Teaching Questions to English Language Learners
Asking and answering questions is so important in a new language. The wrong answer can cause many problems! English has three common ways which indicate a question. The first and easiest to learn are question words such as "Who? What? When? and Where?" Most languages have some form of question words.
The second way to indicate a question is the reversal of the subject and verb. This is unusual among world languages and harder to learn. Many languages have a marker that is added at the beginning or end of the statement to make it a question.
Ex. (* = marker) *You are from the Congo? or You are from the Congo*? But English reverses the S-V order. I often write the statement above the question and draw arrows from the first subject and verb to the second subject and verb to visually show the reversal.
Ex. You are from the Congo. Statement S-V
Ex. Are you from the Congo? Question V-S
The third common way to form a question in English is to add "do" at the beginning of a statement. This is commonly used with action verbs, but never with "to be" verbs.
Ex. 1. You ride a bicycle. Do you ride a bicycle?
Ex. 2. You have a sister. Do you have a sister?
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