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Diny Rosita Hidayati

Tenses is one of many components that should be mastered by English language learners in
order to use English properly. Based on the writers interview, Leaning tenses is sometimes
difficult for high school students. They get difficulty in using appropriate form of verb in a
sentence even for the simple tenses (simple present tense, simple past tense, or simple future
tense). Accordingly, the writer, as well as the teacher, delivers some fun ways to assist
students learning English tense. One of them is playing a game by using TEBRICA (tenses
bridge game). In this paper, two elaborations regarding the issue are discussed. At first, it
provides theories and practices of how TEBRICA can accelerate students motivation and
achievement in English tenses learning. It then elaborates how TEBRICA game can be
applied as a fun activity in the classroom.
Keywords: English tenses, games, playing cards, bridge game, vocational high school.
Having been discussed lately that communicative approach is one of the best ways to learn a
language, many teachers try to implement it in their teaching and learning process. As
considered by Paul Davies and Eric Pearses in Hunter (2009) that it is probably the
approach most used by trained language teachers today (p. 16). This approach proposes that
fluency is primarily concerned whereas accuracy is secondary (Chung). Thus, students should
be encouraged not to worry too much to make mistake as long as they can communicate well.
On the contrary, some teachers, including the writer, assume that they still need to teach
grammar in the class. Thornbury in Ana &Ratminingsih (2012) mentions grammar as a
sentence-making machine for its essential role to make appropriate sentences. If one uses
incorrect grammatical pattern, there might be a misinterpretation in the language, or even the
sentence becomes meaningless. In other words, students will not communicate properly if
they do not have adequate knowledge of grammar.
Another reason that grammar should be taught in the classroom is national examination.
Students in Indonesian high school are obligated to learn English at school and at the end of
their stages, they have to face national examination with some grammar problems to solve.
This fact forces teachers to still concern about grammar in their teaching.
English tenses are the most basic grammar that should be mastered by the learners though
they think that this -changing of a verb due to different adverb of a time- is very difficult.
Based on writers interview and observation on her high school, students still make mistake
in using appropriate forms of verb in simple tenses (simple present tense, simple past tense,
and simple future tense). Usually they use bare verb in those simple tenses. The study of

Cahir (2011) about problems in teaching tenses to Turkish learners found that the issue arises
because of mother tongue interference and the lack of linguistic background. Moreover, the
study of Baseed (2013) stated that when the mother tongue and English are not from the same
linguistic family, learners are going to face more difficulty due to many differences. The
difference between Bahasa Indonesia and English can be seen in table 1



Dia pergi ke pasar setiap hari senin

He goes to a market on


Dia (telah) pergi ke pasar senin


He went to a market last



Dia (akan) pergi ke pasar senin


He will go to a market next


Table 1. the different between English and Bahasa Indonesia sentences

In Bahasa Indonesia, we use the same form of verb in various times (whether it happens
routinely, happened in the past, or later in the past). Although we can use the verb telah in
simple past tense and akan in simple future tense, it is still acceptable to just use only the
verb in Bahasa Indonesia. Whereas in English, the verbs change based on the time those
activities happen.
Accordingly, teacher should find some fun ways to assist students learning English tenses.
One of joyful activities is playing a game by using Tebrica (Tenses Bridge Cards)
Traditionally, games are used as warm-up activities at the beginning of the class, fill-ins when
there is extra time near the end of class or as an occasional bit of spice stirred into the lesson
to add variety. All these are fine, but actually the use of game can go beyond it. Nowadays,
games are designed to teach students about a certain subject, expand concept, reinforce
development, understand a historical event or culture, or assist them in learning a skill as they
play (Trelles and Yanzaguano, 2011). Learning through games can accelerate students
motivation and achievement since students are enthusiastic about game. A game can be a
marvelous learning tool if the teacher is well prepared with the game. When the instruction

and the rule are understood by students, a game can accelerate students motivation and
One of easy to prepared and easy to play games is playing card. There are million kinds of
card games proposed for language learning but the writer chooses a bridge game to assist
tenses learning as a follow up of wulandari et al (2007) study. In their study they also used
some flashcards with bridge game rule to teach classification in biology class. The result
shows that this kind of game can enhance students motivation and achievement in
classification. On the same line, Rosdiana et al (2012) also found that PBCG (practice and
bridge card games) to increase students achievement in their study.
Based on the two studies above, the writer proposes a card game by using bridge game rule.
Since this game aims to teach English tenses, the cards played are modified as TEBRICA to
help students learn about English tenses easily.
Tebrica (Tenses Bridge Cards) is a set of 5x8 cm flashcards with a word or a phrase printed
on it. It is called tebrica since the words should be combined to make some meaningful and
grammatical sentences by applying the rule of bridge game. This flashcards can be printed in
any kind of thick paper, while in this case I use some glossy paper. There are 40 cards in a set
of tebrica. 10 cards are nouns which later functions as subject in the game. Another 10 are
verbs in various forms (past, present, and future). the third 10 are another nouns functions as
object. The rest 10 are adverb of time.
An example of a set of tebrica can be seen in appendix 1.
Bridge game by using tebrica can be played by using these two rules
Play in a group of 4
One member mix the card & distribute 10 cards to others and himself
The one who distribute put subject. Then his clockwise side member put relevant
verb with the subject. Next object then adverb of time.
If the member doesnt have a required flashcard he can pass his turn
The one who put adverb of time then put any card (for example object).
On the next turn, the member can put the closest category (either verb or adverb of
The winner is the one who doesnt have any card anymore
Play in a group of 4
One member mix the card & distribute 4 cards to others and himself. The rest cards
are placed on the table
The one who distribute take a card and put another card. So does his clockwise
They have to make a meaningful and grammatical sentences by combining 4 cards

The winner is the one who make the most sentences

Either playing with rule 1 or rule 2, members should use appropriate flashcards. If they make
mistake their points is decreased
In conclusion, teachers should still teach grammar although the goal of the learning process is
to communicate in English since grammar is sentence-making machine. Some fun activities
to teach should be conducted to motivate and enhance students achievement. Playing bridge
by using Tebrica can be a solution.
Finally, it is suggested that teacher modify the words/phrases in the cards based on the tenses
their students are learning. Besides, follow up studies regarding to tenses bridge game can be
(1) Al-Mekhlafi, A.M and Nagaratnam, R.P. (2011). Difficulties in Teaching and
Learning Grammar in an EFL context. International Journal of Instruction, 4(2):6992
(2) Ana, I.K.T.A and Ratminingsih, N.M. (2012). International Journal for CrossDisciplinary Subjects in Education (IJCDSE), 2(2): 998-1004
(3) Aqel, I.M. (2013) The Effect of Using Grammar-Translation Method on Acquiring
English as A Foreign Language. International Journal of Asian Social Science,
(4) Basaeed, E.A.O (2011) An approach for Teaching English Language Grammar to
Arab Young Learners. IOSR Journal of Research and Method in Education (IOSRJRME), 1(2):20-30
(5) Cakir, I (2011). Problems in Teaching Tenses to Turkish Learners. Theory and
Practice in Language studies, 1(2):123-127
(6) Chung, Siaw-Fong , A Communicative Approach To Teaching Grammar: Theory And
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achievement in English language for the primary stage. Retrieved from
(9) Rosdiana, D.S, Adi.D.S, and Suhaerah L. (2012). Penerapan model pembelajaran
Kooperatif tipe PBCG (practice and bridge card games) dalam meningkatkan hasil
belajar siswa pada sub konsepsistem indra manusia di kelas XI. Retrieved from

Santoso, A.M. Setyowati,E . Budiretnani D.A. and Nurmilawati, M. (2009)
Green Education in Bridge Card Game: Alternatif Metode Pembelajaran Peserta Didik
kelas 4 Sekolah Dasar pada pokok bahasan saling ketergantungan antar Makhluk
Hidup dengan Lingkungannya. Makalah disampaikan pada seminar nasional IX
pendidikan Biologi FKIP UNS
(11) Trelles, R V, and Yanzaguano, S. (2011). Teaching Simple Present Tense through
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