What are Instruction Check Questions?

As well as presenting, explaining and defining new language, teachers also have to give students plenty of activities so they can practise the language. We may ask them to do these exercises or activities individually, in pairs, in small groups, or with the whole class working together.
Before they start doing the activities, our learners need to know exactly what to do. Therefore, teachers must instruct clearly and concisely. If we make our instructions too vague and wordy, our students will get confused.
After we have instructed, we need to make sure our learners have understood. We can do this by asking them instruction check questions.
Example Task Instruction
Teacher: I want you to work in pairs and write 5 questions about holidays.
Example Instruction Check Questions
Teacher: Do I want you to work in groups of 3?
(If students say yes, they haven’t understood the instruction)
Teacher: Do I want you to write 5 questions about food?
(If students say yes, they haven’t understood the instruction)
Instruction Check Questions should be simple and it is often a good idea to use a combination of right and wrong questions. For example, Do I want you to work in groups of 3? In small groups? In pairs?
Warning: ICQs can be overused in the classroom and some learners might feel the teacher is making fun of them or patronising them. An alternative way of checking that instructions have been understood is simply to ask a student to repeat the instructions back to you.
Maybe the best way to check understanding is simply to ask:
So Pedro, what do you have to do?

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