The Comprehensible Classroom

Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA) is simply a way to refer to asking students questions about themselves, in the target language, and leading a discussion about their answers. Even students with very little functional language can answer questions that they understand with yes/no or one word answers!  


  • Ask students questions about a certain topic.

  • Find out information about a certain topic, or just talk!

PQA Tips from Elicia Cárdenas, Director of Training for the Comprehensible Classroom

  • Remember that the purpose of PQA is not speaking practice. Instead, think of this as an opportunity to find out more information about your kiddos and, bonus, let them hear different verbs in context. 

  • For novices, I always put up the 1st and 2nd person verb forms and point to them when asking the questions. I absolutely accept one word answers- or thumbs up, or nods, or whatever. I never need to hear complete "correct" sentences. 

  • Notice that if you use questions from SOMOS/Nous Sommes/Sumus, they are generally written to be answerable as yes/no or with one word answers, especially in the early units. 

  • Don’t forget to make statements about yourself and compare/contrast yourself with others! 

Example of PQA in a Level 1 class: (From the PQA questions in SOMOS 1, Unit 2)   

Note: L1 translation provided, but the conversation happens in L2. The teacher is careful to pause and point at the meaning any words that are not clear, and link meaning to any new words that come up.

Who runs in PE? Raise your hand if you run in PE. (I raise my hand to model)

¿Quién corre en la clase de Educación Física?  Levanta la mano si corres en la clase de Educación Física. (I raise my hand to model)  

(Bobbi’s hand goes up)

Bobbi, you run in PE?

(Bobbi’s hand goes up)

Bobbi, ¿corres en la clase de Educación Física?

Bobbi: Yes, runs

Sí, corre.*

Class, Bobi says to us "I run in PE." 

Clase, Bobbi dice: «Corro en la clase de Educación Física». 

Class, who does not run in PE?

(Joe raises hand) 

Clase, ¿quién no corre en la clase de Educación Física? 

(Joe raises his hand)

Uh Oh. Joe, you don’t run in PE?  

(Joe shakes head no)

¡Ay! Joe, ¿no corres en la clase de Educación Física?

 (Joe shakes head no)

Class, Joe says “I don’t run in PE.” 

Clase, Joe dice: «No corro en la clase de Educación Física».

Joe, do you run in the park?

(Joe nods)

Joe, ¿corres en el parque?

(Joe nods)

Yes! Class, Joe runs in the park.  

¡Sí! Clase, Joe corre en el parque. 

Class, I don't run in the park, my dog Juniper runs in the park. But I don’t run. 

Clase, yo no corro en el parque. Mi perra Juniper corre en el parque, pero yo no corro en el parque. 

Who also runs in the park?  

¿Quién más corre en el parque? 

*Student does not respond in accurate language, but it's ok! She clearly understands the question.  


As I have “grown up” in using the CI methodology in my classroom, I have noticed I have moved further away from “storytelling/asking” and more towards PQA. Any time you involve your students, their personal lives outside of the classroom, their likes and dislikes, and their opinions in the lesson, THAT is PQA. I love it. It is my favorite form of giving input. It is the easiest way, in my opinion, to get immediate and lasting engagement. When you talk about your students, and their peers, it is automatically engaging. Since it is in their second language, they are forced to listen closely and intently in order to understand what is being discussed. It is magic. Some teachers are phenomenal at just coming into the classroom and having a “discussion” with their kids, and that is what guides their whole class period. Just lots of PQA! I am not that skilled yet. I have pictures help guide my PQA. If my target structure is “come- s/he eats” for example, I will have that on the board in the front of my room, accompanied by LOTS of photos of food, some delicious and some disgusting. Then, I will use that as a guide to prompt my students into volunteering information about what THEY eat and don’t eat. I love PQA, and so do my kids.

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