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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Module 6 - Supporting questioning


Asking and answering questions are significant components in effective teaching and learning.  Teacher aides have an important role to play in developing these essential language skills.

 In this module you'll learn more about:

  • the different types of questions that can be used to promote learning
  • ways to encourage and support different questioning techniques
  • the importance of giving students a chance to think deeply

Refer to page 51 of your handbook to read the module introduction, or download the PDF of this module here: 

Teacher holding word dice.

Audio transcript

A-nyong ha-se-yo, I’m Rae Si’ilata.

If you have completed Module 5, you will have a better understanding of:

  • assisting ELLs to develop a rich bank of oral language
  • the way that oral language resources can be used to monitor student progress
  • and a range of strategies which lead to meaningful interaction based on classroom topics.

Module 6 reminds us that asking and answering questions is a vital part of the teaching and learning process.  Often questions are asked only by the teacher and just require responses at a simplistic level. The focus of this module is to explore the range of question types available which will help ELLs develop critical thinking skills.

Learning support staff and teachers often ask closed or factual recall questions such as, “What is latex?” Instead, it is valuable to focus on questions which encourage students to think through an answer. These types of questions are called open questions. For example, “Why is latex an important product today?”

One strategy that ensures that students become familiar with using a range of questioning skills is Three Level Questioning. It encourages students to move beyond simple recall responses to higher level responses that require them to think deeply about the ideas in the text.

It is vital that students ask questions about classroom topics. This can be encouraged by using the strategies featured in this module, the Question Stem Grid and the Question Dice. These provide effective tools for the students to ask in-depth questions. Another strategy that is used to improve questioning techniques is the Concept Star which is illustrated in the video clip.

When you ask an ELL a question, they often translate the question silently into their first language to understand it, develop an answer in their first language, and then translate this into an oral response in the second language. Therefore, it is essential to provide wait time so that students can think before formulating a response.

By the time you have completed this module, you will have a better understanding of the strategies to use to assist your ELLs to develop their language skills through asking thought-provoking questions and making in-depth responses.

Learning tasks

In this module you have one task to complete.

Asking and answering questions

This task is designed to help learners recognise and use different levels and types of questions by using a questioning stem grid or questioning dice.

It should take you about half an hour to complete this task, then discuss it with your coordinating teacher.

Watch the video below to see an example of a teacher using the ‘Concept star’. This simple strategy is used to help students formulate questions in a visual arts class.



Teacher - If you look carefully on this concept star you can see that there are some sentence starters. So this one here it says, what patterns are used in Siapo?  The patterns are, .and then you just need to write down what the patterns are that you can see. Okay, you’re going to be using these sentence starters when you share back with the class. So it’s important that you look at them as well.

Student - What is Siapo used for?


Yeah art…….yeah.

It is used for art.

I’ll read this one, what patterns are used in Siapo?

It looks like a bird.

This is flowers,.kind of flowers.

Feathers, but it’s the feathers in Samoa.

It looks like feathers and leaves.

Yeah, feathers and leaves.

The patterns are feathers and leaves.

Student - When we did the concept start, I knew Siapo, because when I was in Samoa my dad used to make some. I could share my ideas with Siapo in my group that I was, and I told them how the colours was made.

Your thoughts

The Next Steps section of this module (p53-54), reviews strategies for you to try with your learners, and presents a question grid for you to try.

Discuss the Next Steps section in the handbook with your coordinating teacher then answer these questions about your learning from this module:

  1. What are three concepts and three terms you learnt in this module?
  2. What learning tasks did you complete in this module?
  3. How will you apply the learning tasks from this module with your students?
  4. What main issues did you discuss with your coordinating teacher?
  5. What do you need to find out more about and how will you do this?
  6. What do you need to do to prepare for the next module?

When you've completed all of the questions, you've finished the module. Your coordinating teacher can sign off the module on the course completion certificate

Published on: 08 Jan 2018