(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
Spoiler alert: You will hear quite a bit of laughing when students are doing the activity in pairs. 😁
Here is how I introduce this technique to intermediate-level ESL students:
If I say to you, “My cousin gave me a jigsaw puzzle,” and you say, “Pardon?” I’ll know you didn’t understand. But I won’t know which word you didn’t understand. It will help me if you let me know specifically which word you didn’t understand, so you might ask, “Your cousin gave you a what?” Then I know you didn’t understand “jigsaw puzzle.” Or you might ask, “Who gave you a puzzle?” Then I know you didn’t understand that I had said “my cousin.” This unit will give you practice in asking questions about specific information which you did not understand.
The practice for this technique involves a brief introductory exercise and a 3-step pair work activity. (You can find the complete set of exercise to download and use with your students in the link below.)