Student or Learner
I was hoping somebody would offer me some advice.
I am en experienced TEFL teacher, in fact I am even a TEFL trainer for new TEFL teachers.
The honest truth is that i explain the difference between present perfect and present perfect continuous really badly. I know the difference well enough but I don't seem to get the point over well, I normally end up with some vacant faces!
Can anybody offer their advice in how they explain the difference well
This is really good question that has been answered before with a lot of detail. To provide a real simple but helpful answer, I would offer a few points I use in the classroom:
1) They are often interchangeable. You can say, "I have been living in Hong Kong for five years," and, "I have lived in Hong Kong for five years." (without intending any difference)
2) When teaching students the above example, ask them where the speaker lives now, based on the two different sentences, to highlight the subtle differences. Help them recognize that present perfect does not mean that the action is being done right now. The guy saying, "I have lived..." may or may not be living there now. The guy saying, "I have been living..." lives there now for sure.
3) A real significant difference is the idea of "how many times" vs. "how long."
Present perfect for how many times: I have eaten at McDonald's three times this week.
Present perfect continuous for how long: I have been eating at McDonald's for years.
Hope this helps!
As we progress in our careers, we understand more and more clearly the difference between continuous and non-continuous forms, and we can rattle off the explanations given in course books with no difficulty. However, with the present perfect, while there is sometimes a significant difference in meaning between the continuous and the non-continuous forms, there sometimes isn't. As M.Andrew said, they are sometimes interchangeable.
Once you can accept this, you'll stop trying to convince your trainees that there is always a significant difference. Then you can all relax, and try to see if there might be some subtle difference.