There are many skills students musts learn to be able to really communicate in English. They have to be able to explain about themselves in English and describe their homes, family and their environment in English. Surprisingly this requires a lot of vocabulary that Japanese students do not learn in 6 years of study in junior and senior high school. Because they do not learn this vocabulary they are not able to do this simple explanation. But I believe that the skill that is most needed is the ability to ask and answer questions.
Basically there are three types.
- Questions starting with “Wh” words and “How”.
- Questions which require a “Yes or No” answer .
- “Alternative questions” requiring the answerer to choose between two or more things. An example is: “Do you watch more TV in the morning or the evening?
- Of course if you include “question tags” there is a fourth type. Example: “You live in Tokyo, don’t you?”
So, this is a very important skill to master. It is important to understand the question without translation to your native language and to answer quickly with the correct grammatical form. In real life our answers are not complete sentences and they may not be perfect grammatical matches but it is important to first learn to make complete sentences and match the grammar of the answer to that of the question.
Here are some examples using “common knowledge”. Common knowledge questions can be used because everyone should know the answer and the purpose of the question practice is not to test knowledge but rather to practice asking and answering questions.
So here are some examples:
- Q: Are you happy with your life? —>A: Yes, I am.
- Q: Do you like baseball? —>A: No, I don’t.
- Q: Were you sleeping at 1:00 a.m.?—-> A: Yes, I was.
- Q: What time did you get up this morning?—> A: I got up at 8:00 a.m.
- Q: How do you feel?—> A: I feel a little tired.
- Q: When is America’s Independence Day?—> A: It ‘s on July 4th.
- Q: What is Tokyo?—-> A: It’s the capital of Japan. (It’s a city/prefecture).
- Q: Who is the prime minister of Japan? —>A: Naoto Kan is (the prime minister of Japan).
- Why does the sun rise in the east?—> A: Because the earth turns from west to east.
- What are some big Japanese companies? —> Toyota, Sony and Panasonic are some big Japanese companies.
So for those students who read this soapbox, please work hard on question practice. It will help you to become very good at speaking English.