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September 21, 2009

Twenty Questions

To inspire discussions or writing for English learning students, I have found open-ended questions to be a good place to start.

I have found that a little introductory discussion can help a student with a context and a framework to continue developing...

...his or her own thoughts.

I am particularly interested in the idea of what I might call cultural or life literacy – how we interpret and make sense of the world around us. Some questions to consider are; how do we get information that we need to make good decisions? What areas of life allow us full choice – and what areas of life are most of the choices made for us?

How do we make basic decisions about our lives – like where we live, go to school, travel, vote or work? Are those our decisions? Or do we follow the tracks of others?

Here are a few suggestions for enjoyable thought development;

1. What is your most obsessive thought?
2. Where is your favorite place in the world, and why?
3. What's the one thing your parents don't understand about you?
4. What have you learned that nobody taught you?
5. What is your earliest, most vivid memory?
6. If you have experienced a moment of sudden faith or loss of
faith, what prompted it?
7. If you could take back one thing you have done, what would it be?
8. What is your greatest talent or accomplishment?
9. What is the most joyful moment you have experienced?
10. What is the most painful moment you have experienced?
11. What question would you ask God?
12. Which super power would you choose – and what would you do with it?
13. If you could make one rule about life, what would it be?
14. How would you define time?
15. What is it about some people that makes you immediately like - or dislike - them?
16. If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?
17. If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be?
18. If you could go back in time, where would you go? What would you do?
19. What do you know, that no one else knows?
20. If you had an extra hour in each day, what would you do with it?

As I mentioned before, my intention in teaching English is far more than mastery of grammar and vocabulary. I want my students to be equipped to comprehend and make sense of the world around them. Part of comprehending is to understand, but another important part is to make something known and part of one's self.

And of course, there are few experiences more satisfying than fully expressing one's self - especially in a learned language.

It is good to remember that we are all always learning. And it is always more fun to learn together. We can learn as much from the past as from the present. And we can learn as much from using and stretching our imaginations as from studying our textbooks.

Let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

Posted by mmorf at September 21, 2009 09:31 AM

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