I have been doing a lot of thinking regarding the schedule of introducing different verb tenses and here is what I am almost completely convinced of: The past should be introduced almost immediately and simultaneously with the present.
IF we are truly using a communicative approach you will find that your students have a real need to use the past from the very beginning. Which is why, I have complete beginners learning the past right now. How do we do this?
Well, with film, with music, and with storytelling.
For example: Watch the following video. (first with no sound)
What did you see? What did your peers see?
Then play the video again, but this time with sound. Close your eyes and listen to the music.
What did you hear? What did your peers hear?
How did you feel when you watched the movie?
Did it make want to travel?