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The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.

Ursla Le Guin (1929-2018)

The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

Ask Me! (First Letter Questions)

Encourage students to ask questions by presenting them with FLQs - questions written on the board using the first letter of each word only. When the students have worked out the answer they will find themselves asking a question which you can then answer.

Rationale

Getting students (especially Japanese ones) to ask questions without prompting can be difficult. Quite often questioning ends up being one way - the teacher asks the questions and the students answer.

One thing I do after a round of questions is to say, "Ask me!" So if I have asked the students how their weeks were one of them (chosen randomly) or all of them in unison can ask the same or similar question based upon the model I've just given.

But a more challenging and interesting approach is to turn the questioning into a kind of puzzle or game. Write a question on the board that you want the students to ask you but only the first letters of each word. Eg:

W d y d a t w?

Go through the words one at time until they have worked out the whole string: "What did you do at the weekend?" Once the students have said the whole question you can answer and the write up the next question. "Oh, I went shopping."

W d y b?

And so on. This method allows you to guide dialogue helping students to understand both the structure of simple conversations as well as actual questions themselves.

Extension

Students get together in pairs and take turns writing FLQs for each other to solve. The questions can be personal, related to recent events or focused on a particular theme or topic.

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