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Questioning practice in the EFL classroom

Questioning has been identified in the literature as a key teaching and learning activity with the quantity and quality of questions directly linked to language acquisition and a general positive learning experience. The purpose of this empirical study was to explore patterns of questions used by EFL teachers in a classroom environment. Using an observation methodology, four teachers were observed in class and a transcript made of the questions they each asked their learners. The teachers were then asked to attempt a classification of the question types in order to gain an insight into the strategy from the perspective of teacher cognition. The results confirmed that questioning is a major teaching technique that is appreciated by teachers and manipulated for a variety of pedagogical purposes. Questions most valued by teachers as instrumental in achieving quality learning were those which guided learners to the pursuit of meaningful and motivating goals with a high degree of cognitive and linguistic challenge.

KEYWORDS: questioning, question, EFL, language acquisition, foreign language teaching methodology

Wayne Rimmer. Doctor of Philology in Applied Linguistics, Open University UK. IATEFL coordinator, author of teaching course materials and resource books published by Cambridge University Press.

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