“What day is it today?” or “ When are we going to the park?” These are questions all parents are used to hear. Children tend to be curious by nature, and this curiosity it’s a great asset for them. By being curious, children get to learn about the world and the people that surround them, and they fulfill that ongoing search for information as they grow up. And even though that making question is a knowledge that comes naturally, reinforcing the lessons about the so-called wh- questions and how to make them is always useful, both for English speakers and English learners.
Questions are an important form of communication, through questions children start figuring out their world. Usually, the need to ask for information arises in children as young as 2 years old, at least by using basic spoken language, since they are able to make simpler questions before this time just by pointing at something or looking inquisitively around them.
Considering the need for information that children have from an early age, it’s advisable to start by teaching them question words and their uses. Now, let’s start taking a look at how to make questions in English.
Questions words are terms specifically used to gather information about a topic, person, or situation. Given their nature, these are the first words children use to acquire facts about their worlds. This type of questions gets their name from the fact that most of them start with wh- or h.
What” is the most common question word used by children as old as 2 years old. It can refer to an object, an idea or an action.
What is that?
What time is it?
What’s your name?
Where” is the question word to use when asking for information about a place.
Where is the park?
Where is the teddy bear?
The information gathered by asking “who” refers always to a person.
Who is she?
Who is your teacher?
If your little one wants to know about a specific time, “when” is the word to use when asking.
When are we leaving?
When do you go to school?
Asking “why” is making an inquiry about a reason or purpose of something.
Why are you learning English?
Why are there clouds in the sky?
Which” is the question word to use when asking about choices.
Which one do you like: a blue car or a green car?
Which one of these dresses is yours?
Whose’ is used when asking someone about possession.
Whose book is this?
Whose house is it?
Even though this question word doesn’t start with wh-, “how” is still is one of the basics. It’s used to talk about manner, like the way that something happened.
How are you?
How was your lunch?
There are a few more questions that can be asked using “how” as a question words, let’s check some of them out.
We use how much to ask about quantities of things that can’t be easily counted (money, work, sugar, water)
How much water is in the pool?
How much money does that bike cost?
When we want to ask about the number of things that can be numbered, we used this option, for example: to count apples, cars or toys.
How many toys do you have?
How many apples did mom buy?
However, besides using the questions words to request for information, there is another way to ask for something, that is through yes or no questions. What what’s the difference between these and question words? Well, while wh- questions are answered with the requested info, the other ones can be answered by saying yes or no!
This type of questions is also called closed questions since the answers can be very simple!
Let’s take a look at some yes or no questions to start a conversation with children that can be practiced with the little ones, and also some of their possible answers:
Are your siblings older than you?
Yes, they are.
No, they aren’t. They are younger than me.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, I do. I have a dog.
No, I don’t.
Are you going to school?
Yes, I am going to school!
No, I’m not. I’m on vacation.
Do you like apples?
Yes, I do. I like apples.
No, I don’t. I prefer peaches.
Do you play with toys?
Yes, I do. I play with lots of toys.
No, I don’t. I like to play with my friends.
Are you going to the park later?
Yes, I am.
No, I’m not. I am going to the museum.
ESL Conversation Questions
As you can see, there are lots of information that can be gathered by using question words. Now, let’s see some of the most common questions that can be used by learners of English as a second language. These questions are great to start conversations with children since they spark their interest.
❓ What is your favorite thing to do?
❓ What was your favorite part of your day at school?
❓ What’s the funniest thing you saw this week?
❓ Where is your favorite place to be?
❓ Where does your Mom/Dad work?
❓ When is your birthday?
❓ How is your bedroom decorated?
❓ What is your favorite book? Why do you like it?
❓ What do you like to do for fun?
❓ Where do you like to go on vacation?