Question-making practice through sales role-play

Hi again! This is a bit of a lesson idea I’ve been using with folks of all kinds.

1. Teacher says:

Think about 3 objects.

Briefly describe their qualities.

Choose one feature that is unique of each object.

Choose one object and try to sell it to the person next to you.

2. Get some feedback, and let students comment on how successful their sales were.

3. Ask students how many questions they asked their ‘clients’ while trying to sell their objects.    

< In my lessons the answer has been usually ‘zero’; that’s why I think this is a good lesson idea, see next >

4. Ask them to prepare some questions about another object. Questions that sell!

< a bit of a challenge sometimes, with questions like ‘do you want this watch?’; which takes us to the next step >

 5. Raise students awareness of feeling, rapport and experience in sales strategies (or use appropriate jargon). Encourage them to include these elements in the questions. It’s good to give some examples. E.g. What qualities do you look for in a watch?

< after you explain, give them time to create the questions >

6. Following is the bit where you give some language input.

Introduce, elicit, review, whatever suits you, the following:

  • Negative questions. Don’t you think it would be great if you…? Wouldn’t life be easier if…? 
  • Question Tags. It would be great if you could… , wouldn’t it?
< it’s good to keep these questions attuned to the feeling/experience idea instead of to the objective features of the object >


7. Students try again with the other objects and with different ‘clients’, now using their well-crafted questions and noticing what kind of answer they incite.

Why I like this lesson:

  • It raises students’ awareness of how language can be manipulated to serve one’s purpose, and how they can pay more attention to marketing and sales language.
  • In a subtle way, it practices ‘thinking’ about how to effectively ask questions. By being specific and with a clear outcome, good questions can incite better answers.
  • It places the grammar bit in an engaging context.
  • But the main reason I like it is because my students like it ;-). I hope yours like it too.
You can find question models here:
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