Speaking Skills - Asking

Speaking Skills - Asking Questions

Many post beginner to lower intermediate students are quite capable of expressing their ideas reasonably well. However, they often run into problems when asking questions. This is due to a number of causes: i.e., teachers are the ones that usually ask questions, the inversion of the auxiliary verb and subject can be especially tricky for many students. This simple lesson focuses specifically on the question form and helping students gain skill while switching tenses in the question form.

Aim: Improving speaking confidence when using question forms

Activity: Intensive auxiliary review followed by student gap question exercises.

Level: Lower-intermediate


  • Focus on auxiliary verb usage by making a number of statements in tenses the students are familiar with. Ask students to identify the auxiliary verb in each case.
  • Ask a student or students to explain the underlying scheme of the object question form (i.e., ? word Auxiliary Subject Verb). Have students give a number of examples in different tenses.
  • Split students up into pairs. Distribute worksheet and ask students to ask an appropriate questions for the given answer taking turns.
  • Follow-up check of questions either by circulating through the student pairs or as a group.
  • Ask students to each take the second exercise (one for Student A the other for Student B) and complete the gaps by asking their partner for the missing information.
  • Solidify question forms by quickly playing a verb inversion game using the various tenses (i.e., Teacher: I live in the city. Student: Where do you live? etc.)

Asking Questions

Exercise 1: Ask an appropriate question for the response

  • A steak, please.
  • Oh, I stayed at home and watched tv.
  • She is reading a book at the moment.
  • We are going to visit France.
  • I usually get up at 7 o'clock.
  • No, he is single.
  • For about 2 years.
  • I was washing up when he arrived.

Exercise 2: Ask questions to fill the gaps with the missing information

Student A

Frank was born in ______ (where?) in 1977. He went to school in Buenos Aires for ______ (how long?) before moving to Denver. He misses _______ (what?), but he enjoys studying and living in Denver. In fact, he _____ (what?) in Denver for over 4 years. Currently, he _________ (what?) at the University of Colorado where he is going to receive his Bachelor of Science next ______ (when?). After he receives his degree, he is going to return to Buenos Aires to marry _____ (who?) and begin a career in research. Alice ______ (what?) at the University in Buenos Aires and is also going to receive ______ (what?) next May. They met in _____ (where?) in 1995 while they were hiking together in the ______ (where?). They have been engaged for ________ (how long?).

Student BFrank was born in Buenos Aires in ______ (when?). He went to school in _______ (where?) for 12 years before moving to ______ (where?). He misses living in Buenos Aires, but he enjoys ________ (what?) in Denver. In fact, he has lived in Denver for ______ (how long?). Currently, he is studying at the ______ (where?) where he is going to receive his _______ (what?) next June. After he receives his degree, he is going to return to _____ (where?) to marry his fiance Alice and begin a career in ______ (what?). Alice studies Art History at the ________ (where?) and is also going to receive a degree in Art History next _____ (when?). They met in Peru in _____ (when?) while they _______ (what?) together in the Andes. They have been engaged for three years.

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