The Past Perfect Continuous tense is also called the Past Perfect Progressive tense.
ESL and EFL students often have difficulty with this verb tense due to its lengthy construction and the fact that they don't often get the opportunity to practice.
Thorough Past Perfect Progressive lesson plans must include these three elements:
However, not all of these elements need to be included in one lesson, and in fact, it is best to present these over a few classes.
This page describes each of these components in greater detail to help teachers and tutors prepare the best lesson plans.
Past Perfect Continuous Conjugation
The Past Perfect Continuous/Past Perfect Progressive tense is constructed this way:
The conjugation is fairly simple because only the subject changes.
Here are some examples with the subject pronouns I, you, he/she/it, they and we.
Past Perfect Continuous Forms (five forms ESL/EFL students must learn)
Note: "Been" is sometimes added to the Short Answer form; e.g., Yes, I had been.
Past Perfect Continuous Function
The Past Perfect Continuous has two main functions.
ESL Student Challenges
ESL and EFL students often have trouble with this verb tense because it is usually one of the last tenses taught to students, so they often don't get enough practice with the tense. The other problem is that it takes a while to get used to the long construction of the verb tense ("subject + had been + present participle").
As with most English grammar verb tenses, practice and drills will help to reinforce the structure of the Past Perfect Continuous tense.
For a thorough discussion on how to teach verb tenses, see Teaching ESL Verb Tenses.
Azar's, Understanding and Using English Grammar is an excellent textbook for teaching the Past Perfect Continuous tense and all other verb tenses. I use it regularly with my students. It includes exercises and excellent explanations and is best for intermediate and advanced ESL/EFL learners.