Reported Speech: Clarifying Questions (ESL)

ESL Level: Upper-intermediate+

Class Time: 25-35 minutes

Language Focus: clarifying questions, reported speech

Worksheet Downloadreported-speech-clarifying-questions.docx

Activity Description

Before doing this simple activity, you should teach your students the backshifting required in reported speech.

Afterwards, go over the expressions for clarifying questions below. Have them practice with some simple WH questions and Yes/No questions. Afterwards, have them write out some questions below. I didn’t give my students a context, i.e. I let them ask each other questions on anything. You could, however, have them ask job interview questions or something specific.

Once the students have written their questions, they should mingle and ask them to each other. The person who is asked the question should first clarify the question. Once the question has been confirmed, s/he should answer it.

Worksheet Web Preview

Expressions for Clarifying Questions

Direct Question: “What’s your job title?”

I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you well. Did you ask me what my job title was?

Direct Question: “How did you get your job?”

Just so I understand your question… you asked me how I had gotten my job?

Part 1: You are going to have a conversation with your classmates. First, look at the questions below. Add three more questions you’d like to ask (try to make them interesting).

Part 2: Begin a conversation with someone. After you ask your question, your partner should use one of the above phrases for clarifying. Your question should also be changed to reported speech (the verb tenses should be moved back a level). See below.

  • A: Hello, Jenny. Are you free this Saturday?
  • B: I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you well. Did you ask me if I was free this Saturday?
  • A: Yes, exactly.
  • B: Okay. (Then you answer the question…)


Possible Questions

  • Are you going to return next session?
  • Does the weather sometimes affect your mood?
  • What’s your opinion of Toronto so far?
  • Have you ever been arrested?


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