CELTA TP Potholes- Don't ask these questions in class

Teaching practice potholes
CELTA - Mistakes trainees make when asking questions
Questions are an important part of interaction in the classroom but some questions just aren't helpful. This is the first in a series of mistakes NOT to make on your CELTA teaching practice.

Imagine that CELTA teaching practice is a road. A road spread out in front of you. Sometimes it’ll feel like a lovely smooth highway, but there ARE a few great big potholes that you can fall into. Let me tell you about how NOT to fall into the trap of asking BAD eliciting questions.

I’m Jo Gakonga from ELT-Training.com - I’ve been a CELTA tutor for over 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of trainees trip up on the questions they ask their learners. Questions are a great strategy for classroom interaction - you can elicit from learners to see what they already know and to engage them, but here are three things avoid, particularly with lower level learners

Number 1
DO NOT ask ‘What does XX mean?’ - even if they know, they may well not have the language to tell you. (What does cog mean?) Instead, aim for questions that have easy answers – which one is a cog?

Number 2
Do not ask long complicated questions with vocabulary above the level of the learners. What do we call the emotion caused by a situation in which a person feels helpless and driven to great anger because they were unable to complete an action? Keep it simple. I’m trying to talk to my bank on the phone. They put me through to three different people. No one can answer my question. I have to wait for a long time. How do I feel?

Number 3
Do not ask hypothetical questions if you can make things concrete. Concrete is much easier to understand. (if I were driving on the road and I saw hole that could damage my car, what would this this be called?) X Picture - what is this?

And as a bonus – after you have elicited something from one learner – DON’T ask the rest of the class ‘Do you understand?’ – they’ll probably be too embarrassed to say ‘no’ or worse, they might think they’ve got it but have completely misunderstood.

When you are sitting watching quietly in unstressed comfort, these probably all seem very obvious, but they’re almost hard-wired into us, so if you haven’t planned your eliciting questions, you’re very likely to fall into these traps. Don’t!

If you like this, you might like this video on how to elicit vocabulary or this one on 7 great ways to check meaning and for a comprehensive overview of Concept Check questions with examples of all parts of speech - try CCQs made Easy in the link below.

Thanks for watching and look out for more TP potholes coming soon– Bye.
Created with