Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Forming Questions

A tutor asked me a question about asking questions today. That concept seemed rather metaphysical, so I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what she said:

From: Lauren Meyers

Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:43 PM

Hi Brian,

Things have been going great with Ali. He's so smart and so motivated… One thing he said he would like to work on is posing questions (in English). The format is confusing to him because of his French background - where all you need to do to form a question is use intonation.

Do you have any books in your resource library that might have some guidance?

Thanks!, Lauren


Very glad to read you're having a good experience. Forming questions—a very important topic. Most English questions are formed by inverting the subject-verb order of a helping verb. For instance, when you change the declarative sentence, "John has a long moustache" into a yes-no question and it becomes, " Does John have a long moustache?"

Since the helping verb is to do in many questions (and negative statements), you may want to start with a review of how the verb conjugates in English: I do, You do, he/she does (I digress: that word is pronounced “duzz” for no reason I can figure. Why isn’t it dos, pronounced “dooze?”)

IN sentences with the verb to be you invert that verb with the subject: "Pam is our sales rep. à Is Pam our sales rep?”

The book tutors receive in training, Side By Side, has some exercises in chapter 5. They cover the simplest questions, e.g. "Is Tom tall? Do you go to Stanley's restaurant on Tuesdays?" Chapter ten has some more exercises in this area. Otherwise, check out any grammar textbook in English. The table of contents is the place to start. Look for a chapter that includes “yes/no questions” or the like.

Here's another thought: use the other book you got in training, English for Everyday Activities for a substitution drill exercise. Take a page where all the verbs are in simple present tense, for instance page 16 and read all the sentences around the activity of Making Breakfast. After reading them all, ask him to practice transforming them into questions. So, "Pam pours some cereal" --> "Does Pam pour some cereal?" "She pours in some milk… -->Does she pour in some milk?" "..and sprinkles some sugar." -->Does she sprinkle?"

That’s all for now. Coming at you next week: a post on health literacy.

1 comment:

mada said...

thanks a lot for your topic