• Stimulating Small-Group Discussion Activity 4: People Will Like You More If You Ask Follow-up Questions

Cover read for discussion SHOT

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)*

Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:

1) They were surprised that some of their classmates’ cultures have different norms about asking questions.  In some of their cultures, it’s actually discouraged.

2) They realized that in order to make and maintain friendships with Americans, it’s a good idea to ask questions.

3) They enjoyed comparing theirs reaction to speed dating.

4) They liked comparing dating in their different countries.

A very important result from this discussion

After this discussion, I noticed students applying what they had learned by asking many more follow-up questions during all small-group discussion.

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Here is the basis for this discussion: According to research, people who ask questions, especially follow-up questions, will be considered more likeable.  The one-page article describes the results from a speed dating study and from an online chat study.  The researchers found that the participants who asked the most questions during a conversation with other participants got the most invitations to have a date or were rated as more likeable.  The article explains why asking questions has this positive effect.

This and future discussion activities include four parts:

1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.
2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.
3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their experience and opinions about the topic before discussing them in groups.
4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different content/personal experience questions in the form of Student A, B or C.

Stimulating Small-Group Discussion Activity 3: People Will Like You More If You Ask Follow-up Questions (and the handout)

Here is an excerpt from the article

2 New research suggests that people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may get better jobs and even get second dates with someone.

 3 When you ask good questions, you are sending two important messages to the other person.
     1)  “I was listening, and I understand what you’re talking about.
     2)  “I care about what you’re talking about, and I would like to learn more from you.”

Here are some of the personal experience discussion questions that students will discuss.

Pre-discussion Exercise 2
Think about these discussion questions.  You don’t have to write anything.

  • Are there speed-dating events in your country?
  • In your country, how do young people find someone whom they’d like to have a date with?
  • In your country, what is a popular thing to do on a date?
  • The article mentions that some people are afraid of asking questions because they worry that it might sound rude.  Do you sometimes hesitate to ask questions for this reason?
  • The article mentions personal questions.  What would be an example of a personal question that we should not ask someone in your country?
  • Do you think asking questions, especially follow-up ones, are common in your culture?

Here is the link to the complete activity:

Discussion Likeability article and exercises

To make group discussion most successful, see these postings for activities

Conversation magic: Two most important conversation techniques (Part 1)
Conversation magic: Two most important techniques. (Part 2)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 1)
Discussion Technique to Get Quiet Students Involved (Part 2)

Also see this posting Want Your Students to Seem More Likeable? Research Says: Teach Them Follow-up Questions

David Kehe

*About the free-download materials. During my 40 years of teaching ESL, I have had many colleagues who were very generous with their time, advice and materials. These downloads are my way of paying it forward.  

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