10+ Variations on PQA

Updated December 27, 2017

PQA (Personalized Questions & Answers) is a mainstay in many TPRS and CI-based classrooms. However, you might want to change it up every now and again. In this post you will find several variations on PQA that will look different even though the basics of going slow, getting repetitions, digging deeper, etc. will remain the same. If you would like a refresher on the basics of PQA and some general tips for success, I would suggest that you read this article first.

Different Ways of Doing PQA 1 / 2

  • Drawings: Have students illustrate their answer to a PQA question 3. Once students are done drawing, find an interesting illustration and start discussing it (while confirming details with the student, asking circling questions, etc.). If you have a document camera, project the image for the class. This is an excellent method of doing PQA for new CI teachers because the drawings give something concrete to talk about. There are many things that the students could draw such as their families, their favorite food, what they did over vacation, etc. 4. Click below for some post-PQA activities that you can do with their drawings 5.
Extension Activities
  • Polling: Try a poll or survey and discuss the results. You could use technology for doing the poll such as Poll Everywhere, or you stay low-tech and simply ask students to raise their hands or go to one side of the room for a specific answer. Students could also write their answers on post-it notes that you can then use to create a bar graph (more info here). Graphing is a great way to be cross-curricular!
  • Four corners: The teacher projects a slide with a question with 2-4 possible answers. These answers could be as simple as I agree/disagree or I like/dislike. Students then move to the corner of the room that corresponds with their answer. Once students are in their corners, you have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions about the students’ responses. Andrea Brown and Megan Smith have some ideas of how to use this activity for different topics. Furthermore, Kristy Placido sells posters with possible answers to use for this activity, and Maestra Henderson has 4 posters as well. Finally, Allison Wienhold’s class came up with a small competitive twist that you may somehow work into regular PQA.
  • People searches: People searches are a classic from old-school communicative language teaching. While it is an output activity, the affective filter is low because the output is highly structured. After the people search is complete, you are then able to use the students’ answers as a springboard for PQA. Read more details on Martina Bex’s blog.
  • Gallery walk: Large posters are placed around the room with PQA questions and sentence frames. As groups or as individuals, students walk around the room and respond to the questions. Then the teacher leads a class discussion about the responses 7 / 8. For example, choose an answer and ask students to guess who wrote it. Once you’ve determined who wrote it, ask follow up questions. A somewhat freer version of this activity is a graffiti wall.
  • Hide and speak: Write a bunch of questions on index cards. Hide the cards around the room before students arrive. Then, divide the class into teams and send the students on a hunt for the card. For the rest you will have to visit Martina Bex’s blog.
  • PQA walk & talk: Give each student a question. The goal is for the students to ask their question to every student in the class and record some of the answers. After students are done asking their questions, choose some students to share their question and some answers they received. Then continue the PQA conversation 9.
  • Step forward, step backward: This idea is from Cynthia Hitz. The teacher reads a statement in the TL and students step forward or backward depending on the directions. For example, “if you have two or more cats, take a step forward.” The teacher can then use PQA to extend the discussion and provide additional comprehensible input.
  • Visitor PQA: Have a student play the role of a celebrity, movie character, a class-created character, someone from the class novel, etc. Have them come up to the front of the room and do a PQA session with them.


  1. Jennifer Gonzalez, The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies (2015).
  2. Anne Marie Mitchell, How I Plan a K-2 Lesson… Building Blocks – PQA (2017).
  3. For elementary students, if their drawings are too difficult to interpret, Anne Marie Mitchell suggests making it a game to guess or walk around while they are drawing and write what it is at the bottom of the paper.
  4. Martina Bex, Soliciting [Illustrated] Responses (2013).
  5. Martina Bex, TPRS 101, Step Six: Give it a try! (2016)
  6. Dustin Williamson, The Power of Play-doh in the WL Classroom (2017).
  7. Martina Bex, Gallery Walk (2013).
  8. Martina Bex, Get Them Talking! (2013).
  9. Dustin Williamson, PQA Walk and Talk (2016).

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