Good Learning Questionnaire

A big thanks to our friend Carmen Plaza this week for this guest post, as well as an accompanying activity which we’ll be adding to the collection. Carmen teaches adults and kids in Cadiz, Andalucia. Like Mark did in his post, she presents a solution to the problem of detracting from actual learning (in students’ eyes) when we talk about learning. This time, though, the students are lower level, showing that learner autonomy doesn’t have to be the reserve of the stronger speakers. Thanks, Carmen! :o)

 Here is another way of integrating learner coaching into classroom work.

Work with a partner. Take it in turns to ask questions and to write down your partner’s answers.

Student A

Do you:

Yes, always

Yes, usually

Yes, sometimes

No, not usually

No, not very often

No, hardly ever

No, never

look at your notebook between classes?








bring coloured pens to class?








check new words in a dictionary?








use diagrams or drawings in your notebook?








underline lexical chunks?








visit the ‘useful websites’ listed in our blog?








read six minutes of English every day?








bring questions to ask your teacher in class?








Student B

Do you:

Yes, always

Yes, usually

Yes, sometimes

No, not usually

No, not very often

No, hardly ever

No, never

write in your notebook outside of class?




bring a ‘highlighter pen’ to class?




draw vocabulary trees?




use phonetic symbols?




use a learning calendar to plan your study time?




read the lesson summaries in the blog?




do listening exercises on the Internet?




ever email your teacher for help outside the class?




The Questionnaire works well with adult learners of all levels although it does offer specific language practice on present simple questions and adverbs of frequency and can therefore double up as classroom work for elementary/lower intermediate classes.

By combining controlled language practice with a learner reflection and awareness task, it is perfect for engaging learners on the subject of their own learning whilst giving them the valuable language practice they need. It can then be used as a springboard for generating further ideas as a group.

Firstly, students interview each other using this questionnaire format which I adapted from an existing habits questionnaire. It gives plenty of practice on Do You Questions in the present simple and common adverbs of frequency. Depending on the level of the class, you could add, remove or simplify the questions and possible responses. For early finishers, you could ask them to think up a suitable title for the questionnaire.

As a learner coach, I found this activity particularly useful:

  • For getting students to reflect on their current learning practices (most ‘score’ quite low near the beginning of a course, often the source of much mirth).
  • For introducing students to different ways of organising learning (for example by using vocabulary trees, phonetic symbols, learning calendars, the six-minutes a day rule).
  • For the group to generate their own ideas on Good Learning.
  • As a checklist/guide for the duration of the course and beyond. You could encourage students to continue to add and swap ideas and nudge them regularly into reflecting on how their ‘learning ’ is coming along.

The activity can be nicely rounded off with each student choosing three new strategies to try out in the coming week. Students love standing up and declaring under oath ‘This week I’m going to ….’.

If you extend the oath, put it on the whiteboard, give them a teabag, London postcard or other British paraphernalia on which to rest their hand, the end result is even better. It’s become a fun and hugely motivating way to end a class!

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5 Responses to Good Learning Questionnaire

  1. duncan says:

    thanks Carmen for this contribution. I particularly love the idea of swearing an oath on a teabag and will be trying this out as soon as I can!

    • Carmen says:

      Thanks for the comment :)- be prepared for the Oh My God did he really just pull a teabag out of his pocket look. They’ll think you’ve gone barking mad ! But it pays off in the end. 🙂

  2. Ceri Jones says:

    Hi Carmen 🙂
    Great questionnaire – and I absolutely love the oath!

    • Carmen says:

      Thanks Ceri, to be filed under ‘Zany Activities in the Classroom’
      I got the idea from Daniel Barber Tefl del Sur workshop on Building an Autonomous Classroom May 2011. At the end of the workshop he handed out a little bookmark with an oath written on it. A sort of learner coach mantra. It’s served me well ever since!

  3. Pingback: What’s happening out there? | Learner Coaching ELT

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