Migrating to Canada and Improving my English
by Sharon Regalado
Hello everyone. I am Sharon, and I am studying at the American Institute for English Proficiency because I am going to migrate to Canada very soon. My husband has already been living there for five years, and my papers will soon be completed this year. After five long years of having a long distance marriage, I am so excited to finally join him. My two kids can’t wait to see their father as well.
But before we go to Canada, my husband told me that I needed to improve my English and communication skills because he wants to make sure that we will adjust more easily and quickly to the environment there. I can easily adapt to things, but English is one of the things I don’t do so well. Now that I am studying at The American Institute, I feel a little more confident day by day.
I am writing here on my teacher’s blog as part of my assignments to improve my English and communication skills. I will be practicing my sentence structures, subject-verb agreement, and verb tenses.
First, I will focus on my verb tenses, especially the past tense, because during class, I had difficulty being in the right tense. When I talked about an event in the past, I always switched to the present tense. You may wonder why my writing is like this, but of course, my teacher has already corrected this.
So on to the past tense. I need to make sure that when I describe something in the past, I am writing in the past tense. My teacher, Chris Delacruz, taught me that there are four past tenses: simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive. Here’s a quick explanation of the four past tenses:
Simple: Verb +d (baked), +ed (cooked), +ied (studied), irregular (ate)
- I baked a cake with my kids yesterday.
- I cooked pakbet for lunch, and my kids loved it.
- I studied my English lessons, especially the verb tenses.
- I ate with my kids at the mall.
According to my teacher, the simple past tense is used to describe an event that happened in the past. It is used to generally describe a completed event or situation.
Progressive: was/were + verb + ing (was/were eating)
- I was eating when you called me.
- They were eating when I called them.
According to my teacher, the past progressive tense is used to describe an event that started in the past and continued. It was ongoing. The action was moving. It was not completed yet. In Filipino, we say, “tuloy, tuloy.”
Perfect: had + past participle (had eaten)
- I had eaten my breakfast before I went to school.
- I had eaten my breakfast with my kids at 8 a.m. before I went to school at 9 a.m..
- I went to school at 9 a.m. after I had eaten my breakfast with my kids at 8 a.m..
- After I had eaten my breakfast with my kids at 8 a.m., I went to school at 9 a.m..
According to my teacher, the past perfect tense is used when we have at least two events or situations that were completed in the past. For example, in this case, “eat breakfast” and “go to school.” So instead of saying it with two simple past tenses like, “I ate breakfast. Then I went to school,” we can also use the past perfect form like, “I had eaten breakfast before I went to school.” This would make the speaker sound more sophisticated.
In Filipino, the past perfect tense is equivalent to “naka,” as in “Nakapagluto ako ng tanghalian bago ako pumunta sa eskwelahan.” I had cooked lunch before I went to school.
Perfect Progressive: had + been + verb + ing (had been eating)
- I had been eating when you called.
- My kids had been watching TV when I talked to my husband.
- They had been listening to the teacher when it started to rain outside.
- I had been cooking lunch when doorbell rang.
According to my teacher, it is similar to the past perfect form, except that the first event or situation is still ongoing when the second event happened. The activity is still moving when the second event completed.
My assignment is to write more examples in the comment section of this article. My teacher will be monitoring my progress here. Please feel free to practice here with me, so that we can learn from each other. I am still learning, and I know that I have a lot to learn.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency. She is migrating to Canada, and she would like to improve her English and communication skills first before going.