About 20 years ago, on a cold Sunday morning, I was at home when I got a call from one of my cousins.
He sounded very enthusiastic about whatever he was doing and much friendlier than usual. He was in London and was on his way to visit me and wanted to
check my 'at home' status. I told him I had no plans for the day and to come any time.
Two hours later, my bell rang and I opened the door. There he was with a big smile on his face and a plastic bag containing something the size of
a big cookery book. He started singing “Happy Birthday” and festooned me with the bag and its contents. I decided to wait until later to tell him that
it wasn't actually my birthday, thanked him and opened the mystery package. It was a screwdriver set, the sort of present you give someone when you
forget it's their birthday and stop off to buy the most passable option at a petrol station.
I still have that screwdriver set. Seventeen screwdrivers of different shapes and sizes. I looked at it last weekend and saw that, in 20 years, only
3 were ever used.
When we look at how humans speak and write, it's similar. According to the laws of the universe as we know them, we have 9 places on the clock and
calendar in which to frame a sentence but 3 dominate: General Time, Past Time and Future Time. As teachers and students, we can save a lot of time
if we focus on the 3 big screwdrivers.
From Ray Flack, Tutor at OISE London
Ray has been teaching for 33 years and has been at OISE London for 12 years. His particular strengths lie in teaching grammar and pronunciation, as well as exam preparation for IELTS and the Cambridge suite exams.