how to ask question without thinking?

leena   Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:07 am GMT
hello guys
I would like to ask abt something very important for esl learners.What are the best ways to ask a question in english without thinking.I mean to act like very fluent.Sometimes i get lost of thinking abt the formation of a grammatical questions,like someone speaks abt something and i would like to comment what he says by asking very fast plz give me some tips.thanks
Q   Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:34 pm GMT
just say: "Please elaborate more on that concept."
Mary   Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:53 pm GMT
I agree with Q. If you don't recognize a specific word or phrase, say, "I'm not sure what you mean by ___." If you don't understand a more general concept, say, "Could you go over that again?" or "I don't understand your reasoning."

I assume that you're asking because you need to be able to sound like you know what's happening in class, even when you don't. (Often the case for me in my humanities courses when I haven't done the reading!) When it comes to maintaining the illusion that you understand what's going on, gestures and eye contact are key. You can express your interest and concentration by holding or rubbing your chin and maintaining eye contact. Nod periodically. In a classroom environment, maintain a confident posture - lean back in your seat and keep your chin up. When the teacher adresses a question to the whole class, smile and look around the classroom as if you were a teacher's assistant or visiting professor (i.e., as if you are already an expert and the question was not intended for you). In a one-on-one conversation, native speakers will tend to make natural pauses in the middle of sentences; during this time, say something reassuring like "yeah" or "mm-hmm" to indicate you are following the conversation. Mimic the speaker's attitude: if they become animated, act excited; if they start to laugh, laugh with them; if they roll their eyes or act skeptical, shake your head and act skeptical too.
Guest   Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:30 pm GMT
If you want to get good grades in your class assignments or tests not to forget of ass-kissing teachers. It is one of those neccessary acts for developing a good relationship with them and is very important at a university level. Other students are doing this, if you don't do it, you'll be at a disadvantage. My opinion is off-topic, but still something I feel is beneficial for you to learn as a student.
Robin   Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:59 pm GMT
One of my mother's favourite expressions, which I do not necessarily agree with is:

'Such an such, a person, is very genuine.'

The sorts of body language, and facial clues that Mary mentioned, are all expressions that people use when they are genuinely interested.

If you make an effort with other people, the liklihood is that they will make an effort with you.

If you are very cynical and manipulative, the liklihood is that other people will not like you.

<<how to ask question without thinking?>>

If you ask a genuine question, you will get a genuine reply.

If you ask a silly question, you will get a silly reply

There is also another English expression which again, I do not particularly like: 'brown nosing'.
Mary   Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:36 am GMT
I agree with you, Robin, that it is important to show your true emotions. I also hate it when people suck up to professors.

However, I am at a school with many international students (both undergrad and grad students), and I have seen them struggle during their first year of courses. Not only do many ESL students feel embarassed by their deficits, but worse still, many are chastised by classmates and professors (deliberately or otherwise). Exchange students who constantly walk around with a bewildered gaze and ask, "Could you repeat that?" have difficulty finding research positions & other jobs, and professors (especially in humanities courses, where discussion is a larger portion of the grade) will mark them down, believing that they haven't done the reading or aren't paying attention. It's not fair that these students miss out on choice careers and get bad grades because of their perceived airheadedness; "maintaining the illusion," as I've put it above, gives the students time to become more familiar with the language while keeping embarassment to a minimum.

I figure now would be a good time to demonstrate this with an example. At the beginning of the school year when new students arrive on campus, each dormitory holds social events in order to get to know the freshmen. Last year a bunch of us were sitting around a fire telling horrible jokes. An upperclassmen asked, "Why do you put a baby into a blender feet first? (Pause.) So you can see his expression."

Not the world's funniest joke, obviously. Nobody laughed except for one freshman, a guy just off the boat from Romania, who started roaring with laughter. "HA HA, HA HA HA!" he said, then, after a second, "What is blender?"

Now *that* made people laugh. People still tease him about that to this day. Granted, he shouldn't have pretended to understand and enjoy the joke when he didn't, but if only he had just gone with the flow, or smiled and nodded, he could have saved himself a lot of embarassment.