How To Build Questions

To build questions in English, learners don’t need a supernatural power. There is a well-established structure, and this structure must almost always be followed. As easy as pie!

Still, for our young learners, like Flyers, this turns to be one of the hardest things, even more challenging than learning the irregular verbs. Asking questions correctly seems to be the highest hurdle, and few are able to jump over it with little effort and land successfully on the other side. What is this triggered by?

It looks like the auxiliary verbs are the ones to blame. They are not many, though, be, do and have; however, to keep in mind which one goes with a certain tense, in which form the main verb is used, infinitive, present participle or past participle, and not to mention that given the subject, mainly he, she or it, the auxiliary verb might undergo some changes, all these together are often far too much for a young flyer. 

To help our young learners of English in their A2 journey is our number one goal. No matter the peculiarities of the English language, we want them to enjoy every single bit of it. For this reason, we are in continuous search of teaching ideas and learning techniques. Our personal ESL library, with every year, looks like a magic hat. There is anything our English learners need. And this is wonderful!

Revenons à nos moutons! Let’s get back to the point! How to learn to build questions in English.

This matter has been in the limelight in two of my previous blog posts:

  1. Building Time! Building What? Let’s Build Questions!
  2. How To Answer Questions With Short Answers.

In the latest, which focuses on teaching learners how to answer correctly, a game was mentioned, the QUASM ESL activity. So, without any delay, let’s see what this is about.

Form questions

The QUASM game

QUASM, as you already know, stands for:

Question word

Auxiliary verb

Subject

Main verb

Using this formula, we can form well-built questions. Today’s activity will help young learners identify the four above-mentioned parts and arrange them in order. This structure will help them to easily build questions in English. 

Given the A2 grammar syllabus, the following structures have been chosen:

  1. Present simple
  2. Past simple
  3. Present continuous/progressive
  4. Past continuous/progressive
  5. Future simple and BE GOING TO
  6. Present perfect simple
  7. Modal verbs: CAN, SHOULD, MUST, COULD, SHALL

To play the QUASM game, download the PDF below. Cut the cards and keep them classified by colour in seven mini boxes or envelopes. Each pupil gets one of the envelopes and is asked to unscramble the five questions against the clock. This means, every time the game is played, everyone attempts to break his/her previous record, and to be the fastest in the group.

Imagine having as many spare domino pieces as cards in the game or any other plastic or wooden pieces so that we transfer the words onto them?! That would be awesome! 

Ask questions

Challenge time!

It’s time we put our young flyers of English ability of building questions to the test.

How many questions can you build?

Follow the example below:

TODAY, WE ARE HAPPILY LEARNING ENGLISH IN OUR CLASSROOM.

  1. When are you learning English? We are learning English today.
  2. What are you doing today? We are learning.
  3. What are you learning? We are learning English.
  4. How are you learning English? We are learning English happily.
  5. Where are you learning English? We are learning English in the classroom.
  6. Who is learning English today? We are learning English today.

In this example, we have formed questions in present continuous.

Now, it’s your turn! You can do it!

A. RIGHT NOW, MY FRIEND IS EXCITINGLY LISTENING TO ROCK MUSIC IN HIS ROOM.

  1. When is your  friend …?
  2. Who is …?
  3. How …?
  4. What …?
  5. What kind of music is …?
  6. Where …?

Present continuous/progressive:

  1. When is your  friend listening to rock music?
  2. Who is listening to music?
  3. How is your friend listening to music?
  4. What is your friend doing?
  5. What kind of music is your friend listening to?
  6. Where is your friend listening to music?

B. EVERY WEEK, IN THE AFTERNOON, HE HAS ENGLISH CLASSES IN A LANGUAGE SCHOOL.

  1. How often does he …?
  2. When …?
  3. Who has …?
  4. What …?
  5. What classes …?
  6. Where …?

Present simple:

  1. How often does he have English classes?
  2. When does he have English classes?
  3. Who has English classes?
  4. What does he do in the afternoon?
  5. What classes does he have in a language school?
  6. Where does he have English classes?

C. YESTERDAY I WENT TO LONDON BY PLANE TO VISIT THE BIG BEN AND THE LONDON EYE.

  1. When did you …?
  2. Who went …?
  3. What …?
  4. What …?
  5. How …?
  6. Why …?
  7. What …?

Past simple:

  1. When did you go to London?
  2. Who went to London?
  3. What did you do yesterday?
  4. What city did you go to yesterday? 
  5. How did you go to London?
  6. Why did you go to London?
  7. What did you visit in London?

D. LAST WEEKEND, MY SISTER AND I HAPPILY RODE OUR BICYCLES IN THE PARK BECAUSE THE WEATHER WAS GREAT.

Past simple:

  1. When did you ride your bicycles?
  2. Who rode their bicycles?
  3. What did you do in the park?
  4. How did you ride your bicycles?
  5. Where did you ride your bicycles?
  6. Why did you ride your bicycles?

E. LAST NIGHT, WHEN MY PARENTS CAME HOME, I WAS TALKING ON THE PHONE WITH MY GRANDPARENTS. 

Past simple and past continuous:

  1. When were you talking on the phone?
  2. Who came home?
  3. Where did your parents come to?
  4. Who was talking on the phone?
  5. Who were you talking on the phone with?

I hope these two activities focused on learning to build questions in English have helped our young Flyers to feel more confident to ask questions correctly.

What other activities do you organize in class and are worth doing? Feel free to share them with our English learning community!

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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