Their Answers Are in Your Questions- Questions for Adults
–Written by Devan Ogburn
Who? What? How? Get all the answers by asking the right questions! Here are some great ways to ask adults questions and get them more involved during a session.
Understanding how to connect with different audiences when teaching is very important. Young students and adults each respond in different ways when interacting with content during a session. When talking with adults during a lesson, you do not have the same barriers as when talking with young students. For many children, they are learning not only English, but things in their native language as well. Adults have developed a stronger way of speaking and understanding of their native language as well as life experiences. This can sometimes make learning a new language more of a challenge, but it provides great opportunities for discussion based on experiences. For example, if you show a young student a picture of something while teaching the English word, they may or may not know what that is in their native language. Whereas you are more likely to have an adult who has had experience with such things in their lifetime.
When trying to get your adult students to participate, it is essential to remember these things when asking questions:
- Make sure your questions are clear and concise. Even for the most proficient learners, phrases that you may think are simple may not be understood by them just yet.
- If you are asking a student a question with other students in the session, make sure you say there name first to make sure they are listening and paying attention. I.e. Jamie, what do you think?
- If an adult doesn’t know the answer, you shouldn’t give up and continue. However, if they aren’t able to answer after some time, seeing if another student can help or coming back to them keeps them engaged without making them feel singled out.
- Always consider the proficiency level. This will give you better guidance on the type of questions you can ask your students.
Now, when considering what questions to ask, it is most helpful to base the type of questions you ask off the proficiency level of the students in your session. A helpful structure to use when determining this is that of Bloomberg’s Taxonomy. Bloomberg’s Taxonomy is a way of classifying educational learning and is highly used when teaching foreign languages. It presents a structure for levels of thinking, from low to high, that can be adapted to how we ask adults questions. It has been reshaped for you to use when choosing questions to get adults to participate during lessons.
How- These type of questions require adults to determine their own idea of a solution or answer based on the information provided. It checks understanding, comprehension, as well as promotes idea generation. For example:
- How would you handle a situation if your child were being bullied?
- How can we work to better environmental health?
Why- This category of questions asks for understanding. Adults will have to give their opinion on certain issues. It can even be started with a lower level question. For example:
- Who is someone that inspires you and why?
- Why is it important for students to be educated?
What/Where/Who- These questions are asking for answers of identification. They are useful for recalling previous vocabulary as well as connecting parts of their personal lives to the lessons. For example:
- What types of activities do you do on the weekend?
- Where is the one place you have always wanted to visit?