Follow-Up Questions

clouds in the shape of question marks against a blue sky

Purpose:  To keep a conversation going, learners need to be able to ask follow-up questions in English. This activity provides some support and structure as they practice using follow-up questions.

Preparation Time:  none

Materials Needed:  whiteboard, markers

Procedure:

  1. Explain to the group that asking multiple questions is a good way to keep a conversation moving forward and show that you are interested in what your conversation partner has to say.
  2. Brainstorm a few questions that learners could ask one another to start a conversation. If possible, try to have the questions relate to the unit that the learners are studying. Write the questions on the top of thewhiteboard, leaving room underneath for additional questions.
  3. Ask a learner one of the questions. After the learner answers, ask several follow-up questions to encourage them to expand their response and continue to talk. 
  4. Have the group tell you what questions they heard you ask. Write them down on the whiteboard underneath the corresponding starting question. Read through the questions as a group, and ask if there are any other questions that could be added.
  5. Go through each or the starting questions and have the learners generate a few questions for each that they could ask to keep the conversation going.  Write the follow-up questions down under the corresponding starter question.

Example:

“What did you do next?”
“Why do you say that?”
“How did that happen?”
“When did that happen?”
“What did you say?”
“Where did that happen?”
“Why is it your favorite?”
“Do you recommend it?”

 

  1. Put the learners into partners. One partner will ask a discussion question, then ask follow-up questions to try and keep their partner talking as long as possible. After they finish, have the partners switch roles and repeat the activity.
  2. If possible, have the learners switch partners and repeat the activity several times.  

Modification 1: For a single learner, generate one starter question and follow-up questions at a time. Begin by asking the learner the starter and follow-up questions, and then switch roles and have them ask you the same questions. After you finish up one series of questions, erase them and begin another. As the learner grows more confident, ask them to ask the questions first.

Modification 2: For low level learners, work with only one starter question. Write the question on the mini-whiteboard and have the whole group practice saying it out loud, then answering it with a partner. Once they are comfortable asking and answering the starter question, add 2-3 follow-up questions, practicing asking and answering each of the questions as a whole group. Partner the learners off and then have them ask and answer the same questions with each of their partners so that they get repeated practice using the same language.

Expansion: To make this activity more challenging, have learners generate their own follow-up questions after they have practiced several as a whole class. Set a starter question, and then have the learner who is asking questions come up with their own follow-up questions independently. Afterwards, you can have the group share which questions they asked.

 

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