Difficulties in the Applications of Tenses Faced by ESL Learners
Tenses are one of the vital essentials of grammar. Command over the English language demands a thorough understanding of tenses. Although much research has been conducted on the teaching of the English language in the context of Pakistan, little has been dug out about the problems faced by students regarding the applications of tenses. This paper investigates the perceptions of both students and teachers of the difficulties in the applications of tenses facing ESL learners. Data were collected from 150 students and 30 teachers of government high schools through a structured questionnaire. The results of the study showed that the students are confronted with many difficulties in the application of tenses consisting of using future indefinite tense instead of the simple present tense regarding its use for scheduled future activities, using present continuous tense instead of a simple present for the permanent situation in the present, using future indefinite tense for planned future activities and so on. The results also indicated that the difficulties were caused by inappropriate teaching methodology, lack of speaking environment inside the classroom, translations from the mother tongue into English and vice versa, much focus on rules and teaching sentences and expressions as isolated units rather than an integral part of the discourse. In the light of the results, it is recommended that while teaching tenses, teachers should focus both on rules and applications of tenses. English should be taught more as a language than as a mere body of rules. Moreover, teachers should be properly trained in teaching tenses.