The effects of asking referential questions on the participation and oral production of lower level language learners in reading classes

Özcan, Seda
This study aims at investigating the effect of asking referential questions on the oral participation and production of lower level language learners in reading classes. The main purpose of the study is to inquire whether the reticence of lower level language learners to participate in lessons due to their poor language ability could be overcome by asking questions that require their opinions and comments, rather than solely answering questions to display their comprehension. For this purpose an action research was conducted in a lower level preparatory class at Izmir University of Economics over a 4-week period. This action research included a preliminary investigation stage to discover the reasons for low level of participation in these classes and to come up with a hypothesis to solve the problem, and 3 reading lessons to test the hypothesis. During those 3 lessons students were exposed to both display and referential questions and the number of students and responses were calculated for both question types to collect quantitative data. In addition, the mean lengths (in words) of students’ responses to display and referential questions were calculated to find out the differences of students’ responses in terms of length between display and referential questions. The analysis of quantitative data indicates that lower level language learners participate more when asked a referential question. Additionally, referential v questions engender longer responses compared to the responses given to the display questions.