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Опубликован: 18.11.2015 | Уровень: для всех | Доступ: платный
Лекция 10:

Learning and teaching


Questions are a way of compelling attention from a sleepy student in the corner of course (!), but they are also a very important factor in learning. Teachers ask phenomenal amounts of questions and yet do not always think about the kinds of questions they ask!


Don't start with the name of the student you are addressing eg "Panayota, what was the name of the driver?" Immediately you say "Panayota", the rest of the class switch off. Instead say, "What was the name of the driver?" Pause, look around. Everyone will work out the answer, not knowing who you will ask. When you finally ask Panayota, the other students will listen to see if her answer corresponds with theirs. In educational jargon, this pause is called ‘wait time’. Wait time has been shown to be very effective in encouraging independent thinking and getting the class working out new information.

You can extend this with younger pupils by asking them to put their hand up when they know the answer and wait until all or nearly all the hands in the room are up before asking for the answer.

Particularly make it a rule not to ask comprehension type questions in a fixed order so that the fifth student along knows he will get question 5 - he will spend all his time working out the answer to question 5 and will not hear or read the text nor will he hear anyone else's question or answer.

Instead, dart around with your questions and sometimes go back to keep everyone on their toes.

A good technique, especially with more open questions (see below) is to get pairs to discuss an answer before giving it to the class - for example ‘What word or words could I use in this space and why?’

Make sure everyone is called upon equally. This is particularly difficult when you are darting around with your questions. Students at the back and in the 'wings' must not be forgotten. This is one area where moving around the room will help you to get a different ‘camera angle’ on the class!


Think about these two kinds of questions:

Type 1 questions usually have one right answer. Everyone in the classroom could know the answer. They are often called ‘closed’ questions.


Can you spell ‘really’?

What is the capital of Paris?

What tense is this verb?

(Holding three pens) How many pens do I have?

Is this a bus or a car?

All teachers ask questions like this as a way of checking students have understood and to review language or information. They sometimes use lots of them all together - for example you can easily imagine a situation where a teacher gets the class to change the number of pens in the sentence to practice singular and plural. How many….? You have three pens How many… ? You have one pen etc

Notice that in a closed question the teacher is not really asking for the students’ opinion as she already knows the answer. And also that the questions belong in a classroom - they are not ‘real’. Any teacher who had to ask her husband to verify how many pens she was holding, or any driver who had to ask a policeman if a vehicle was a bus or a car, would be looked at very strangely.

Type 2 questions do not always have a single or right answer. They make students think before they answer. There can be several alternatives. These questions are sometimes called ‘open-ended’ or ‘open’ questions.


How can we answer the telephone in English?

Can you tell me the names of any countries that have had earthquakes recently ?

Why is this sentence in the past tense?

What’s the difference between these two sentences?

Why is the man in the picture angry?

When teachers ask open-ended questions they are activating the students brains in a different way from with closed questions. Some teachers like to start with an open-ended question on the board at the beginning of a lesson that leads into their topic or focus for the day. It is a useful way of finding out how much the students already know.

Even if the response to ‘Name 3 deserts in the world’ is: chocolate cake, ice-cream and fruit salad, the students are still participating and you have something to discuss!

Both types of questions are useful in the classroom but a classroom that asks only Type 1 questions is not giving the students a chance to think for themselves.


Identify the kinds of questions asked by the teacher in these two short scenes. Both teachers have three pictures of cats on their white boards.

Class 1:


Small smaller smallest

Smaller is the comparative of small. It has -er on the end of the word, see?

The white cat is smaller than the black cat.

-est is the superlative of small. It has -est on the end of the word. The brown cat is the smallest.

Which cat is the smallest? Jose?

JOSE: That one.

TEACHER: Is this cat smaller or bigger? Marina?

MARINA: Smaller.


Class 2:


These cats are different. How are they different? Tell your partner how the cats are different. (Teacher waits for a minute.)

Class talk in pairs: colour, big, small, thinner more small, black, white, ugly etc

TEACHER: OK everyone? Put up your hand if you could see a difference. (All hands should go up. If they do not, teacher waits). Chooses someone to answer.

KARIN: Big and small, miss.

Teacher: Good. Can you make a sentence to compare them? Anyone?

NELLA: This cat more small this cat……..


Note the high TTT in the first extract! And only two students do anything. What the others are doing we can only guess, especially as the class is quite large.

The class in the second classroom have had time to think. They all expected to answer the question. They have had time to see if they can do the task. The teacher has been listening in and is finding out what they know - that some of them can compare but that they need to learn how to do it grammatically. They are also trying - they are not so worried about giving a 100% correct answer. This is important for learning. Now all the class are ready to find out about comparatives.

‘Questioning’ and ‘higher order thinking’ are ‘hot’ classroom issues. Find out more about them as your teaching develops - they can make your class a lot more active.


In Unit 3 Module 1 we mentioned that beginners are not all the same. In fact every class is a mixed ability class because people have different skills.

How can classes be managed that have very able students and ones that are struggling? ‘Lock step’ activities in which everyone is supposed to finish at the same time, like an army drill, will always be problematic. We need to look at planning a variety of activities over a course so everyone can do well.

Mixed ability lessons are not frightening or difficult if everyone can achieve something. Some students need extra support. Some need extension. The big word for all of this in education is differentiation - different things for different people.



Students can have different responsibilities on a project. We can organise the class into ability groups. We can choose mixed ability groups or groups that have a range of good points that everyone can help each other to do the same task but in the relaxed atmosphere of a group. We can put all the class leaders in one group and give them something more difficult to do.

An example of the first would be using the same reading text, but asking a weaker group and a more advanced group to identify different vocabulary. When preparing a group presentation or poster, different students have different responsibilities in a group. Just make sure that the weaker student who is, however, good at art does not always spend thirty minutes colouring!


This means giving more help to certain students than others.

This can mean extra lessons but not always. Worksheet differentiation is one way. For example, on a picture story one section of the class has only the pictures and has to make a story from them. Another group has the pictures plus key words. A third group has a gap fill story to complete.

It can mean designing a lesson that gives the teacher free time to concentrate on one section of the class - group work is good for this, or individual reading or writing. In pair work the teacher can work with one student in particular, or direct a very good student to work with someone who finds speaking difficult.


Homework is private time, so there is less embarrassment about getting different work and different homework tasks can be given to individual students.

You can give longer or shorter homework. You can give small extras like: these are the five words you usually spell wrong. Practice them. Most primary classes in the UK do this with spelling so that in the same week one group will be practicing action, active and actor whilst another group has to master psychology, physiology and rhythm……

But remember, giving open tasks can also be good. Give a clear writing task such as ‘Write a clear description of five family members’ and your class will do work that is very different but according to their ability.

Don’t misunderstand extension. In class this means more difficult, not longer! How would you feel if you always have extra work? And how would you feel if THEY always get something extra to do, like using the computer and you don’t because you are too slow.


The following students have listened to dialogues on a recording and read some other dialogues in their book. Now look at their worksheets.

How has this teacher differentiated work simply and easily for her students?



More help is given in the first worksheet than the second for example ‘leather or cloth’ instead of ‘material’. There are ‘sentence starters’ on the first sheet too where the second sheet has only spaces.

Here are a few differentiation DON’Ts!

Don’t teach the whole class as a whole class all the time.

Don’t teach to the middle level and expect others to catch up or wait.

Don’t expect the mixed abilities issues to magically disappear!


It is amazing how much class time can be taken up with managing interruptions.

Here are some of them and their solutions:

Forgotten textbooks

Have an extra photocopy or two handy or have students share.

Have an extra photocopy or two handy or have students share.

Keep a supply of pencils and rubbers in the room.

People coming late

Gesture to them to sit down quietly and finish what you are doing before re - explaining or challenging them over their lateness. Do not wait for latecomers.

Student very lost on one point

See them after class for an extra explanation - if possible provide them with an exercise OR find time during group or pair work to do an extra explanation.

Personal problems

Should always be dealt with outside whole class time

Over the years our classes have been interrupted by:

Industrial action, earthquakes, power cuts (failed air con, heating or lights), nervous breakdowns and tears, bomb scares, fights, an escaped snake during a lesson on pets and once a flood from the toilets across the hall. So be ready for anything.


Here are two teachers beginning lessons. Look at how they manage interruptions and the phrases that they use Which is more successful and why? Both teachers are teaching older teenagers.

Lesson 1

Come in, sit down, be quiet. Be quiet, I said.

Shh! Listen, don’t sit there, move over. (student moves) Sorry? What? Toilet? Yes, go. (student leaves room) In today’s lesson we are going to do something about different types of cars. Put your bag on the floor, not on the desk, you in the second row. No, not you, you. (points) Yes, today’s lesson is about cars that we like. (Shouts) I need quiet before I can start . Shh……..

Lesson 2

Teacher: Good afternoon, everyone.

Students: Good afternoon, hello etc.

Teacher: Is everyone here? Oh, where’s Fabienne?

Student 1: She’s going to be late - she told me to say sorry for her.

T: Thanks for that. Now, we’ll need our textbooks later today so get them out and a pencil. (pause) Look at the title of the lesson on the white board and our aims for today. (points to white board) Turn to a new page in your note book (shows blank page). I have paper on the desk if you do not have your book. (points to paper)

Student 2: Sorry, I haven’t got my stuff today, I left it at home. Very sorry.

Teacher: Here’s a pen and pencil for today, and have some paper from the table.

Now, write down the title of today’s lesson and can anyone tell me…...

With adult evening classes you may have a different problem - a group of tired out floppy students who have no energy. In this case the Lesson 2 approach might not be the way forward and you might like to start with a game or oral activity. But you can still give an air of calm and control!

Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Бахтовари Одиназода
Бахтовари Одиназода
Таджикистан, Душанбе, Технологический университет Таджикистана, 2014
Надежда Костырева
Надежда Костырева
Россия, г. Москва