I remember the times in my teaching career when I dreaded teaching questions. I especially hated the questions in the past simple tense. After my explanation, students got confused and they often failed to produce even the most basic questions.
Fortunately, the situation has changed. Nowadays, I look forward to teaching this grammar. I have developed a set of activities which help my students learn the grammar easily and they form the questions correctly and without thinking much about it.
In this post, I would like to share with you the activities which work very well for me and my classes. You will find a great original rap with comprehension questions, and a simple video called Grammar Point, where the grammar is explained and practised. I hope you will find this post useful.
Questions in the past tense – RAP
As you can see the worksheet contains five copies of the same worksheet. Print it out and cut it into five pieces. Play the Rap song at least twice and ask the students to write their answers to the questions. Explain that it is enough to write just one word.
Once I check the students’ answers, I always ask my students to rap along and learn the poem by heart. It is not difficult.
To get the pronunciation correct, students can copy the rap or they can follow the recording in American English, which you can hear below:
(Recorded by Christie Baarns. You can order her services at https://www.fiverr.com/christiebaarns/record-a-pro-voice-over?funnel=636d1dd1-8a9e-4ea1-8178-093ac3d4002b She provides great services.)
I stop the video after the explanation and I hand out the following infographic which explains the grammar and I clarify the grammar in students’ MT, if necessary.
Once, I am sure that the students understand the grammar, I play the rest of the recording. There is a grammar challenge. Students hear a sentence but part of the sentence is difficult to hear. Their task is to ask about the missing information. The video provides 7 seconds for their answers. Then they will hear the correct answer.
Questions in the past tense – Speaking
Once elementary students master forming questions in the present simple tense, their communicative ability grows by hundreds of percent. Students then can ask nearly about anything, and all of a sudden they can communicate meaningfully. However, for many teachers the questions are a nightmare because only a few students do really learn to form the questions.
To help you and your students I will share a set of activities I have used and which worked really well in my classes. In this post you can find an infographic, a video drill, a speaking activity, two games and an online quiz.
Questions in present simple tense – infographic
[showmyads] Remind your students that the word order in English is given (SVOMPT) and that they have to follow it. To form a question they need to add the words DO or DOES at the beginning and a question mark at the end.
To form the short answers students have to start with YES or NO, the pronoun representing the subject from the question and DO, DOES, DON’T or DOESN’T. You can tell your students that the word which was at the beginning of the question appears at the end of the answer.
You can see my explanation of the process in the following video:
The following quiz can help your students practise the short answers either at school or at home. The quiz consists of two parts. In the first part, students should match the questions and answers. In the second part, students have to write the short answers. The students will be rewarded with a game after each part of the quiz they pass. The quiz is in HTML5, so it will play on all desktops and mobile devices.
Questions in present simple tense – speaking activity
[showmyads] One of the students chooses a picture and the others form questions about the pictures. Their task is to ask YES/NO questions in such a way to find out which picture their partner is thinking about.
Questions in present simple tense – question words
Start with the following drill. On the first slide students listen and repeat the words. From the second slide on, they have to produce the question words before the native speaker says them. Play the video at least twice.
Now, hand out the following worksheet and ask the students to complete the first exercise with the question words
Questions in present simple tense – WH questions
Questions in present simple tense – games
The first game is called Penalty Shootout. In this game you should choose the correct question and then try to score a goal. Good luck.
As the game is in Flash, it will only play on desktop computers.
The second game is in Flash too, and it will play only on desktop computers. It is called En Garde, and your task is to choose the correct option and then stop the circle as close to the centre of the target as possible. Enjoy.
It is really important that students learn to form questions in the past simple tense. If they don’t, they won’t be able to ask about the things that happened in the past. And as most conversations deal with the things that already happened it is vital to be able to ask about the details they are interested in.
In this post I would like to help you teach your students form questions in the past simple tense using the auxiliary DID. This post will not deal with the verb TO BE in the past tense. You can find a post on the verb TO BE in questions here.
[showmyads] You will find here two videos, an infographic and several interactive exercises. I hope you like it.
First play the video and ask the students to watch and say the question words – best before they see them on the screen.
Then, cut the following worksheet into five stripes and ask the students to write the appropriate question words there.
Now you can move to forming questions in the past simple tense.
Forming questions in past tense – explanation
If you use the following infographic ask the students to fold the paper, so they can see only the last three rectangles.
To form a question in the past tense, just add DID at the beginning of the sentence and put the verb into its basic form. If you want to get a more complex answer, put a question word at the beginning. And there you are. Now you can form questions in the past simple tense.
Here you can see a video on how to form questions in the past simple tense.
Forming questions in Past simple tense – games
Questions with the verbs WAS and WERE are among the most common in English. Therefore it is vital for students to learn these questions well. They have to be able to form them, understand them and answer them.
To help you teach these types of questions, I have included the following activities in this post: an infographic explaining the grammar, a worksheet, a motivational song, a memory quiz and an online quiz. I hope you will find these useful and that your students will master questions with the verbs WAS and WERE.
Basic grammar rules – infographic
Display the following infographic to your students and explain that questions with WAS and WERE usually start with these words. Elicit that you can add a WH word in front of them.
Basic grammar rules – worksheet
I try to teach the grammar using a topic that the students are interested in. This time I have chosen the topic Selfies.
Start the lesson with the following song and ask the students to complete the lyrics in the first exercise in the worksheet.
Then play the video for the students and ask them to check their answers.
In the second activity, they should work in pairs and discuss the questions about selfies. If you happen to have a group whose English is not very good, have the students ask you the questions. That way you can demonstrate the way they should answer, and at the same time you can clear up the meaning of the questions.
Now ask the students to put the worksheets away and play the following video:
When the video finishes, ask your students to answer the questions as well as they can. Ask them to answer in full. Once they finish this task, tell them to check their answers and count 1 point for each correct YES or NO and 2 points if they gave a full answer (like, Yes, she was.)
Find out the winner and congratulate them.
Play the video again and ask the students to write their own questions for the pictures.
Ask them to work in pairs and to ask and answer their own questions.
In the last exercise, students work in pairs and give true answers to the questions.
Basic grammar rules – online quiz
The following online quiz contains a lot of different tasks which the students can do either as homework or at school. The quiz is in HTML5 and it will play on all digital devices.
Basic grammar rules – links
There are some great activities for learning and practising WAS and WERE at the British Council site.
Recently I have felt that my lessons are not language rich. And that is something no EFL teacher is happy about.
For example, I have been teaching questions to my fourth graders. We learnt all the vocabulary and grammar, but when I asked my students the questions, they were not able to answer. They did not understand the questions even though they knew all the words and grammar.
In this post, I provide a series of entertaining activities in which students can practise and come to understand simple questions.
First, teach the following vocabulary. Read the words aloud and ask your students to repeat them. Then ask them to memorise the words. Give them only three minutes for this. Then ask the students to cover the words inside the circle and write the words in the outer boxes.
Do not forget to explain the phrase “the biggest” as there is no picture for this word.
Memory test game
Ask the students to take a piece of paper and a pen. Play the following video and ask them to answer all the questions. They should answer them as simply as possible.
Ask the students to check their answers at the end of the video. Find out who remembered the most in your class and reward them.
The memory game
Now tell the students that you will play the same game, but this time they have to put the words in the questions into the correct order first. They will get one point for each correct question and one for each correct answer. The picture will show for only 5 seconds, but give the students enough time to write their questions and answers on a piece of paper.
Display the pictures at the end, and ask your students to write their own questions. Then ask them to work in pairs and ask their partner the questions.
When students start to learn English as a second language, there is a set of basic questions in English they need to master. All language courses start with these questions, but many people struggle to learn them. It is necessary to learn these by heart. However, you also need to be able to vary them a bit.
To help you teach or learn these questions I have devised the following activities: a mind map showing the basic questions for students of English as a second language, a worksheet with several communicative and drilling exercises, a song to help in memorising the questions and an online quiz. If you like the activities, please do not hesitate to comment below.
Basic question – song
I love starting lessons with something interesting. Students like songs, so I start the lesson with a simple song containing all the basic questions students of English as a second language need to learn.
Ask the students to listen to the song and complete the following worksheet:
Song lyrics fill-in
Play the song twice and then play the song on a whiteboard and ask the students to check their answers.
Basic question – mind map
Ask the students to have a look at this mind map and deduce the meaning of the questions – using the lyrics and the mind map.
Ask the students to work in pairs and ask each other these questions.
Basic question – worksheet
The following worksheet contains several activities. First ask the students to find the questions for the fields a-g (students should only write the letters next to the questions below). Check their answers and tell them to ask you the questions and complete the table with your answers.
Ask them to find the questions for fields 1-7. Check their answers. (It is best to display the correct answers for both groups).
Have your students work in pairs (worksheet A and worksheet B). Ask them to ask the questions and complete their worksheet.
The next task is pure text manipulation. The students should fill in the missing words.
In the third exercise, students should put the words into the correct order to form questions.
In the fourth exercise students are given the answers, and have to write the questions.
In the last exercise students should write the questions using different pronouns.
Basic question – online quiz
In the following online quiz the students should first put the words into the correct order to make questions.
Then they should complete the questions. The online quiz is in HTML5 so it will work on all mobile devices. Students can practise wherever they like.
The second online quiz is in Flash and will play only on desktops. The aim of the game is to choose the correct question and then hit the opponent.
Basic questions – download
More often than not I teach in classrooms with no internet connection, so I realize that it is important to be able to use the activities offline too. You can download the online quiz, the game, and the picture here and use them offline.
Asking questions is one of the most important functions of a language. Making questions in English is quite easy, but students still need to understand the basics. I have tried to put all the basic rules into a mind map. Then I have come up with a story about question formation and several games to practice the grammar. I hope that now the students will be able to form the questions correctly.
Questions – Mind map
Display or print out the following mind map for all the students and explain that each question can start with a WH word followed by DO, DOES or DID. It might be a good idea to ask the students to name or describe the columns in their own words.
Explaining grammar using the words like auxiliary, verb and subject might be a precise description of the grammar but it is very hard for students to understand. Moreover, people remember stories better than any explanation. And that is why I have created the following story to help my students use the auxiliaries correctly:
Once upon a time there was a land called Trainglish (train and English). And there were only SVOMPT trains with affirmative sentences. And in these trains V cars were the most important and most beautiful ones.
But one day the Great Constructor created an auxiliary train “DO”. But the “DO” car did not want to be just an ordinary train. He was very proud and selfish and he wanted to be the most important train in the world. So he started QUESTION trains. And as he was so big-headed he had to ride at the beginning of these trains. And as the other cars did not protest, he wanted more.
First he brought his family DOES and DID. Then he brought WH cars and they all drove at the beginning of each Question train. But it was not enough for him. He still wanted more. And thus he decided that no car can be more handsome than he.
“All the other cars have to be simple,” he announced. And that is why the V car lost all its endings and forms and it has be only in a simple form in Question Trains.
“And all the verbs agreed?”
“No, there was one that refused. It was the BE car. And ever since WAS, IS, ARE and WERE cars ride at the beginning of their Question trains. They allow only WH cars to join them.”
Questions – Quizzes and games
There are three quizzes and games to help the students remember the grammar. In the first HTML5 quiz you should put the words into the correct order to create questions. At the end of the quiz there is the game called Angry Finches.
The second quiz is again in HTML5. However this time, your task is to write the question to ask about the missing information. At the end of the quiz there is the game called Tower Defence.
The last game is in Flash and therefore it will play only on your desktop. You have to choose the correct option and then you should hit your opponent. Good luck.
Our most popular post is about questions with HOW. There is another post on all the WH question words. In this post I would like to deal with the questions starting with the word WHAT. To help you with this grammar there is a mind map and two games.
Questions with the word WHAT – mind map
The mind map shows the most frequent usages of the word WHAT in questions. What is most frequently followed by IS/ARE. Another possibility is, that it is followed by a NOUN. The most common nouns after the word WHAT are colour, kind of, sort of and time. And the third option is that the word WHAT is followed by DO/DID.
There are three set phrases which you should learn by heart: What happened? What is he like? and What does she look like?
The mind map clearly shows the usage of the word WHAT and it is designed in such a way that it can be used as a worksheet too. Your task is to write 10 correct questions starting with WHAT there.
Questions with the word WHAT – games
The first quiz and game in one has been designed in HTML5 so you can play it on any mobile device or a computer. Your task is to answer the quiz questions and if you pass the quiz, the game Word boggle is waiting for you. Your task is to find in 30 seconds as many words as possible. The longer the word the more points you get. At the end you can share your score on Facebook or here in the comments section. Good luck.
If you are using a mobile phone click here, to see it on the full screen.
The second game is in flash and it will play only on desktops. It is called Penalty and your task is to answer the questions and score. Could you be a professional footballer?? 🙂