Using concept checking questions in the ESL classroom
This post was written by Laura Greenwood, CELTA instructor. 

Why ask Concept Checking Questions?

“Right?” “Does that make sense?” “Do you have it?” “OK?”

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

Again, what is a CCQ? What can it check for?

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?”

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 white board, and time and tense in CCQs.

Looking for more EFL teaching tips? Visit the BridgeTEFL videos library to see real EFL teachers demonstrate expert techniques in the classroom.