“Do you understand?” “Does that make sense?” “Do you have it?”  It does not matter how a teacher asks “Do you understand?” These types of questions are ineffective attempts at checking meaning with ESL/EFL students. Try concept check questions (CCQs) instead.

What is a CCQ?

A concept checking question is designed to highlight the essence of the meaning of the day’s target language and verbally check for understanding of grammar, vocabulary, communicative functions, instructions, really for any time a teacher wants to ask, “Do you understand?”

What can it check for?

By using CCQs:

A. The teacher draws out what her/his learners know and the learners get to participate in the learning process of discovering and understanding the new language.

B. learners articulate their English knowledge and teachers clarify and add to their students’ knowledge.

Golden rules for using CCQs when teaching English:

1. Plan CCQs in advance.

2. Ask questions that are simple.

3. Direct CCQs to specific students, not always to the whole class, the same students, or the best students; cover as many students as possible.

4. Ask both yes/no questions, either/or questions, and simple ‘Wh’ questions to check the various aspects of the target language.

5. Do not add unfamiliar vocabulary or new language to CCQs; it just muddies the attempt to highlight meaning.

6. Do not use the new target language in CCQs.

7. Use pictures, realia, miming, synonyms, antonyms, the whiteboard, and time and tense in CCQs.

Example of a CCQ:

Let's imagine you taught your students a lesson on the difference between two common ways to express the future: present progressive tense ("I'm seeing a movie tonight.") vs. simple future ("I will be there."). A good CCQ for students at the end of class could be to ask students, "What are your plans for the rest of the day?" Their answers ("I will play soccer"/"I am going to play soccer") will indicate if they understood the lesson!


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