Teaching Hong Kong L2 learners wh-questions: Using a learning study approach

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Many ESL and EFL learners find wh-question formation difficult to master despite the fact that wh-interrogatives are a commonly used structure. Through using a Learning Study approach, this study aims to identify Hong Kong ESL learners' difficulties with wh-question formation, to explore effective strategies to enhance the instruction, and to investigate the learning outcomes as a result. Quantitative data were collected from three Hong Kong Secondary 3 classes through a written test and an oral test, and qualitative data from discussion at teachers' meetings, research lesson observation, student interviews, and post-lesson conferences. It was found that Hong Kong learners' L1 transfer problems are an important inhibiting factor in their learning of English wh-interrogatives. The most serious learning problems found include Chinese interference with word order and failure to use correct verb phrase structures. The research team, through the Learning Study research cycle, succeeded in designing appropriate contexts and using variation patterns for presenting and practicing interrogative structures. Successful outcomes were evident in the gradual improvement of the design of the three research lessons and significant progress by students in their learning of wh-interrogatives. Copyright © 2012 The Asian Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-197
JournalJournal of Asia TEFL
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Lee, J. F. K. (2012). Teaching Hong Kong L2 learners wh-questions: Using a learning study approach. Journal of Asia TEFL, 9(1), 171-197.


  • Interrogative
  • Learning study
  • Wh-question


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