Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from D.L., Indiana

How do you teach question words?

Question from D.L., Indiana. Posted September 30, 2011.
Response from Martha French - Keuka College

One good way to teach question words is to model them in conversation for children, or students, or model them in a more structured “lesson” format. The point is, use modeling with a partner (another adult, or older child who can do this with you) so that children can “see” a question and then an appropriate response. You might begin with one question word  (who or what) and gradually add more, but the instruction–if the child/student is not acquiring these words naturally–should include this modeling (modeling the turntaking of question-answer), followed by opportunities to “practice,” or apply both asking and responding to the question word.  As much as possible, especially if the student/child is young, this should occur in natural, authentic contexts and with developmentally appropriate topics. Use very concrete questions & answers to begin with–the answer is tangible and visible. Questions become more difficult when they refer to abstract things, such as thoughts, and when they ask about things separated in time and space from the child.