Building Time! Building What? Let’s Build Questions!

Our dearest young English-language learners, today I would like to reach out to you, our smart young question-masters. Your questions brighten up our life and help us reflect on matters we somehow and somewhere started to take for granted. What if I helped you become the English Question Master? Would you like to take the Speaking test in the A2 Flyers Cambridge exam with flying colours? Join me today and you’ll learn the trick!

Our starting point is the Speaking paper of the A2 Flyers exam. From its 4 parts, the 2nd is the one for which you need to practise answering questions with short answers and asking questions to get information. Let’s look at such a task. 

Remember that both you and the examiner have got missing information on the handout. So, first, the examiner will ask you about Helen’s party. You have got this information. You should look and answer. Then, you will ask the examiner questions about David’s birthday party. 

Building Time! Building What? Let's Build Questions! 1

David’s birthday party?

  1. Where / party?
  2. How many children?
  3. Start at 4.00 p.m. / 5.00 p.m.
  4. Eat / sandwiches?
  5. What children / doing?
  1. in the park
  2. 5
  3. 5.00 p.m.
  4. yes
  5. flying kites and playing football

Helen’s birthday party

  1. Where / party?
  2. How many children?
  3. Start at 4.00 p.m. / 5.00 p.m.?
  4. Eat / sandwiches?
  5. What children / doing?
  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?

David’s birthday party

  1. Where / party?
  2. How many children?
  3. Start at 4.00 p.m. / 5.00 p.m.
  4. Eat / sandwiches?
  5. What children / doing?
  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. ?
  4. ?
  5. ?

Helen’s birthday party

  1. Where / party?
  2. How many children?
  3. Start at 4.00 p.m. / 5.00 p.m.
  4. Eat / sandwiches?
  5. What children / doing?
  1. at her home
  2. 7
  3. 5.00 p.m.
  4. cake
  5. eating a cake and listening to music

The examiner will ask you the following types of questions about Helen’s party:

  • Wh-questions

“Where is Helen’s party?” “Her party is at her home.”

“How many children are going to come?” “7 children are going to come.”

“What are the children going to do?” “They are going to eat a cake and listen to music.”

  • Questions with two options (or)

“Will it start at 4.00 p.m. or 5.00 p.m.?” “The party will start at 5.00 p.m.”

  • Yes/No questions

“Are they going to eat sandwiches?” No, they aren’t. They are going to eat a cake.”

♦ First, you should know the question words. Read with me the rhyme below:

Building Time! Building What? Let's Build Questions! 2

Who and what?

When and where?

Why and how?

All these words are ones you’ll use,

When you want an answer NOW!

♦ Second, you should know these grammar tenses:

  • Present simple
  • Past simple
  • Present continuous
  • Past continuous
  • Be Going to
  • Will
  • Present perfect

♦ Next, you should know how to build questions.

Remember that there are always little dwarfs, the helping or auxiliary verbs, which help us build questions in English. Let’s see which they are:

Present simple
Past simple
Present continuous, BE GOING TO
Past continuous
Future simple
Present perfect
Previous slide
Next slide

♦ There is something super important you must know about them:

  1. They are small but super powerful. For this reason, they are almost always here, IN FRONT OF the subject. E.g. What do you like reading? 
  2. Some of them have a superpower: they disappear every time we have an affirmative sentence. They are: do, does and did. E.g. I do like reading fairy tales.
  3. Other helping verbs are super active. They keep moving either BEFORE, when we have a question, or AFTER the subject of the sentence, in an affirmative and negative sentence. They are: am, is, are, was, were, have, has and will. Look! When are our grandparents going to visit us? They are going to visit us on Christmas! They aren’t going to visit us this weekend.

♦ Here comes my favourite part! THE MAGIC HIGH FIVE!

You cannot imagine how easy it is to build questions in English just by looking at this hand! Whose is this hand?! Is it Mickey’s or Minnie’s hand?

Building Time! Building What? Let's Build Questions! 3
Building Time! Building What? Let's Build Questions! 4

♦ Finally, why don’t you draw your hand? Make it as big as an elephant! Well, not exactly 😉 You need to write on it! Use as many colours as colours in a rainbow. Ups, they might be too many 😉

  • Question words on the thumb. Remember that in Yes/No question, we don’t use them.
  • Helping verbs on the index finger
  • SUBJECT on the middle finger
  • The main verb on the ring finger
  • extra (other words) on the little finger

Would you like to ask ME some questions? Use the magic high five! You can do it!

  1. What / like eating for lunch?
  2. Where / go yesterday?
  3. Bake / an apple cake tomorrow?
  4. Walk / run every morning?
  5. What / favourite colour?

Now, click below, and you will see the answers. Have you built the questions well?

  • “What do you like eating for lunch?” “I like eating pasta.”
  • “Where did you go yesterday?” “I went to the park.”
  • “Are you going to bake an apple pie tomorrow?” / “Will you bake an apple pie tomorrow?” “Yes, I am.” / “Yes, I will.”
  • “Do you walk or run every morning?” “I walk every morning.”
  • “What is your favourite colour?” “My favourite colour is blue.”

What about you, dear English-language learners? Have you got a magic trick which helps you to build questions in English?

If you are a fellow teacher and are in search of some activities to help your young learners to get better at building questions and answering questions with short answers,  let me know. I’ve got some activities that could be just the ticket for you.

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

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