Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Please Phrase It As a Question

Think about the game show "Jeopardy."  The contestants read the "answer" on a screen. To make it more challenging, though, they then have to form the question that fits it.  Forming questions in English can sometimes trip up and discourage learners. Practicing this skill can take the form of a fun game I saw in the website Dave's ESL Cafe.  The site has games and other resources for teachers and tutors who want to swap ideas that have worked for them.

Describing a game called "Questioning the Teacher," Ankara-based ESL instructor Burcu Tunca begins, "Students are always curious about their teachers and each other, so this can be played in pairs or between class and the teacher. It is a good icebreaker both for children and adults and helps students to speak."  
To begin, write some answers related to your life on the whiteboard or on paper.  I, for instance, might write, 
Gary Fisher
and so on. My student would then have to guess what the right question is. "Is 11 your child's age?"  No.  "What is your shoe size?"  Yes, it's eleven! Next question.  "Who was that chess champion in the early 70s?" No, that was Bobby.  "What kind of bike do you ride?"  Yes!.   "What is your favorite seafood?"  You could then have your learner try to write some answers for you to think up questions for. 
Inverting the question-answer format could make for a fun, low-inhibition activity.  Give it a try.

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