Rude/Stupid/Crazy Questions

by Hall Houston

Level: Intermediate

Age group: Young adults, adults

Practices: Reading, writing, listening and speaking

You will need: Outline of a boring lecture, large sheets of paper, pens


This off-the-wall activity allows students to turn the tables on their teacher. It takes students into unfamiliar territory, inviting students to ask a diverse range of questions. DO NOT try it if you think it will create problems (or if you don’t have a sense of humor). However, I think it is a fun, motivating activity that gives students practice asking questions and making appropriate responses. If you’ve been working with your students on interrogatives, this might be an invigorating way to provide some fluency practice. Alternatively, if you’ve been strictly following the coursebook with your class for a number of weeks, it might make for a refreshing change of pace.


1. Before class, prepare a brief lecture on a topic you know your students will find extremely boring. (When I do this activity, I teach them the alphabet, going into tedious detail about how to write and pronounce each letter.)


2. At the beginning of class, write three words on the board in big letters: RUDE STUPID CRAZY


3. Tell the class that you want them to think of some questions that are rude, stupid and crazy. Give them an example of each kind of question. (A few examples: a rude question – “Why are you so fat?”, a stupid question – “Do you have a nose?”, a crazy question – “Do you plan to fly under the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday?”)


4. Next, put them in groups of 4 or 5. Ask each group to write down at least 5 of each type of question.


5. When each group has produced enough questions, announce that you are going to give a lecture, and you want them to loudly interrupt at any time with their questions. If you have a somewhat reticent class, you should emphasize that you expect them to interrupt you frequently.


6. Begin your lecture. Once the questions begin, you can either produce an answer or respond with an appropriate exclamation such as “HOW RUDE!” or “WHAT A STUPID QUESTION!” or “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT!” As you continue your lecture, act progressively annoyed by the students until you stop the lecture entirely.


7. Call on several students to recall some of your responses to their questions. Write these up on the board, making corrections if necessary. Also, ask students to come up with some additional responses. You can inquire “What would you say to an extremely rude question?” or “How would you respond to a stupid question?” Write their ideas on the board as well.


8. Next, divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one type of question. Each group sends a representative to visit the other groups and collect all the questions in their category. Then the groups each make a large poster which contains all the examples of one type of question. Ask the groups to put the posters up on the walls when they’re finished.


9. Invite students to stand up and wander around. They need to go to each poster and put a check mark next to the 3 best questions on each poster (the rudest, stupidest, and craziest questions).


10. Take the two questions with the most checks from each poster (that’s six questions in all) and write them up on the board. Work together with the class to correct any errors. Drill the questions together with the class.


11. Ask students to work in pairs and practice asking each other the questions on the board. They can use some of the responses you put up on the board earlier.


12. Put students into pairs to create a short dialogue using some of the language used in the activity. However, students need to provide different roles and a different context for the dialogue. Call on a few pairs to perform their dialogues for the class.
This lesson plan originally appeared in the Autumn Issue of the TESOL Spain newsletter.