If you’re looking for details about concept checking questions (CCQs), then you’re certainly in the right place. We’ll give you the rundown on how to concept check in a language class and also why it’s so important to do so. Keep on reading!
What is Concept Checking?
Concept checking is a method that teachers can use to ensure that their students have fully understood their instruction. It consists of asking simple questions (concept checking questions or CCQs) to check the student’s understanding and comprehension of the target language.
Sounds simple? In many ways CCQs are. However, they do require some planning in order to do them well and all teachers, save for the very experienced ones should even jot down a few questions into their lesson plans.
Think about the question, “Do you understand?” It’s all too common in language classes but don’t almost all students say, “Yes,” regardless of whether or not they understand? A much better alternative is to use a CCQ to ensure that students actually understand the material.
CCQ vs ICQ
Please note that CCQ’s are different than ICQ’s. An ICQ (instruction checking question) is designed to test understanding of how to do an activity. Find out more here: What is ICQ?
What is the Purpose of a CCQ?
The purpose of concept checking is to ensure that students thoroughly understand the material that has been taught, before moving on to new things, or further work on the target language. For example, there’s no point in doing controlled practice and then freer practice is students don’t understand the basic concepts.
Or, why move on to new material if students don’t have a good grasp on the material you’ve been teaching them already? It’s better for students to know a few things well than lots of stuff not really at all!
Things to Keep in Mind When Making Concept Checking Questions
Here are a few tips and tricks for concept checking to keep in mind.
Plan CCQs in Advance in your Lesson Plan
It’s easy to come up with CCQs on the fly. However, they may not be good ones!
To combat this, spend some time thinking of them when planning lessons. And then make this a step in the lesson to cover. The best time is right after presenting the target language. I also like to throw a few in at the end of class by way of review.
Concept Check Questions Should Focus on Meaning, Form, or Function
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- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 72 Pages - 12/24/2015 (Publication Date)
Be sure to focus on form, meaning or function. Which one depends on the target language. For example:
Function: You must not walk on the grass. (Is it okay to walk on the grass? No).
Form: I didn’t went to school yesterday. (Is this a good sentence? No. I didn’t go…).
Meaning: The building is gigantic. (Big or small building? Big).
Concept Checking Questions Shouldn’t Use the Target Language
Avoid using the target language in CCQs. If students don’t understand the target language, using it again will not help to clarify meaning or function. For example:
- I was doing my homework when you called (Was I eating dinner when you called?)
- I can play soccer (Can I play soccer?)
Better questions for the above examples are:
- What happened first, homework or you calling? (homework)
- Do I like soccer (maybe? Probably yes)
Check the Language, Not the Situation
The best questions focus on the language and not the specific situation. For example, “You shouldn’t walk on the grass.” A question that focuses on the situation is:
- Why shouldn’t I walk on the grass?
A better question is:
- Is walking on the grass okay?
Think Simple for Concept Checking Questions
The point of a CCQ is to check understanding on the target language, not the understanding of the CCQ! This means that the questions should be very simple and not use overly complicated vocabulary or grammatical structures.
Even the weakest students in the class should be able to easily understand a good CCQ.
Here are some bad examples:
- I got my nails done yesterday. (Did I enlist the services of a beautician to do something with my nails?)
- I’m going to make dinner and then go to the gym tonight. (Am I planning on making something for supper, eating, cleaning up and then heading over to the fitness facility to get a difficult workout with my trainer in?)
The Best CCQs Require a Yes/No Questions or Choice Between Two Things
Think yes or no questions, simple WH questions, or a choice between two things. They should only require a 1-2 word answer from the students. I generally insist on full sentences from my students when they’re speaking in my classes. However, now is not the time to do so!
Remember that the purpose of concept checking is to ensure students understand the material.
Other Ways to Check Understanding
Besides the things just mentioned above, there are a few other ways to check if students have understood the material:
- Use timelines for verb tenses. However, these are not a substitute for CCQs but they are helpful in assisting with understanding.
- Truth lines for probability (can’t be, must be, etc.)
- Reality lines for conditionals
- Pictures to distinguish between similar things
- Negative checking (I were?)
- Translation (not always helpful or possible)
When do Teachers need to Use CCQs?
There are a number of points during a lesson when it’s possible to use them. I like to sprinkle them liberally throughout!
However, the time when I would consider it mandatory is after presenting the new material and before students start doing controlled practice with it.
I also like to ask some of these questions if I discover during the practice phase of the lesson that students are having a difficult time grasping the form, function or meaning of the language.
Finally, it’s also possible to use them at the end of the lesson for a quick review.
A quick note. If you share a common language with the students (a Korean teacher teaching all Korean students), then it may be simpler to do this kind of thing in your shared first language. However, if you don’t share a common language, then CCQs are the best way to make sure students actually understand the material.
Concept Checking Example #1:
Here’s an example:
Tony and Kerry live in a two-bedroom apartment.
- Who lives there?
- How many bedrooms are there?
- Is there 1 person who lives there?
- Are there 3 people living there?
- When did they move there?
Concept Checking Questions Example #2:
Here’s another example:
Oh wow! They’re painting that building.
- Is it happening now?
- Can you see it?
- Is the painting finished?
- Are they painting now?
- Who is painting?
- Is it past, present or future?
CCQ Example #3:
A final example:
If I won the lottery, I’d buy a new house.
- Did I win the lottery?
- Am I going to win the lottery?
- Am I going to buy a new house?
- Have I bought a lottery ticket?
- Will this happen?
Did you like Learning About CCQ Questions?
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- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 122 Pages - 02/23/2020 (Publication Date)
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Last update on 2022-01-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API