How do I make questions easier for students?

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How do I make questions easier for students?

Unread postby Hubert » 23 May 2007, 14:21

Dear Lucy,

Do you have any ideas about how the following questions could be simplified so that understanding them is an easy thing for beginner and intermediate learners of English?

(i) What will the really well-organized household do when the tenants pay their contributions?, (ii) Have you ever lived in shared rental accommodation?, (iii) Do you know of anyone who has lived in this type of accommodation?, (iv) What did or do you or he/she think of this type of accommodation?, (v) Would you live in a place like that? Why/Why not?, (vi) Do you think this type of accommodation is suitable for young people, retired people, parents, people living away from home, etc..,? and (vii) Do you have any ideas for improving the situation described?' How do you think they could be simplified so that they can be understood by learners of all levels?'

Thanks,
Hubert.
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How do I make questions easier for students?

Unread postby Lucy » 27 May 2007, 20:06

Dear Hubert,

I have inserted my comments on how to simplify the questions for an intermediate learner. On the whole, they are suitable for students studying at that level.

(i) What will the really well-organized household do when the tenants pay their contributions?
An intermediate student should be able to understand the structure of this question but he/she might have problems understanding some vocabulary, i.e. the words household, tenants and contributions. This can be illustrated by replacing the difficult vocabulary:
What will he do when they pay their bill?
I hope you can see what I mean.
I’m guessing that this question is connected to the text you asked me about in a separate post; if this is the case, you’ll be teaching the words mentioned above and so there shouldn’t be a problem.

(ii) Have you ever lived in shared rental accommodation?
An intermediate student should be able to understand this question. The present perfect is not new at this level; again the only difficulty might be the words rental and accommodation. I repeat my comment from above about you pre-teaching the difficult vocabulary from the text. As you are pre-teaching it, it won’t cause any problems.

(iii) Do you know of anyone who has lived in this type of accommodation?
An intermediate student should be able to understand this question.

(iv) What did or do you or he/she think of this type of accommodation?,
To make this question simpler, I would simply write it out three times. What do you think of this type of accommodation? or
What did you think of this type of accommodation? or
What does he/she think of this type of accommodation?

(v) Would you live in a place like that? Why/Why not?
An intermediate student should be able to understand this question.

(vi) Do you think this type of accommodation is suitable for young people, retired people, parents, people living away from home, etc..,? An intermediate student should be able to understand this question. I think the only difficulty might be the word “suitable”. You will be able to judge whether your students know this word; if they don’t, I suggest you replace it with “good”.

(vii) Do you have any ideas for improving the situation described?'
An intermediate student should be able to understand this question.

I don’t recommend simplifying the questions above for use with beginner students. Firstly, I don’t think you can re-word these questions more simply without losing the meaning. Secondly, if you ask these questions to a beginner student, they won’t have the language required to reply; so, there is no point in asking them. If you really want to use the same text with beginner students, I suggest you change the activity that accompanies it entirely. I agree with using difficult texts with beginner students but I don’t agree with setting tasks that are above their level. It only leads to frustration and unachieved objectives.

Kind regards,

Lucy
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