Educators use questions to check on the successful transfer of knowledge, but students must learn to find pleasure in discovering knowledge. One way to do this is by using fun question activities in the latter stages of a structured lesson. Such activities make the class more enjoyable, but also serve to embed the successful transfer of targeted learning.
WH Questions Activities
The following activities serve as examples of how teachers could introduce questions with classroom activities.
Dress-up and fashion simulation games are very popular among especially schoolgirls, not forgetting Nintendo’s ‘Button, Button Up’ party game, could have inspired this game. Bring some large men’s shirts to class to use for this question activity, depending on the size of the class. Call students representing two or more groups to the front of the class. Their groups must then ask them questions. After each correct answer to a question, they can do up one button on their shirts. The first one student done wins a point for their team. The teams can then switch and let opposing groups ask the questions.
For this question activity, I use a soft type of ball that can be thrown without causing injury or chaos in the classroom. First, the students must write 10 questions to ask their partners. The students then stand in line opposite their partners. They then start to question each other. Those first to answer correctly and catch the ball three times may sit down until only the losing pair are standing. To make the game more interesting, let pairs change their questions with other pairs.
Have a few topics in mind, and complement each topic with a few simple questions (like these).
Example Topic: Sports
What sports do you play?
What sports do you like to watch?
Who is your favorite athlete?
Example Questions: Movies and TV Shows
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite genre of TV show?
‘Alibi’ is a very popular ESL speaking game, especially with upper-intermediate or advanced students.
This activity is for intermediate to advanced learners. Students must imagine a plausible crime in the school or in their community. For example, last night there was a bank robbery; or the school principal’s dog was kidnapped, and it’s up to the students to find the criminal.
Depending on class size, pick two, three, or four volunteers to act as the suspects. The suspects have to go outside the classroom and work on an alibi. Where were they? What did they do together? What was the weather like? If they were at a restaurant, what were they eating? They should discuss and decide on all the details they can think of. Their goal is to be the best liar they can be because the worst liar will be identified to be the criminal.
Meanwhile, place the class into the same number of groups as there are suspects. So, for example, if there are three suspects, create three groups in the class.
These groups have to think of questions they can ask the suspects on their alibis the previous night. Each group will interrogate one suspect at a time to decide who the main criminal is. The suspect that gives the worst answers will be identified as the criminal. So, even though none of the suspects did the crime, the game is about making up a story about what they were doing last night.
When the suspects return to class, and each one goes to a different group. The group’s members then take turns to ask the suspects questions. The suspects have to lie as best they can to seem convincing. After being interrogated for a couple of minutes, suspects switch to different groups. After all the groups have interviewed the suspects, they must decide who the worst liar is. That suspect will be chosen as the criminal.
Based on bluffing games and board games such as ‘Liar, Liar‘, students must see if they can bluff their partners. The partners ask each other a range of questions for a minute or two and have to lie every time.
Two Truths and a Lie (update due)
- Would you rather?
In this activity you think of something and write it on a piece of paper to be revealed at the end. The students then have to ask you any twenty questions to figure out what you had in mind. Select a specific category to make it easier for younger students because the purpose of the activity is for ESL students to gain confidence in asking smart questions in a fun way.
For example, the object or ‘thing’ you think of is in the zoo. Questions students can ask are, for example, “Is it big or small?” “What food does it eat?” “How many letters are in the name of it?” “Is it a mammal, a reptile or an insect?”
After a practice round, put students into groups to make sure that everybody gets a chance and make sure they don’t cheat by first writing the name of the object on a piece of paper. This game also works for advanced students where they can think more abstractly.
To win with Twenty Questions teach students to start with broad questions and gradually get more specific. Ask questions that have a 50/50 percent chance of the answer being ‘Yes’.
Job Interview Volley Questions
Practice this with a partner. You can never have too much experience in such a nervous encounter is good practice.
Once you’ve presented and practiced a few ‘ESL Question Volley Questions’, it’s time to volley.
All you need is a small ball, typically like a tennis ball or a squash ball. You can start the game out by having a student toss you the ball and ask you a relevant question. Answer it, then toss or hand the ball to the next student and ask the next related question. You want to encourage quick questions and answers from your students to give this a real-life scenario feel.
For added fun, you can always change up what you’re tossing around. For a few laughs, toss around a potato. If you’ve got space outside, play with a soccer ball or frisbee.
This fun ESL game involves the entire class and reinforces ESL skills. Your students will practice communication, learn about asking and answering questions, gain more confidence to speak, polish their grammar when speaking and develop those crucial listening skills as well.
List of WH Questions with Example Answers
- What is it? Answer: It’s a table.
- What color is your dress? Answer: It’s purple.
- What is your mom doing? Answer: She’s cooking in the kitchen.
- What do you think about the party? Answer: Well. It’s fun. I like the music best.
- What will happen if our team loses this time? Answer: We’ll be out of the competition.
- When will the train arrive? Answer: The train will arrive in 30 minutes.
- When does she get up? Answer: She gets up at 6 am.
- When did the party end? Answer: It ended before 8 pm.
- When are you going to visit James? Answer: I’m going to see him tomorrow.
- Where do you live? Answer: I live in Washington D.C.
- Where are you going? Answer: I’m going to the zoo.
- Where’s the coffee bar? Answer: It’s between the supermarket and the cinema.
- Where did you leave my jacket? Answer: I left it in my bedroom.
- Where have you been? Answer: I’ve been in the library reading books.
- Who’s this? Answer: She’s my new roommate.
- Who wants to be a scientist in the future? Answer: My sister does. I don’t.
- Who would you like to travel with? Answer: I would like to travel with my best friend, Kim.
- Who told you that secret? Answer: Jenny did. She told me everything.
- Who do you like the most in this class? Answer: I like Henry. He’s so friendly.
- Whom should we talk to? Answer: We should talk to the principal. She’s responsible for student issues.
- Whom did you see yesterday? Answer: I saw Kevin and his girlfriend.
- Whom would you like to interview? Answer: I would like to interview Mr.Patrick, the director.
- Whom do we have to contact? Answer: We have to contact the representative of that company.
- Whom did you meet in front of the building last week? Answer: That was Annie, my secretary.
- Whom do you know in this class? Answer: I only know Danny.
- Whom are you going to invite? Answer: I’m going to invite all of my classmates.
- With whom do you agree? Answer: I agree with Henry’s team.
- Which shirt do you like? Answer: I like the one with the big yellow star on it.
- Which color do you choose? Answer: I choose red.
- Which part do you like the most in this story? Answer: I love the 2nd part when the prince came and proposed to the princess.
- Which is the longest river in the world? Answer: That’s the Nile.
- Which one is yours? Answer: Mine is the biggest one.
- Whose jacket is this? Answer: It’s my mom’s.
- Whose birthday is today? Answer: It’s Jenny’s.
- Whose pencil is on the floor? Answer: That’s mine.
- Whose team is better? Answer: Will’s team is much better.
- Why don’t we visit him now? Answer: It’s a good idea.
- Why did you leave so early? Answer: Because I didn’t enjoy the party.
- Why do you think he loves you? Answer: Because he’s given me lots of chocolate on Valentine’s day.
- Why do people celebrate Thanksgiving? Answer: Because it’s a special day.
- Why can’t I go to the cinema now? Answer: Because you haven’t done your homework.
- Why are you so late? Answer: Sorry, teacher. I missed the bus.
- How’s the weather? Answer: It’s sunny and hot.
- How do you feel? Answer: I feel much better now.
- How did you know him? Answer: We were old friends.
- How’s your new job? Answer: It’s interesting. I enjoy it.
- How often do you go to the movie theater? Answer: I sometimes go there. I’m quite busy.
- How far is it from your house to school? Answer: Not too far. I walk to school every day.
- How much did it cost? Answer: It cost $4.
- How many people are there in your class? Answer: There are 30 of them.
- How come you lost the game? Answer: I couldn’t answer the first question well enough.
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