The Present Perfect to Discuss Work History

Design Guide

Designers for Learning - Adult Learning Zone

Part 1: Lesson Description

Lesson Title

The Present Perfect to Discuss Work History


This lesson is designed to benefit adult learners who are studying at a 6th to 8th grade level. The lesson would be most useful for English Language Learners but could also be useful to native English speakers who are finishing up their formal education. The lesson reviews how to use affirmative and negative present perfect, such as “I have (not) done”. It is assumed that learners have already studied and can recognize the formation of the present perfect, but the grammar will be reviewed briefly. Learners will practice forming the present perfect with vocabulary in the context of work and finding work. They will work in pairs, reading excerpts from job ads and writing present perfect sentences that indicate that they have done that job/task. Finally, learners will practice creating present perfect sentences with relation to their own work experience. This lesson is designed to take 30 minutes.

Learner Audience / Primary Users

The intended audience of this lesson is adults who are studying at a 6th to 8th grade level. This lesson is ideal for English Language Learners who already have a basic command of the English language but need to refine language production. This lesson could also be used as a grammar lesson for native English speakers who lack studies in English grammar.

Educational Use

  • Curriculum / Instruction

College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment

  • Level: Adult Education
  • Grade Level: D
  • Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy
  • Domain or Strand: [Type the CCRS Domain or Strand information]
  • Strand: Language
  • Standard Description: L.4-5.1.c.e.

CCR Anchor 1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar

and usage when writing or speaking.

C.e. Form and use the perfect (e.g., I had walked; I have walked; I will have walked) verb




Material Type

  • Instructional Material
  • Homework and Assignments

Learning Goals

The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:

  • Talk about things they have or have not done
  • Recognize and understand descriptions of work experience on resumes
  • Discuss requirements they have met that would make them eligible for certain jobs


  • Designers for Learning
  • Adult Education
  • Present Perfect
  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Job Search
  • Work Experience

Time Required for Lesson

30 minutes

Prior Knowledge

The learner must have prior knowledge of forming the past participle and the present perfect. This lesson is designed to refine use of the present perfect and teach learners to understand and use the present perfect in the context of a job hunt.

Required Resources

  • Instructor will need to gather job ads and excerpts of sample cover letters or resumes to show learners how to identify if they have met the necessary requirements for a job.
  • All provided visual and print resources, such as worksheets, are embedded in the lesson and are available under "Supplementary Resources" at the end of this lesson.
  • Projector, set up to instructor's computer, to show pictures at beginning of lesson and project examples throughout. If technology is unavailable, pictures may be printed before the lesson and examples may be written on a board or shared as a handout.
  • If learners are using computers or tablets, worksheets and printable materials may be shared electronically. 

Lesson Author & License

  • Lesson Author: Lauren Sullivan
  • License: Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license

Part 2: Lesson

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:

  • Demonstrate ability to recognize and properly conjugate verbs in the present perfect.
  • Recognize job skills and use of the present perfect in sample cover letters and job ads.
  • Construct original present perfect sentences to describe work history.

Lesson Topics

Key topics covered in this lesson include:

  • Responding to job ads
  • Creating description of work experience for resumes
  • Discussing what the learner has or has not done in his/her work past

Context Summary

This lesson will help ESL adult learners refine their skills using the present perfect. While many beginning language learners first master the present and past tenses, tenses like the present perfect indicate a higher level of English. Many adult ESL learners are interested in studying English in order to gain more opportunities for advancement at a current job, or to help them be competitive in an English-speaking job market.

Relevance to Practice

Learners will see excerpts of language used in cover letterswritten in response to particular job ads. They will see how they can match up their own skills to job ads and how they can discuss their work experience using sentences with the “I have (not)…” construction. This lesson will help learners become more comfortable with searching for jobs and writing cover letters and resumes to discuss their work history.

Key Terms and Concepts

Cover Letter: a letter written to an employer that explains why someone would be an ideal candidate for a job. It is often submitted in order to accompany a resume.

Past Participle: grammar used with the past perfect, typically ending in -ed or -en, but there are irregulars

Present Perfect: grammar combining the auxiliary verb “to have” with the past participle in order to say that something has happened, has been done, etc. It is sometimes called the “present past” because it discusses the past within the present context.

Instructional Strategies and Activities


Time: 3 minutes

Learners will see a group of 4 pictures of people working (use link below or find your own pictures). The instructor will ask the learners to write down 2 verbs per picture that would describe what that person does in their daily work. For example, for the construction worker, the learners might write something like “construct” or “build”. For students who take longer, the instructor may choose to assign only 2 pictures, or 1 verb per picture.

Download: PicturesforWarm-Up.pdf


Time: 3 minutes

The instructor will ask if any of the learners has done the work shown in the picture. If any learner says yes, the instructor will ask that learner directly, “What have you done?” and the learner should attempt to answer in a complete sentence using the present perfect. For learners who have not done those jobs, the instructor will ask what their current/most recent job is/was and what things they have done at those jobs.

Presentation / Modeling / Demonstration

Time: 5 minutes

The instructor will give out or project a sheet that includes a reminder of the conjugations of the auxiliary verb “to have” and a list of common past participles that have to do with job skills (completed, organized, initiated, etc).

Download: PresentPerfectReminders.pdf

The instructor will explain that many job ads ask for skills and work experience and that applicants need to demonstrate that they have done certain things in order to be eligible for the jobs.The instructor will show sample job ads paired up with excerpts from resumes and cover letters that match up to those job requirements. For example, a job ad for a office administrator might say “experience using Microsoft Office” and an excerpt might state “I have used Microsoft Office”. The instructor will show a few examples that use skills and job requirements from various fields.

The instructor will show a couple of examples of other job ad excerpts and will then write out, step by step, the correct present perfect sentence to state that an applicant has met that requirement.

Guided Practice

Time: 7 minutes

Learners will use additional job requirements from various ads (instructor can either invent these or search for job ads online/in local papers).They will have to write first person present perfect statements that would indicate that someone has done that job or met that requirement. For example, if “high school diploma” is a requirement for one job, the learner would produce a statement such as “I have graduated high school”.

An example can be done as a group and then students should work individually or in pairs. Ideally, students will produce 4-5 original sentences using the present perfect to describe what has been done as indicated by the job ad excerpt. The examples that the instructor uses should display a variety of jobs with different requirements. Learners should produce their own original sentences, but for learners who have more difficulty with English, the instructor may provide a verb (for example "graduate" next to the requirement of a high school diploma). The instructor will walk around the room and be sure that learners are correctly forming their statements and using a variety of verbs.


Time: 5 minutes

The instructor will ask learners what they wrote on the worksheet. She will call on one learner to read his/her sentence from the worksheet and then ask for suggestions from other learners about other verbs that could have been used or other ways to form the statements.


Time: 7 minutes

Learners will think of their own field of work. They will write a list of skills or job requirements that are usually necessary for their field and then will write original present perfect sentences to indicate that they have already done those tasks or met those requirements. The instructor will walk around and help learners think of alternative verbs and will offer correction as necessary.

Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References

Supplementary Resources

Present Perfect Formation Additional Practice:

Interview Practice Questions and Resources:

Resources for Job Ads:





Job & career interview questions : Eslflow webguide. (n.d.). Retrieved May 04, 2016, from

Shoebottom, P. (2016). The Present Perfect Tense. Retrieved May 04, 2016, from

Attribution Statements

Visuals used on warm-up activity pdf have been attributed on the pdf itself.

All other provided materials are my original creation and have been classified with a CC BY 4.0 License. 

CC Attribution

This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.        

(Design Guide effective March 2, 2016)

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