Asking Questions Lesson Plan - Lower Levels

Businessman examining question mark in clouds
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Many beginning to lower intermediate students are do well expressing themselves in positive and negative sentences. However, they often run into problems when asking questions. This is due to a number of causes:

  • Teachers usually ask questions in class so students don't get enough practice.

  • Inversion of the auxiliary verb and subject can be especially tricky for many students.

  • Present simple and past simple require helping verbs whereas positive sentences do not.

  • Students are unsure of what they should ask.

  • Cultural interference such as the desire not to ask direct questions as it is considered impolite in a student's culture.

This simple lesson focuses specifically on the question form and helps students gain skill while switching tenses in the question form.

 

Aim: Improving speaking confidence when using question forms

Activity: Intensive auxiliary review followed by providing questions for given answers and student gap question exercises.

Level: Lower-intermediate

Outline:

  • Focus on auxiliary verb usage by making a number of statements in tenses the students are familiar with. Ask students to identify the auxiliary verb in each case.
  • Ask a student or students to explain the underlying scheme of the object question form (i.e., ? word Auxiliary Subject Verb). Have students give a number of examples in different tenses.
  • Distribute the worksheet to students in class. 
  • Focus on the use of time expressions as key to understanding correct tense usage with the gap fill exercise.
  • Ask students to complete the first exercise on their own.
  • Write a few sentences on the white board. Ask which questions might have elicited  this answer. For example: I usually take the subway to work. -> Possible questions: How do you get to work? How often do you take the subway to work. 
  • Split students up into pairs. The second exercise asks students to provide a suitable question for the response given. Each group should come up with possible questions.
  • Follow-up check of questions either by circulating through the student pairs or as a group.
  • Ask students to each take the second exercise (one for Student A the other for Student B) and complete the gaps by asking their partner for the missing information.
  • Solidify question forms by quickly playing a verb inversion game using the various tenses (i.e., Teacher: I live in the city. Student: Where do you live? etc.).
  • Practice some small talk focusing on basic questions.

Asking Questions Worksheet

Fill in the gap with the correct helping verb. Base your answers on the time expressions in each question.

  1. When ______ she usually leave for work in the morning?
  2. Where ______ they stay on vacation last summer?
  3. What _____ he doing for school at the moment?
  4. _____ you continue to study English next year?
  5. Who _____ you going to visit when you go to Greece next summer?
  6. How often _____ you usually go to the movies?
  7. When _____ you get up last Saturday?
  8. How long _____ she lived in your city?

Ask an appropriate question for the response

 

  • A steak, please.
  • Oh, I stayed at home and watched tv.
  • She is reading a book at the moment.
  • We are going to visit France.
  • I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
  • No, he is single.
  • For about 2 years.
  • I was washing up when he arrived.

Ask questions to fill the gaps with the missing information

Student A

Frank was born in ______ (where?) in 1977. He went to school in Buenos Aires for ______ (how long?) before moving to Denver. He misses _______ (what?), but he enjoys studying and living in Denver. In fact, he _____ (what?) in Denver for over 4 years. Currently, he _________ (what?) at the University of Colorado where he is going to receive his Bachelor of Science next ______ (when?). After he receives his degree, he is going to return to Buenos Aires to marry _____ (who?) and begin a career in research. Alice ______ (what?) at the University in Buenos Aires and is also going to receive ______ (what?) next May.

They met in _____ (where?) in 1995 while they were hiking together in the ______ (where?). They have been engaged for ________ (how long?).

Student B

Frank was born in Buenos Aires in ______ (when?). He went to school in _______ (where?) for 12 years before moving to ______ (where?). He misses living in Buenos Aires, but he enjoys ________ (what?) in Denver. In fact, he has lived in Denver for ______ (how long?). Currently, he is studying at the ______ (where?) where he is going to receive his _______ (what?) next June. After he receives his degree, he is going to return to _____ (where?) to marry his fiance Alice and begin a career in ______ (what?). Alice studies Art History at the ________ (where?) and is also going to receive a degree in Art History next _____ (when?). They met in Peru in _____ (when?) while they _______ (what?) together in the Andes. They have been engaged for three years.