The official website of educator Jack C Richards

Yes-No Questions as a Research Tool

Submitted by Lester John A. Cajes, Las Piñas National High School, Philippines

Students perform better when they realize that what they are learning is relevant to their current needs and interest. For instance, teaching the structure of yes-no questions to students of a research-oriented program can be integrated with making a survey form or a questionnaire. In this case, the students will find it highly necessary to learn how to write accurate questions to be able to come up with presentable survey tools that will not only enhance their research but also impress their survey respondents who might be their peers as well. Here are the steps.
  1. Present examples in class, and let the students discover the pattern in formulating yes-no questions. Let them transform statements into questions and vice versa for further familiarization.
  2. Let the students think of a topic that they may use in an actual research, e.g., study habits, choosing friends or peers, school club preference.
  3. Ask the students to work in groups (3 to 4 members look fine) and draft questions that will let them gather information as regards their chosen topic. Then, they have to decide on whether their target response is a simple “yes or no” or a range of options, e.g., never, seldom, often, and always. Remind them to make their questions clear and concise. They should also avoid using negative markers such as “not” and “never” to avoid making their respondents confused.
  4. Collect their drafts and give comments on their content and grammar. Let them revise until all the questions become accurate and appropriate.
  5. After finalizing the questionnaire, ask the students to prepare for the actual survey. Have a brief discussion on the lines or spiels and procedures that have to be observed. Once ready, send them to the battlefield; let them conduct the survey.
  6. Finally, let the students use graphs or tables to present the data they have gathered. Then, they interpret such figures in linear form. At this point, they have to make sure that the information is properly transcoded from linear form to non-linear form or vice versa. Well, that’s another language skill for them to refine. See, this activity lets you hit two birds (even several birds) with one stone.

The Implementation of Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy

Submitted by Elih Sutisna Yanto, Universitas Singaperbangsa, Indonesia

Pre-reading activity

Viewing Video

This activity is the first step for implementing vocabulary self-collection strategy (VSS). The teacher takes a clip from a video containing second language research terminologies. Once the teacher has the video, extract all vocabulary items related to the second language research terminologies that students need to know to comprehend the text and include them in a list that teacher can complete with other relevant words of the second language research terminologies that are not included in the video. Through modelling the process of using the VSS, the teacher demonstrates how to use the strategy.

Teacher scaffolding

The teacher then projects a copy of the text in the video on LCD and uses a think-aloud as a way of modelling how to select words that are important for understanding the reading. The teacher indicates his interest in a word that may result from his not knowing the word, or finding it difficult or interesting. He shares with the class the need to know something more about the word to understand the text. The teacher, then project a graphic organizer that includes a box for the word, the reason for selecting the word, and the definition of the word as shown in Figure 2.1, Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy Chart. He writes the word in the appropriate box, says the word, and ask the students why they think he chose this word as an important one for leaning. He then writes the reason in the appropriate box. Next step, the teacher defines the word, writing the definition in the next box. Finally, the teacher consults the dictionary about the word’s definition.

2.2. During reading activity

The teachers directs the students to view video containing second language research terminologies. After viewing the video to do the following

  1. After viewing the video, revisit the text and select at least five words that they think are important to their understanding of the readings or that they found interesting or challenging.
  2. Complete the VSS student Chart in figure 2.1 that directs them to write the word, they found it at what page, the reason for selecting the word, and a definition of the word if they know it and finally consult dictionary the definition.

2.3. Post reading activity

Forming groups

Students are divided into small groups that can be formed based on a teacher decision, a student preference, a mixture of genders, a mixture of students’ proficiency level in language and reading abilities. More critically, a teacher facilitates students to form groups in order to the mutual agreement about composing together can be reached through negotiation between teacher and students or between individual members of each group.

The groups will focus their discussions on the words they have selected and their reasons for choosing the words. Through their texts and completed VSS charts, each group is directed to do the following:

  1. The group appoints one student to act as leader whose role is to keep the discussion moving as they focus their talk on the words they have selected.
  2. Each student submits one word he or she has selected and provides the reason for choosing the word that becomes the focus of the discussion. The discussion may center on the word’s meaning, the importance of the word in understanding the reading, whether the members of the group selected the word, or another reason. The group then decides whether the word should be selected for the group chart.
  3. The group leader uses the group chart to record the word, the reason it has been selected by the group, and the word’s contextual definition. Each group limits the number of words included on the VSS chart to five.
  4. Writing the contextual meaning of each word is the last step of using the VSS. Students then validate the meaning of each word through the use of the dictionary both printed or electronic dictionaries or the glossary that may be found in the text.
  5. After the small-group discussion, the teacher brings the groups together for a class discussion. Each group leader reports to the class, providing the list of words selected by the small group. The teacher or student records the words on the VSS class chart, along with reasons for choosing the word and the contextual meanings.
  6. The teacher may list additional words overlooked by students that are required for understanding the text. For words with a high-difficulty level that the students do not understand, the teacher provides direct instruction, focusing on the words’ contextual meaning.

Practicing interview skills

Submitted by Lester John Cajes, Manila, Philippines

Letting students conduct an oral interview can be an effective task to help them enhance their skills in formulating accurate and appropriate WH questions.  Also, it can serve as a good practice for their oral communication and interpersonal skills, and boost their confidence in speaking. Here are the steps:

  1. Have a brief discussion on formulating WH questions. Let students transform statements into questions to assess if they can already do it correctly.
  2. Decide on who the interviewees will be – they can be teachers, their fellow students or some members of the community. General questions or specific topics like job-related stuff can be the focus of the interview.
  3. Let the students draft ten to fifteen questions. Be sure to remind them to consider courtesy in their choice of questions and avoid too personal ones such as those on romantic relationships, salary, age, etc.
  4. Have them submit the draft. Then, check the structure and meaning of the questions. Give comments and corrections if necessary. Upon receiving the paper, they should be advised whether they have to revise, add some more questions, just rewrite or finally conduct the interview. Multiple revisions may be necessary. This may also serve as an exercise or drill for them to master the structure of WH questions.
  5. Once the questionnaires are finalized, tell the students to set an appointment with their interviewees. Issuing them with a copy of the rubric to be used can also be a signal that they can finally conduct the oral interview. The rubric contains indicators on voice, delivery and confidence. It should be accomplished by the interviewees.
  6. Before they finally take on the interview, they should be reminded about some tips in conducting it, i.e., appearance, greetings, follow-up questions and voice modulation, among others.
  7. You may ask them to videotape the whole interview or make a written report out of it. This is for you to have your own assessment of their performance.

Integrating Word Stress into Lessons

Submitted by David Bohlke, USA

Some languages pronounce each word with equal emphasis. In other languages, such as English, word stress is important for comprehension. A stressed syllable is said longer, louder, and with a higher pitch.

Word stress is important because stressing the wrong syllable can cause misunderstandings. It might be difficult to understand the word, or a wrongly stressed syllable can cause confusion or even annoyance for the listener. In some cases, stressing the wrong syllable word’s meaning changes the meaning or type of word.

The following suggestions may help teachers integrate word stress into lessons.

  1. Raise awareness of the importance of word stress To show how important word stress is, say a familiar word with the wrong stress. For example, say computer as COMputer instead of comPUter. Students will quickly get a feel for why this is wrong.
  1. Show stress patterns when you teach new vocabulary.

How you do this is up to you, but find a system and stick with it. You might draw large and small stress bubbles over words, underline stressed syllables, mark them as a familiar dictionary might, or write capital letters for stressed syllables.

PHOto / PHOtograph / phoTOgraphy

  1. Have students categorize new vocabulary by stress pattern.

They might do this in a vocabulary notebook to show connections between word families:

Equal / eQUAlity / Equalize / equaliZAtion NEUtral / neuTRALity / NEUtralize / neutraliZAtion

You probably would not devote a whole lesson to word stress but there may be times you create an activity to give it extra focus.


  1. Group by stress pattern

Give each student a piece of paper with a word on it. Have them regroup themselves by finding and sitting with others with the same stress pattern. For example, for a class of 28 students prepare 4 words with each of seven stress patterns.

O o (happy) / o O (enjoy) / O o o (energy) / o O o (computer) / o o O (volunteer) / o O o o (biology) / o o O o (politician)

  1. Word stress bingo

Go over words noun / verb pairs where the stress is on the first syllable for nouns and the second for verbs, e.g. EXport / export. Have students write 16 of the words in a mixed order on a 4×4 Bingo card. To play, say a word as a noun or a verb. Students mark the ones they hear. Possible words include rewrite, invite, insert, misprint, escort, contrast, increase, decrease, discount, permit, conflict, insult, contest, export, import, present, contract, object, reject, record.

  1. Scavenger hunt

Give each group a different color pack of Post-its. Tell them they will have exactly one minute to labels things in the classroom with the O o pattern (jacket, whiteboard, window, etc.). Once an item is labeled it cannot be labeled again. Give one point for each correct word.

Enhancing Speaking Unconsciously

Submitted by Hamed Nastaran, Bushehr, Iran

Here is a way to enhance accent & fluency; unconscious accuracy through subliminal content and repetition.

First you need to find an audio and its text. It can be a song and its lyrics, a movie with subtitle, or a book’s readings along with the audio track ( The kind of reading with the target accent). Now depending on your English level; you may start from your desired step. (You may repeat each step several times.)

  1. Listen to the audio while seeing the text, try to follow the text as the audio is being played. Falling behind is OK, just keep calm and do your best.
  1. Try to hum with the audio. You don’t need to read with it or even pronounce it. Just hum with the rhythm and follow the intonation.
  1. Now is the time to whisper along with it. Keep humming, but try to pronounce the words whenever it’s possible.
  1. Read with it. At first, put your focus on synchronizing your pace; then do your best to match the intonations.
  1. Elicit you favorite parts (Phrases, expressions, catch phrases, etc.) and use them in your daily routine.


  1. Put your headphones on; do the exercise and record yourself. Next step is doing it with one of your ears free.
  2. Singing along can be really useful since you may repeat the context without getting bored. Concerts can be good sources since they contain miscellaneous pronunciations of words in various circumstances with different difficulties.