Instruction checking questions (ICQ’s) are necessary for a smoothly running language classroom. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know, including a definition, meaning and examples.
What is an ICQ?
Teachers use ICQ’s to make sure that language learners understand what they need to do during an activity. For example, to clarify how many people are in a group, what the goal of the task is, or how many minutes they have to complete something.
In a second language class, it’s very common for students to misunderstand a teacher giving instructions, particularly at lower levels. They may be too embarrassed to admit that they didn’t understand in front of their classmates, or they might not have the language ability to formulate a question related to instructions.
Whatever the case, instruction checking questions are vital for ensuring a well-run language class.
Oh, and one thing before we get into all the details about instruction checking questions! Whatever you do, please banish the question, “Do you understand?” It’s useless because all students will say yes, all the time, even if they don’t. There is a better way! Keep on reading to find out more.
ICQ = instruction checking question. They are used in language classes to ensure that students have understood instructions that a teacher has given. They are simple questions that should require only an answer that is one or two words. ICQ’s are ideal for eliciting feedback from students.
ICQ vs CCQ
Although ICQs (instruction checking question) and CCQs (concept checking questions) are similar, they test different things. ICQs are designed to test understanding of instruction while CCQs test whether or not students have understood something related to language. For example, a CCQ might be related to the difference between curly and straight hair, or the rules for the simple past.
More details here: CCQs.
Instruction Checking Questions Examples
There are countless examples of instruction checking questions and they’ll largely depend on the activity or game. However, here are some examples:
- How many people are in a group?
- How many minutes do you have to finish?
- What page is it on?
- When is the homework due?
- Should you talk in a big group or 1-1?
- What do you have to write?
- How many sentences do you need to write?
Teaching Tips for Instruction Checking Questions
Here are a few of my top tips for using ICQs in your classes.
#1: Think Simple with an ICQ!
The best ICQs are very simple. Think yes/no questions (Should you stand up?). Or, a question that requires only a one-word answer (How many people in a group? 3).
#2: Write Instruction Checking Questions Down
When making a lesson plan, jot down a few ICQs for each activity or game. Experienced teachers can often think of them on the spot but this isn’t as easy to do when just starting out. Write them down in the lesson plan.
#3: Seems Too Obvious?
Not to worry. Obvious is good. Most students will have already understood the instructions. ICQs are for the bottom 20% of the class that may be struggling.
#4: Some Students Zone Out
Feeling frustrated that students seem to be zoning out during instructions. Won’t worry. This is totally normal during a language class. One way to help these daydreamers in your class out is with ICQs. They are a nice way to reduce cognitive load.
#5: More Complicated Instructions = More ICQs
Think about how complicated your instructions are. Something like, “Start now” is so simple that you don’t need to check it. Or, “You have three minutes” falls into this too simple category.
However, instructions like this “Turn to page 7. Do questions 2/5/9 with a partner. Circle the verbs and underline the nouns. You have three minutes and then we will check answers” may challenge many students. And for something like task-based learning, you’ll have to use even more of them.
Instruction Checking Questions FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about using these questions in language classes. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones.
How do you ask an ICQ?
The time to ask an ICQ is after giving instructions and before starting an activity or game. They should be simple, planned in advance and are designed to make sure students understand what they need to do.
What is ICQ and CCQ in ESL?
In ESL, an ICQ is an instruction checking question while a CCQ is a concept checking question. ICQ’s are used to check understanding of instructions while CCQ’s are used to check understanding of language concepts.
What does ICQ mean in teaching?
In teaching, an ICQ means instruction checking question.
Is, “Do you understand?” an ICQ?
Technically, do you understand could be an ICQ but it’s not that helpful because all students will answer, “Yes!” even if they don’t understand.
More Tips for Teaching English
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 122 Pages - 02/23/2020 (Publication Date)
If you’re looking to level up your English classes, then you’ll definitely want to check out this book on Amazon: Tips for Teaching ESL/EFL to Teenagers, University Students, and Adults. You can easily find the book on Amazon in a variety of formats.
Head on over to Amazon today and get ready for better English classes tomorrow. Click here:
Using Instruction Checking Questions: Join the Conversation
Do you have any thoughts about using instruction checking questions in your language classes? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API