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Answering Personal Questions

Answering Personal Questions

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Published by Renato Ganoza
Meant for teachers. This elaborates on some points of the "Academic Interview Training" sheets.
Meant for teachers. This elaborates on some points of the "Academic Interview Training" sheets.

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Published by: Renato Ganoza on Jul 24, 2009
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05/11/2014

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1. Finding something to say.
Ask the student a simple question\u2013 \u201cWhat\u2019s your name?\u201d\u2013 and ask them to give you an answer at least a minute long.
Use a stopwatch to time them. Students used to one-word answers will draw an impressive blank.
If necessary help the student fill out their answer:\u201cHow did you choose your English name? What\u2019s the meaning of your
Chinese name? How long have you had your English name? Is this your first English name?\u201d
There\u2019s alot they could say. Once students are comfortable giving one-minute answers to personal questions (\u201cWhere

are you from?\u201d or\u201cWhat school do you go to?\u201d) we can move on.
2. Saying something different and memorable.
Draw a professor and ask the student how many students that professor will interview in one day. Ten? Twenty? More?

Have the\u201cprofessor\u201d ask the\u201cstudents\u201d a simple question\u2013\u201cWhat are your hobbies?\u201d
Ask the student what the\u201cstudents\u201d will answer.\u201cI like shopping and listening to music and swimming and many, many
things!\u201d for a girl or\u201cI like basketball and playing computer games and watching TV\u201d for a boy.

Obviously we want to give better answers than that. The professor is likely sick of hearing superficial lists. Ask your class to think updifferent hobbies\u2013 something more interesting than\u201cI do homework.\u201d Ask students to choose a hobby that is important to them. Ask them to speak about that one hobby for one minute.

This is where we introduce structure to their answers. Explain that the professor gets tired with students who give one-

word answers. It means he has to ask more questions. Students should give complete answers to questions.
What\u2019s a complete answer? It\u2019s something that anticipates follow-up questions and answers them.
Write the following five words on the board or a piece of paper:

Who
What
When
Where
Why
A student whose hobby is playing the piano answers those questions\u2013 \u201cI (who) play the piano (what) every Tuesday
(when) at the music school near my home (where) because it\u2019s my favorite musical instrument (why).\u201d
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
If students are having troubles peaking\u2013 they can\u2019t find words or think of anything to say\u2013 play two short games.

1. Place a cup on the desk (or on a highly visible place). The student can describe the cup for five minutes. The student can tell you a story about the cup. In a class each student can try to say something different about the cup. The first student may say\u201cIt\u2019s a cup.\u201d No one following him can repeat that.

a. You may need to demonstrate.\u201cIt\u2019s empty.\u201d\u201cIt\u2019s plastic.\u201d\u201cIt\u2019s blue.\u201d
2. Tell the students that you\u2019re going to ask them very simple questions. They must do their best to answer completely.

\u201cHow old are you?\u201d
\u201cI\u2019m seventeen.\u201d
\u201cWhy?\u201d

Demand explanations from students.\u201cAre you married?\u201d\u201cDo you have any children?\u201d
Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009

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