Concept Checking

Asking concept check questions to your students is a useful tool to help you make sure that your students understand and can use the language you have taught them. Concept checking is not only handy for grammar points and structures, but also for vocabulary, functions and idiomatic expressions. Here are some tips to follow when asking concept check questions.

Avoid asking the question 'Do you understand?' This will only lead to a 'Yes' response from the students and give you no real insight into the students' understanding.

To check the students have grasped the concept, questions must be asked to the students. The preparation of each question is very important. Use questions that involve thinking about the meaning and avoid asking questions that can be lifted from a text. Make sure the questions are easy to understand and contain no difficult language. Wh- questions and yes/no questions work particularly well. Remember to also make sure your questions contain no new grammar or unfamiliar vocabulary.

The target structure must not appear in the concept question. Instead, reduce the target structure to a number of simple statements, which describe the meaning of that structure. After you have done that, turn those statements into questions.


He should have been on-time for work.

Simple statements:

Someone told him to be on-time for work (let's say his boss). He wasn't on-time for work.

The simple statements turned into single questions:

Did his boss tell him to be on-time for work? (Yes) Was he on-time for work? (No)

If the students answer correctly to these two questions, it means they understand the concept. After you have asked these questions, ask personalized questions to the students.


Are you always on-time for work?

You can also ask questions that generate discussion to help students understand the meaning or concept. Try to ask questions that would have more than one correct response. When you are asking comprehension questions, make sure you ask everyone. Try not to concentrate on the students near the front of the class and make sure that everyone understands.

Remind your students that clearing up misunderstandings are a part of everyday communication, so students shouldn't feel embarrassed about asking for clarification. Playing games can also help with concept checking. Games like Hot Seatsand Translation Race are great for checking the students' understanding of vocabulary or grammar.

When asking comprehension reading or listening questions, you can use true/false or multiple-choice questions. You could even ask the students to paraphrase or summarize the text or key points.

When checking writing comprehension, make sure the students understand the topic they are writing about. You may wish to start a small discussion on the topic. If the students are answering a question, go through the question and a clear response. Sometimes students will have to write using a particular structure. Try to practice the structure first, and when marking check they are using the structure correctly.

Concept Checking.PDF



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