Posted on August 27, 2019 | By Jenni Fogg
13th Jun 2019
For both new teachers with a shiny certificate in hand or teachers with years of experience, it’s likely that at some point you’ll come up against a question you just don’t know the answer to. Whether it’s a grammar question you have no explanation for or a nosy personal query you’re not comfortable answering in front of 15 staring teenagers, we’ll cover our top tips for dealing with difficult questions. Thanks to all the contributors on Twitter who gave us their ideas.
#1 Dealing with grammar or lexical questions
You can’t be expected to know everything, so first of all, don’t feel embarrassed or awkward if a question comes up that you can’t answer off the bat. Importantly, don’t make up an answer if you’ve got no idea! The other thing to avoid is simply bamboozling your students with terminology that they won’t understand to make it look like you know what you’re talking about. If your students ask a question, it’s likely because they’re curious or interested in discovering the answer, so they’ll need to be able to understand it!
Here are some things you can do:
#2 Dealing with inappropriate or personal questions
There might be times in the classroom that students ask questions that you don’t want to answer. These could be personal questions about your life outside the classroom or they could be questions that you don’t feel comfortable answering as perhaps they’d be better for the child’s parents to answer (e.g. Is Father Christmas real? Where do babies come from?). You also might feel the student is really pushing their luck – and you don’t want to encourage them.
Here are some ways for you to deal with this:
There are a few key things to take away. Firstly, it’s OK not to know the answers to everything your students ask. It’s also an excellent opportunity to show your students that it’s alright if they don’t know everything too. You can teach them a little more autonomy by getting them to find out the answers themselves. You can also introduce some language they can use if they don’t know the answer or don’t want to answer the question too.
We hope this blog has been useful to you! If you enjoyed this, you may also like: The beginner’s guide to discipline techniques in the TEFL classroom.