Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA)

After the basic meaning of a structure is established, a time of personalized questions and answers initiates the students into how the structure is used in real-life conversations.  (See an example of PQA.)

These types of questions are important for three reasons.  First, they establish a rapport with the teacher by connecting the student and teacher for a moment in an actual mini-conversation.  In a typical PQA time, the teacher will converse with three or four students this way, and over the course of a few weeks, the teacher gets the opportunity to connect with every student in their class like this.  As the year progresses, this rapport will pay off in improved classroom discipline and a more positive environment.

PQA also provides vital repetitions of the target structures and tunes the students’ ears to hear the slight changes that take place when that structure is used in both questions and answers (such as word order or change of endings on verbs).  Since the same basic questions are asked to three or four different students and then are compared with the responses other students gave, the students can focus more on the structures than on the details of a story.

When the teacher is asking different students the questions, each student’s circle of friends will be more highly engaged because of their interest in their friend.  The most interesting subject to a student is themselves, but the second most interesting is their friends.  If the teacher keeps moving among three to four students with constant comparison questions, three to four times more students will be engaged in the activity.

The most important reason for starting the lesson with PQA, however, is information.  PQA is not an isolated activity in the day’s lesson.  The best use of it is to make it the springboard for the story the class will create that day.  During PQA the TPRS® teacher is constantly listening for details and comments that s/he can weave together into an interesting story in the second part of the lesson.  Which student’s responses will give the best spark to a story?  Once the teacher has found an interesting or odd detail it’s an easy transition into a story.

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