Understanding The Importance Of Questions For English Learners


Maggie From Telephoneteacher

Questions and answers are foundational to communication, both written and spoken. Understanding the nature of questions is particularly helpful when studying English as a second language. Conversation in your class is created, obviously, by the formulation and asking of questions, listening for a response, and then responding appropriately.

The most important thing about questions is recognizing the key words and the cues that they provide. There are five essential words (the W5) which are used to formulate questions. They are who, what, when, where and why. The words how and do are also important. Learning to recognize these words and what responses they require are key to developing good listening skills.

Below are the W5 words/how/do, and what they relate to, along with examples. A good way to practice is to strive to use all of the W5 words when developing a conversation topic. This will add variety to your speaking, and will help you develop the topic fully. For example, if the topic is food, see the table below for examples of responses using W5 words.

To conclude, it is helpful to recognize that frequent use of all of these words while examining any conversation topic, will provide the teacher and learner with dynamic conversation possibilities.

Example: Food

Q5 Question Relates to Example
Who People Who do you like to have your meals with?
What Information /details


What is your favorite food?

What time do you usually eat your meals?

When Time When are you going to try that new restaurant?

When will she start her new diet?

Where Place Where do you shop for groceries?
Why Reason,


Why do you hate spinach?
How Describe the process How often do you eat meat?
Do/does/don’t/doesn’t Asks a direct question that requires a yes or no answer Do you always cook your own dinner?

Does watching food commercials make you hungry?

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importance of questions


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