK
  • If you can't get students to take photos then contemporary UK photos can be found here
  • BBC's Turn Back Time is a similar idea and can be seen here

Discussion Ask students which photos they prefer - the past or the present. Why?
Is there anything good that we have lost from the past?
Would they like to travel back in time? When? Why?
What would they miss from the present?  

Writing (IELTS) - People nowadays work hard to buy more things. This has made our lives generally more comfortable but many traditional values and customs have been lost and it is a pity. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Now try this post
Describe a city - Superlative Southampton Comparatives and Superlatives, Describing a place, Intermediate, Reading, Southampton, Upper Intermediate, Webquest 


  1. A very nice idea to provoke thoughts and interest! :)
    gonna try doing it!

  2. Hi Kushalashok, Thanks! It's usually good fun!