Monday, December 1, 2008

Formulating Questions

So I think that one of the biggest problems my students have is formulating questions. They're really pretty decent at answering the basics, like:

"What's your name?"
"Where are you from?"
"What's your favorite_____?"

But once that question is finished, they have no tools for asking a follow-up question. And English conversation, if one can't ask appropriate questions is just kind of awkward and not really a conversation at all. This was kind of a break-through for me and I can't quite believe it took me so long to catch onto this weakness of Korean students.

So, some things I do in order to help my students become better at asking questions:

1. While I still do the question/answer in partners thing almost every class, I get the student who is asking the question to listen to the answer and then ask an appropriate follow-up question. It's helpful to do a couple examples and write the "5 W's + how" on the board for them to refer to if they get stuck. Example:

A. What's something you want to achieve in the next 5 years? (written on the board)
B. I want to finish school and get a good job.
A. What kind of job do you want? ....or.... Where do you want to work?

2. Books often have survey type activities. Like mingling with your fellow students and find someone who can drive a car, or could read at age 4, etc, etc. The book often does not leave space for a follow-up question. When this is the case, I will make up my own worksheets with a column for "one more ?"

3. To help them figure out questions, I will sometimes write the answer on the board for a common conversational idea for the topic we are studying. And then we figure out the question together, using hints from the answer.

How do you move beyond the single question/single answer in your classroom?

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