“Help! How can I answer questions in English?” If this has been your reaction during a conversation, then take notes because we are going to explore some scenarios, how to listen proactively, and answer the questions like a native English speaker would.
Meeting Someone For The First Time
“Hey there, my name is Mike. What is your name?”
“Hi Mike, my name is John.”
“Great meeting you, John. Would you like to have a seat?”
“Yes, that’d be great as I’ve been walking all day. Thank you, Mike!”
Oftentimes, people who learn a new language explain that their ability to answer questions in English is difficult due to time. Simply put, they are slow to reply because they tend to translate the question into their native tongue to understand and then they must translate their answer in English. This process is understandable but overtime, the need to translate will disappear altogether as your language speaking skills and vocabulary improve. Answering questions quickly in English can be achieved by starting with simple questions like, “How are you?” and “what is your name?” and “when is your birthday?” and “what time is it?”, and so on.
When you practice answering questions that are used on a day-to-day basis, it will boost your confidence and ability to reply quickly in conversations. There are many resources online with lists of questions and answers to practice with like this one, for example.
In A Business/Work Setting
“Lisa, what is the current status on this month’s performance report?”
“The report will be ready for presentation by next week. I will send you a copy as soon as it’s finished.”
“Perfect! I look forward to the presentation. Thanks, Lisa.”
“What do you do?” or “What is your job?” or “Where do you work?”
“Mr. Smith, thank you for your interest in this position. Would you please share your previous work experience as Chief Electrical Engineer at Company ABC and how your experience would be an asset to our company?”
As you can see, the answer to the question can be either be short or long, depending on the question being asked. Typically in a business or work setting, answering questions in a polite and professional manner is very important. Next, you want to answer the question in a direct and concise manner, or in other words, provide the facts.
Identify which of the 5 W’s the question requires an answer to: who, what, where, when, why.
“Who do you think will win the most Olympic gold medals this year?”
-That’s a great question. I think the US team will win the most gold medals because they have a big team and their athletes are well-trained.
“What time will you be coming over tomorrow?”
-I will be coming over at noon tomorrow.
“Where shall we go for dinner tonight?”
-I heard there is a new Italian restaurant that makes delicious pizza. Why don’t we go there?
“When will he ask me out on a date?”
-I don’t know. Maybe he is too shy or nervous to ask you.
“Why did you decide to move from Canada to Paris?”
-I decided to move from Canada to Paris because I got a job working in an art museum.
Spending 15-30 minutes a day reading, speaking and writing your answers to questions will familiarize your brain with the appropriate responses. Try a role playing activity with a friend, a family member or teacher. If you don’t have an English teacher, you can sign up to our English learning platform and have access to amazing native English speaking tutors at any time, any place and from any device. Bonus: Your first 15 minutes are free! If you have children and wish for them to learn English, practice with them and even consider Cambly Kids to help them learn to speak English from an early age.
Author: Grace Armani, Cambly Tutor
If you’d like to keep this conversation going with Grace, give her a call on Cambly or make a reservation with her here: https://www.cambly.com/en/student/tutor/Grace%20Armani