Conversation class: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)

A: “This is Mt. Baker.” B: “Did you actually climb it?”

Do you want someone to feel like they have interesting idea?  Ask follow-up questions.

The second activity involves maintaining and extending the conversation by questions about what their partner has said.  It’s called “Using Follow-Up Questions.”

After the teacher has introduced the purpose of follow-up questions to the students, (1) the students can participate in the following exercises.

Exercise 1. To demonstrate how follow-up questions are used, they first read a dialog and fill in some blanks.  The fill-ins are important to get students to really focus on the meaning; without the blanks, students tend to mindlessly read the dialog.

Where              Oh, really        see                   What

1.A: (Question) What time did you go to bed last night?

2.B: (Answer) At mid-night.

3.A: (Rejoinder & follow-up) _________________?  That’s late!  _______________ were you doing until midnight?

4.B: (Answer) I had a date.

5.A: (Rejoinder & follow-up) I _____.  _________________ did you go?

6.B: (Answer) I went to a party at a friend’s house.

This Exercise 1 serves two purposes.  It helps students see that follow-up questions are connected to the previous answer that their partner had given.  And it serves as a model for how they will carry out Exercise 2.

Exercise 2. In pairs, students practice a conversational format similar to the example in Exercise 1. This involves three steps going from controlled to more free form.  (Please note: Student A’s and Student B’s papers would be on different pages so that they could not see each other’s.)

                       Student A

Step 1: Ask Students B these questions and respond with rejoinders and several follow-up questions.  Also, answer Student B’s questions.

1. What country would you like to live in someday?

3. Are you afraid of anything?

               Student B

Step 1: Ask Students A these questions and respond with rejoinders and several follow-up questions.  Also, answer Student A’s questions.

2. Did you send an email or text anyone today?

4. Who is the most unusual person in your family?

In Steps 3 and 4, students have the opportunity to ask questions about topics that are most relevant to them.  Often these are not topics that even their instructor would have thought of.  But because coming up with good questions on one’s own, in Step 3, students write the questions with a partner.

Step 3: With a partner, write several questions in the space below.

 

 

Step 3: With a partner, write several questions in the space below.

 

 

When students do Step 4 (below), it’s very common for the voices in the room to become louder with enthusiasm and to hear a lot of laughing as they work with new partners talking about topics that are most personal to them.

Step 4: Find a new partner and take turns asking your questions and responding with rejoinders and follow-up questions. Step 4: Find a new partner and take turns asking your questions and responding with rejoinders and follow-up questions.

(1) For a brief introduction that the teacher can tell the students, see p. 129 in Conversation Strategies by David and Peggy Kehe (Pro Lingua). http://www.prolinguaassociates.com/Conversation_Strategies/index.html

Here is the link to the complete activityfollow-up-questions-pfd

For practicing follow-ups with lower-level students, see Basic Conversation Strategies by David & Peggy Kehe (Pro Lingua).http://www.prolinguaassociates.com/Basic_Conversation_Strategies/index.html

For practicing combined rejoinders and follow-ups with advanced-level students, see Discussion Strategies by David & Peggy Kehe (Pro Lingua). http://www.prolinguaassociates.com/Pages/dsbook.html

David Kehe

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