The Internet TESL Journal

Fun Question Rounds for Children's English Classes

Joe Drakos
YES Language School (Hisaki, Japan)
A method for question round exercises to help children learn how to change objects and answers to make new language.


I have found in my classes that although my young students are good at remembering and repeating new words, phrases and simple conversations they have difficulty producing language spontaneously.  That is, they find it difficult to change the object of the sentence to get a new meaning.  To remedy this, I have incorporated a spontaneous language exercise I call the round robin question exercises.  As regular question rounds involve the repetition of a single question where the teacher begins the round and the first student in answers round robin question exercises are designed to help students change the objects of the students questions or their answer to a static question.  Therefore, I would like to share this exercise with any and all who are interested.

An Example of a Regular Question Round  

Teacher: How are you?
Student: I'm fine, thank you.

This order proceeds until the last student asks the teacher the question.  Language has been produced but there are so many other answers to this question.  By using flash cards, either with pictures or words, the teacher can get the students to change their answers throughout the question rounds thus producing spontaneous language.   

There are two different methods you can use: 1. Asking a question where the answer changes.  2. Asking a yes or no question where the object of the question can change.  Both of these use flashcards to make it easier for the children to decide the answer or object. 

Procedure 1: One Question with Varied Answers.

In this exercise you need to choose a target question and then decide which possible answers are appropriate for the level of your students.  Write the answers on cards.  You may need to write phonetic equivalents if Roman letters are not the standard writing method in the child's native language.  For example, Japanese children may need to have hiragana characters written above the English words to help with pronunciation.  

Next you need to introduce the question.  A familiar question like “How are you?” is good.   Feel free to do a quick question round to warm the students up.  Then introduce the new answers.  You can do some actions to help clarify the emotional state of each answer.  Let's continue with the “How are you?” exercise.

Question: How are you?

Common answer: I'm fine, thank you or I'm fine.

Expanded positive answers:  I'm good, I'm O.K., I'm GREAT!!

Expanded negative answers:  I'm not so good, I'm unhappy, I'm sick

Procedure 2:  A Yes/ No Question with a Changeable Object.

This might be easier for the children as it involves a lot of picture cards to supply ideas for new objects.  To start you need to choose some pictures either at random or according to a category, e.g. fruits, clothes, colors, etc.  Pre-teach or review the vocabulary and place the cards on the table.  Next introduce the target question.  The question should be something the student has had some experience with, i.e. like or want.  It might be good to start with a teacher to student practice where you point to a card and ask the question.    

First present the vocabulary cards.  Let's use fruit words in this example.  Hold up an apple card, pronounce it and have the students repeat and then place the card on the table.  If the students know their fruit words well you only need to hold up the card and elicit an answer.  

Next you need to introduce the familiar question, in this case it's “do you like___?”.  You can direct the first question to the strongest student as to help the others understand what is going on.  It is only a yes/ no type question so the children should catch on quickly.  Once each student has practiced the question, minding to change the object by pointing to a different card you can move on to the spontaneous language stage.

At this time you need to explain to the students that they will be asking the question to their neighbor and their neighbor will answer yes or no or yes, I do or no, I don't.  Tell them that they can use any of the cards on the table.  In some cases, my keen students use two objects connecting them correctly with and.  

Here is an example using the “do you like” exercise.

Teacher: (points to apple card) Bobby, do you like apples?

Bobby: Yes, I do.  (points to banana card) Jose, do you like bananas?

Jose: Yes, I do.  (points to orange) Mika, do you like oranges?

Mika: No, I don't.
And so on until the question reaches the teacher.


This exercise may be expanded on to fit the needs of the students.  It is a great way to get the students to start changing the objects of their questions and give different answers to static questions.   It also helps the students decide on an object or answer quickly which helps them to imitate the speed in which natural English is spoken.

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. X, No. 11, November 2004