Please don’t say “OK?”


And especially don’t say “Do you understand?” or “Does everybody understand?” or, even worse (if that’s possible), “Does anybody not understand?


Following almost every other sentence with “OK?” is a mechanical teacher talking to itself. It serves absolutely no purpose other than to irritate and confuse the listener. The same is true of the abovementioned similar phrases.


There are real ways to test understanding, but they do not involve the above questions by the asking of which you do nothing but offload your responsibility onto your student—who is in no position to judge. How can s/he know? That’s YOUR job to find out!


Furthermore, nine times out of ten, face will prevent a student from answering “No” to “Do you understand?” in front of other students. So you get the “Yes” answer that you crave, but it means nothing.


So what’s wrong with saying “OK?” every few minutes? Or asking if a student understands? Is it better to ask students if they understand or to ask them what they understand? NOW you’re talkin’.

Written by Joe Essberger for January 2019
Joe Essberger is founder of and EnglishClub and has taught EFL in Europe and Asia.


  • Hank greenfield says:

    A phrase that I often use to put the onus on me is, “Did I make that clear?”

  • Ruth says:

    Thank you very much, Joe!

    Hugs from Argentina

  • Bijan says:

    Thanks a million.

    Best wishes,
    Bijan from the Persian Gulf

Leave a comment : TEFL Articles : Teacher Technique : Please don’t say “OK?”