Do you think children enjoy answering questions or asking them? More often than not, it is the latter, right? This is because questions not only allow children to learn more about the stuff they are curious about. It can also make them feel like they are in the driver’s seat. Especially when AAC learners ask questions, it gives them a sense of control. This can motivate them to communicate more and participate in social interactions.
When communicators learn to ask ‘wh’ questions it allows them to initiate and maintain conversations. Asking questions also enables communicators to acquire knowledge.
For communicators to reliably ask Wh questions, they need to be aware of what kind of information they will get through answers.
For example, the ‘what’ question form gives information regarding either an object/ action / a concept (like shape, colour, etc). The ‘who’ question form, on the other hand, gives information regarding familiar as well as unfamiliar people. This includes family members, school teachers & friends, TV characters from a show, Professionals (Dentist, ENT Doctor, etc.) and therapists, community helpers, neighbours, etc.
Teaching to Ask Questions:
Don’t forget to Model ! : Irrespective of which ‘wh’ question that is being taught to the AAC learner, model the question forms several times in numerous contexts and situations possible.
Model Wh questions on the communicator’s AAC system and answer them too. This way, communicators know what information to expect if they asked the question.
Model this question while saying,
‘We are going to eat pasta’
When you model consistently, the communicator begins to understand how to ask questions.
Turn the tables: Make it a back and forth communication. Encourage learners to ask questions. Be it in an one-on-one setting or a group activity, take turns to see if the AAC learner has understood the concept. First, ask a question to the AAC learner and then switch roles to see if they are using it correctly in appropriate contexts.
Activities to Encourage Questions
Engaging activities make learning more fun. Here are a few activities to teach communicators to frame questions:
‘Circle Time’ / ‘Morning circle’ Activity
This is a common classroom activity where the teachers ask questions that students may already know the answer to. You can tweak this activity a little and make each student in the group take turns and ask questions to each other. Make sure AAC learners have all the vocabulary programmed for asking and answering the questions.
‘Wh- Bingo’ Game
Each child asks a question to the group and gives their answer.
The bingo sheet has all possible answers to this question jumbled up in picture or text form. As each child gives their answers, the whole group crosses them. When the participants get a diagonal, vertical, or horizontal line, they are announced as the winner of the game. It’s best if the question is a simple one that all children will be keen on answering.
For example: The question can be ‘What do you like to eat?’
(Options given in the bingo sheet: Apple, Pancakes, Chocolates, Banana….).
‘Toss – the – Question’ Game
Make the children form a group. The teacher starts the activity by tossing an object (either a ball, a squeezy toy, a Rubik’s cube, a frisbee, etc..) and asks a question. The child who catches the object answers the question and asks a related question. The child now tosses the object to another child in the group while asking a question.
- Teacher: Who is wearing a yellow shirt today ? (starts the game by throwing the ball)
- Student 1: It is Richie ! Who is wearing blue shirt? (Throws the ball to the next student while asking a question).
- Student 2: Johnny! Who is wearing green shirt? (Throws the ball to the next student while asking a question).
These group activities can be done with siblings, friends, and other family members at home. Watching others in the group asking a variety of ‘wh’ questions makes it more fun and motivates the AAC learner to frame different question forms.
Audiologist & Speech – Language – Swallowing Therapist
I have 8 years of experience functioning in various set-ups like special schools, private hospitals, family-based & community-based rehabilitation. I get immense pleasure in providing & seeing success in custom-made intervention programs for individuals with hearing, speech-language and swallowing issues.