I am trying to collect all the different ways there are to teach and learn irregular verbs, so as to identify the best.

These are the best ones I am aware of:

1. The Dictionary of Irregular Verbs with real Quotations www.almadreams.com

2. A fun board game to play in a class http://manyenglishes.blogspot.com/2007/12/teaching-irregular-verbs.html

3. http://www.verbbusters.com

4. Verb tennis http://www.eslcafe.com/idea/index.cgi?display:913435788-29269.txt

Are there other ways as good as these?
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There are only about 150 commonly used irregular verbs. Make a list of them, post them in the bathroom, and drill them until you can repeat them fast, accurately and sight unseen. That is as efficient as it can get. I'm not much for games unless my students are children.
I'm the unregistered person who posted the question. The fact is I find that each of these can serve in different circumstances.

Learning the verbs and their irregular past tenses is something anyone can do: it is just that each person has different methods of memorising, and the games certainly help to make that task less tedious, although as you say it very much depends on the people in your class (I find some adults are happy to play boardgames, but not all and it is a question of judgement).

But memorising them doesn't automatically translate into understanding them or using them correctly. I have been using the Dictionary of Irregular Verbs with Quotations for almost a year now and find that it really helps the students to understand the verbs, and approach them with less fear than before.

I'm keen to find more ways to help them learn, memorise, understand, and use these verbs with ease, because in my experience students cannot achieve fluency without overcoming the irregular verb barrier.
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Trying to 'understand or use correctly' irregular verbs as distinct from regular verbs is an error in effort. There is nothing special to understand about them-- native speakers certainly do not. Considering them a 'barrier' is also an unhelpful approach-- there is no further problem than memorizing the unusual spellings of a couple of hundred verb forms-- in a language that is awash in unusual spellings.

Minimum time and concentration should be directed to these verbs directly-- it creates a self-generating problem for already self-conscious students.
Considering them a barrier is not really a matter of choice. It is a fact. In the same way that if you speak language A and want to communicate with a person who speaks language B, then the lack of knowledge of language B is a barrier to your communication with that person. Similarly, not knowing English irregular verbs is a barrier to fluency in English. However, if you object to the word "barrier", then I am happy to use the term "hurdle" which hands power back to the student aiming to jump over it.

I do agree with you that students should not become obsessed with irregular verbs, in the same way that I think they should not become obsessed with any aspect of the language. I can also agree with you that trying to understand "irregularities" is in many ways futile. Perhaps I should have said "accept" them. The point is that many students set out baffled by them and wanting to understand them - I have seen several questions in online forums asking what is the rule for irregular verbs!

I don't think, however, that minimum time devoted to them is the right approach. For some it may be, but it depends on the student and each person has a preferred method to memorise things. Some will memorise lists, but while that allows them to answer e.g. multiple choice questions easily and quickly, it doesn't necessarily make them more at ease in using them. The objective is surely to help them use the irregular verbs with confidence. I have reached the conclusion, and my own experience shows, that many prefer to see these verbs in context. They retain them much better that way and are more confident about using them later on. That's why sometimes a game is suitable, sometimes simple lists, and sometimes something more comprehensive is required.

What I definitely do not agree with is that it is a mistake for students to try to use irregular verbs correctly. Are you sure that is what you meant?
I think language is better learned by real contact with real language than through a quasi-mathematical approach with drills. It seems to me that mistakes are normal in learning, and there is no need to stress students with artificial exercises to master. Personally, I never got a lot out of such drills when I learned foreign languages. Emotion: sad
If the students are gradually brought into contact with the irregularities of language (whether verbs or other elements), I think they do just as well or better than if a whole batch of irregularities are dropped on them at once with the injunction to "Learn this!"
Ideally, an acquaintance with certain adjective forms in conversational settings (well done, thoughtful, lost dog, newly fallen snow, a poorly fed parakeet kept hidden in a stolen cage!), originally learned by rote, can set up the desired "ho-hum" reaction to past participles like done, thought, lost, etc. (I think that sometimes teachers are more panicked by irregularities than students, and teacher panic spreads to the students -- especially once the difficulties are officially recognized in the form of special drills! "Whoa! This is SO difficult we have to spend hours slaving away at it!" Emotion: smile )
Other irregularities, preferably related by semantics rather than by grammar or morphology, can also be learned by rote at first: came and went, bought it, brought it home, wore it once, and took it back (or threw it out), had (s.o.) over - came over - drove over, sat down and stood up, sat down and shut up, stood up and spoke out, fell down and got (back) up, put it on and took it off, made a choice - chose, had a meeting - met, held a sale - sold, took the lead - led, took a drive - drove, got some sleep - slept, had a fight - fought, etc. There are any number of dialogs you can construct that emphasize the use of such forms, and any number of topics for free conversation which will naturally lead to the use of such forms.
Note that many irregular past participles occur after got. This might be a factor you can use to your advantage in presenting some of the irregular forms. got hurt, burnt, struck by lightening, stung by a bee, stuck in traffic, bitten by a dog, left behind, paid, ...
Students who "want to understand" irregular verbs probably just want to see them grouped in some logical way -- either because it helps them to memorize them that way, or purely out of intellectual curiosity. Just showing them the three basic groups is often enough: Those with t or d endings in both the past and the past participle; those with ng, nk, or g endings; those with -en past participles.
But I think what you really want is better exercises to drill these verbs, that is, exercises that more efficiently drum in the forms and consistently "reduce student error rates", and I'm afraid I can't help you with all that "learning technology" stuff. The ones you've found seem to do the job, and I'm not aware of any "magic bullet" that addresses that goal perfectly. Emotion: smile

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Thanks CJ, I think we are actually saying the same thing. It works best when students see the verbs in context. That's when I use the Dictionary of Irregular Verbs because the quotations provide various different contexts, all of which are real, they are often amusing or fascinating and always interesting, so students tend to forget they are learning irregular verbs, and that's the most effective way really! But this book is for intermediate and advanced levels. It wouldn't suit for lower levels. For other levels the games are useful. And when it comes to revising or finding an answer quickly then clearly verbbusters and lists are quite effective. This set of tools I'm using is working very well and perhaps I had the answer to my question already when I started this discussion!
KKEESimilarly, not knowing English irregular verbs is a barrier to fluency in English.
It's not a barrier to fluency, and it's not an impediment to communication. My kids are 3 and 5, completely fluent in English, but, like many kids of their age, frequently regularise verbs, both in English and their mother tongue.
Irregularities are just that, irregular. There are no rules. The only way to learn them is through acquisition. Each time you learn one all you have learned is just one. Classroom time is a limited resource and would be better spent learning rules that can be applied in a wide range of situtations, rather than wasted teaching one-off non-rules which will be acquired anyway through day to day passive contact with the language.
You can take advantage of the similarities in teaching irregular verbs.

bend - bent
build - built
lend - lent
send - sent
spend - spent

sell -sold
tell - told


You can find a complete list in some grammars. For example, in A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.
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