3 Simple, Fun Activities to Practice WHY & BECAUSE

Why would I create a whole lesson devoted to why and because?
Because answers to why vary.
‘Cause pronunciation varies.
Cos informal variations in spelling are used as well.
I created a whole lesson devoted to this topic because two of my students needed to build confidence asking and answering questions with why. 

This lesson on why and because was shared on YouTube. As part of my basic English playlist, I worked on camera with Flavia and Andreia, my two courageous students who agreed to study with me to supplement their school studies. Our small group format affords them more speaking practice and the opportunity to request help at any time. In return, they’re helping me model the real process of trial and error, the benefits of taking risks, and the need for review and repetition. Their language production during the lesson reminded me of the specific challenges related to this topic. We had a small segment on pronunciation, and without using too much terminology, I conveyed the choice of giving only the adverb clause — typical in conversation — or stating a full sentence to explain the reason for something. The video lesson includes a short open answer exercise at the end.

Here are three more ideas for meaningful practice.

Why & Because in 3-2-1
– Select 3 photos in advance.
– Show all three photos. In pairs, students can write why questions for each photo.
– In a large class, pairs will exchange papers. Then in 1 minute, students will try to give short answers to all six questions. Partners can take turns answers the questions as they read them:
Why is she wearing a hat? – Because it’s sunny.
Why is he happy? – Because he’s having fun.
Why are they wet? – Because it’s raining.

Choose photos that lend themselves to the language students know. For example, I haven’t practiced the past tense yet with my two beginners, so I made sure photos I used could be discussed in the present tense. In an alternative format, students can practice writing the long answers without a time limit so that they learn to construct complete sentences.

Curious Questions
– Students can work in small groups.
– Students will choose 2-3 personal items and place them on the desk in front of them.
– Taking turns, students will ask the person to their left one question with why about one personal item. Why do you need this key? Why is your phone (turned) off? Etc.
After an item is discussed, it can be removed from the table. For fun, you can switch directions after the first round of questions.

Gapped Why Questions
Version 1 – Inspired by Mad Libs. Students can work in pairs supplying missing words according to the clues (plural noun, action verb, a color, a number, etc.) Reading and answering the completed questions will often be humorous and illogical. See Gapped Whys 1_handout for suggested questions. You can create your own.

Version 2 – Students receive slips of paper with incomplete questions. Challenge them to finish them however they wish. As a class, they can work together to match questions to answers. Silly combinations are possible.  See Gapped Whys 2_handout for suggested matches. You can create your own.

Photo credit: Hands, Offer, Response, Consulting by Geralt. Retrieved from the Public Domain at https://pixabay.com/illustrations/hands-offer-response-consulting-460872/.

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