This session discussed the art of formulating concept check questions (CCQs). A CCQ is used to check students (SS) have understood new language, such as vocabulary, grammar, and functions.
This is important because the answer, yes or no, to the question ‘Do you understand?’ doesn’t really tell you anything. I have personal experience of this in China where the fear of losing face means SS will usually say yes to everything, but is true in most contexts. I’d say ‘Do you understand?’, and get ‘yes!’, then ‘Where is the supermarket?’ and get ‘Yes!’ again.
Anyway, after establishing the what and why of CCQs we moved onto crafting them. I found the approach suggested very clear and useful. It went like this…
- Summarise the essential meaning into a number or short sentences.
- Turn these sentences into questions.
- Write the answers to the questions to make sure they produce short answers.
- Put the questions in a logical order.
Here is an example.
I wish I had a car.
- Have I got a car?
- Do I want a car?
- Do I want a car now?
- Can I buy one?
Finally, trainees were given language items to write CCQs for in pairs. There was also some focus on the use of timelines to aid the understanding of tenses but the main focus was CCQs.
Key points from the session
- Context is king
- Guide SS to correct answers with simple language
- Keep CCQs simple and avoid target language
The methodical procedure for creating CCQs is invaluable for CELTA trainees. I think it is important to remember that many trainees are completely new to teaching and these kinds of simple rules can really help them.