I am teaching regular verbs and irregular verb usage to non-english speaking adult students. Although they are very intelligent students they are not confident in speaking or writing English.
My question is: How might I go about teaching the difference between regular and irregular verbs, so that they may know how to use verbs in the simple present, simple past, and future tenses?
I do not want to discourage them yet I do not want to belittle their intelligence.
There is no escape from memorizing the paradigms of the irregular verbs. I give my students a short list of the 100 most common/useful, and have them learn it by rote; I suggest that they post it in their bathrooms until they can rattle it off aloud to me: 'run-ran-run', 'come-came-come', etc. After that, the regular verbs are a snap.
Simple present is perhaps not the most useful tense to teach-- I would teach the present continuous first, if you are aiming for utility. With that, you can move to the 'be going to' future (also more common than the 'will' future) without adding a new form. And the present perfect should be taught soon also.
No doubt others have further advice for you. Enjoy!