Last month, I wrote about a technique for communication in class called "What's New?" I got many letters of thanks, and a few of concern: How could I possibly teach the past tense before teaching the present tense?
The answer is, the past tense is simpler than the present tense. The affirmative form of the past tense is merely a vocabulary item. It is the most used form of the verb, and the form most heard in conversations (outside of grammar books for beginners). People ask about the past, people hear about things that happened more than things that are happening now. They tell or write stories that took place in the past.