Practice asking questions | ESL activities for tutors

October 16th, 2017 / Teaching

TEFL tips: how to practice questions how to teach ESL/EFL

Questions in English are hard; the subject and the verb swap places, there is the added ‘do’ or ‘does’ and prepositions go at the end. For example, it is not ‘about what are you thinking?’ It is, ‘what are you thinking about?’

For this reason, you ESL teachers should make question practice an integral part of every TEFL lesson. You don’t have to spend a long time on it, but ten minutes practice towards the end of the lesson will make a huge difference to your students’ English.

ESL question practice activity

Instead of asking a question, the teacher says the answer and asks their students to work out what the question was. To get the right question the teacher must emphasise the most important part of the sentence with their voice. For example:

Teacher: She goes running with her sister. What is the question?’

Student: ‘Who does she go running with?’

Without this emphasis, the student could have easily asked, ‘What is she doing?’ which would be grammatically correct but not the question the teacher was searching for.

Below, I have written common statements for all main grammar points.

Once you understand the idea, you should write sentences of your own for more variety in your classes.

In every question practice, I put a particular emphasis on the questions that students find the most difficult, such as prepositions at the end of sentences.

You can find a full list of statements for question practice in our books The Ultimate Teaching ESL Manual and The Ultimate Teaching ESL Online Manual.

Basic questions for A1 plus level

It is purple – ‘What colour is it?’

There are five photos on the shelf ‘How many photos are there on the shelf?’

I don’t know how to cook Chinese food – ‘Do you know how to cook Chinese food?’

Yes, we did our homework – ‘Did you do your homework?’

It’s on the desk‘Where is it?’

Yes, he likes playing basketball – ‘Does he like playing basketball?’

She swims twice a week – ‘How often does she swim?’

It’s four o’clock – ‘What time is it?’

Yes, she can ride a bike – ‘Can she ride a bike?’

I am a teacher‘What do you do?’

She is from Britain ‘Where is she from?’

His name is John‘What is his name?’

They are eight years’ old – ‘How old are they?’


It’s her mobile‘Whose mobile is it?’

It will be their picture when I die – ‘Whose picture will it be?’


The weather is warm and sunny today‘What is the weather like today?’

It will be stormy tomorrow – ‘What will the weather be like tomorrow?’


It’s 400 km from Madrid to Barcelona – ‘How far is it from Madrid to Barcelona?’

It was 40 km to New York – ‘How far was it to New York?’

How much, how many

Next week we will have two cars – ‘How many cars will you have next week?’

He used to have three houses‘How many houses did he used to have?’


He does karate five times a week – ‘How often does he do karate?’

She used to make an appearance every couple of months – ‘How often did she used to make an appearance?’

Measurements / degree

The table is 1.2 meters wide – ‘How wide is the table?’

An elephant weights about 4500kg – ‘How much does she weigh?’

Take and last

It takes her a day to write a decent essay – ‘How long does it take her to write a decent essay?’

The tennis match should last 2 hours as long as it doesn’t rain– ‘How long should the tennis match last?’

Still, yet, already and anymore

Yes, she has already spoken to the neighbour – ‘Has she spoken to the neighbour yet?’

Yes, he is still taking French classes – ‘Is he still taking French classes?’

Present perfect/present perfect continuous

I have been living in this neighbourhood for 10 years – ‘How long have you been living in this neighbourhood for?’

He has known them since he was young – ‘How long has he known them for?’

To be, look, taste, smell and sound like

He has a beard and blond hair – ‘What does he look like?’

The hotel is relaxing but a bit boring – ‘What is the hotel like?’

It sounds like rock music – ‘What does it sound like?’

It tastes sweet – ‘What does it taste like?’

Prepositions at the end of the sentence

We are responsible for this animal – ‘What are we responsible for?’

They are sailing to America – ‘Where are they sailing to?’

They were joking about the class – What were they joking about?

I went to the park with my dog‘Who did you go to the park with?’

It was painted by Picasso‘Who was it painted by?’

He is in charge of production‘What is he in charge of?’

She used to be scared of flying – ‘What did she used to be scared of?’


Learn how to teach TEFL/ESL English

Buy now $8.80-17.99

The Ultimate Teaching ESL Online Manual ESL TEFL classes

Buy now $4.99-11.49

The Ultimate ESL Vocabulary Manual

New! Buy for $4.99-11.49

The ultimate teaching ESL/tefl book of speaking activities

Buy now $2.99

Buy now $3.99-12.99


Subscribe to the newsletter

Get monthly tips, tricks and free worksheets for EFL English teaching.

The Ultimate ESL Teaching Manual

New to TEFL? Earn your living teaching great ESL classes

Get started today and discover a skill that will serve you for the rest of your life.

Learn more