New Year’s Contest for Teachers (ended January 16. See last comment for winner!)

Posted on December 19, 2008. Filed under: Blogroll, Contribute your Questions | Tags: |

We need your help, and it should be a lot of fun for all of us, readers and contributors alike. What do we need? We need good questions for our interviewers! If you are not familiar with Real English questions in general, or the ones already used, check out some Real English video lessons.

I say “We need your help” instead of “I need your help” because I am blessed with true friends in several cities who are happy to interview for me. In other words, I organize the filming for Real English and I do the camera and sound work, and a small spontaneous team of close friends from College days comes together for every filming campaign. You could say that the process of getting Real English filming work done is just as spontaneous as the interviews themselves. 

Therefore, the invisible team of friends is one reason why I say “we” and not “I”.  Actually, the interviewers become visible in the “About” video (which needs updating) on the RE site.  The other reason for “we”  is another very close friend who hosts Real English on his servers in New Jersey, USA.  We are very tight. 

Who prepares the questions before we begin asking them? I usually do, but only after getting approval from the interviewer(s).  I get good criticism from them and sometimes half of the questions are changed, eliminated,  or replaced.  The interviewer knows what will “work” in his or her mind. (S)he’s the man.

So – finally, to participate in this contest, imagine you are the interviewer. Write a list of 10 questions for people we will meet on the street soon in south Miami Beach, Florida, USA (SoBe). We’re going to Miami because it’s warm there in the winter, and easier to film, easier for people to stop and talk, and my favorite interviever lives in Sobe in the winter.

On the other hand, speaking about the weather, it  is intereresting to note that the majority of British Passersby stopped to speak with us just as easily in the rain (!), on Westminster Bridge, on cold, horrible, windy days.  New Yorkers haven’t hesitated to stop to speak with us either,  in front of the 5th Ave library,  even in very cold & windy conditions, during February campaings. 

So, to get back to the point: The best entry will receive the complete set of 3 Real English DVD’s with the Workbooks and Instructor’s Guide  in the form of PDF and Word files that you can print out, AND the 3 Real English CD-ROM’s.

Do you use Real English with your students? Have you noticed that we have not covered some of the basic grammar structures? There are many which are missing. Just one example off the top of my head,  “there is” and “there are” are never used.

Don’t forget that the interviewer will ask your questions, or at least some of them, on the street when we meet passersby who agree to sign our release form (almost everybody we approach agrees).

Try to put yourself in 2 sets of shoes at the same time, the interviewer who must engage the people we meet with something interesting.  At the same time, imagine yourself as the English teacher using the questions and answers with your students. What do they need that we have not done yet?  There are lots of possibilities!

Come on, give it a try!  

To enter the contest, write 5 to 10 questions right here in the comments box.
Your first 3 Questions can be (if you like):
1 – Hello. how are you?
2 – What’s your name?
3 – Where are you from?
+ your additional questions

Remember, we try to interview two people at the same time, so the interviewees can also ask each other questions if you write your questions in a certain way. We will also be on a busy street where we can see other people… (Are you getting some ideas?)  Good luck!

I almost forgot: if you’re not familiar with Real English questions in general, or the ones already used, please check out a Lesson page such as


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17 Responses to “New Year’s Contest for Teachers (ended January 16. See last comment for winner!)”

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I would like to have more exemples of english
british accent. I’m very interested by
the way that british people live .
Whay there is so little exemples in british
language of England ? May I write you in french ?
I live in France and my enhlish is very poor!
Thanks for your help and answer.

Merci de ta réponse, Sylvae. Yes, you can write in French if you like. However, this contest is for teachers. Maybe some of them agree with you…
FR: Dans tous les cas, j’ai besoin de 7 questions.
EN: In any case, I need 7 questions.

[…] In the meantime please look at my last post: The Christmas Contest for Teachers […]

OK – This is too difficult. 5 questions is sufficient to enter the contest.

I thought it would be a good idea to talk about something simple, with a relation to your surroundings. Here are my questions:

3 – (instead of “Where are you from?)
Do you live here in Miami?

If yes:
4 – Do you live here in the wintertime only, or all year round?

5 – If winter only:
Where do you live in the summer?

6 – If you had to choose one place to live only, which would you choose. Why?

If answer to 4 is “all year round?”:
7 – Do you prefer to be here in the winter or summer? Why?

8 – If you could live anyplace in the world, where would you live? Why?

9 – Do something so that they use “he” and “she” instead of “I”. For example, “Look at that man over there. What’s he doing/wearing/? etc.. according to the situation.

10 – You said that you will have 2 people at the same time. Ask one of them, “What’s been the best moment you have spent with (name of other person). Why?

James, that’s an excellent list. I hope other teachers will follow your lead!

Hum, Mike, it’s hard, isn’t it to find the perfect questions…

1. Are you originally from Miami?
2. If the answer is no. Where are you from?
3. What brings you here? (interesting question because we don’t see that in books and this is something people ask me when I meet them and in Immigration)
4. Do you consider yourself a forgiving kind of person?
5. What would you do if you found out that your best friend has lied to you?

1. Look around. Who would you consider a fashionable person on the street?
2. What called your attention to his/her style?
3. Are there any accessories he/she is wearing that stand out?
4. Do you consider yourself a stylish person? Why/why not?
5. Which famous person is really in nowadays?

Hi Carla – It really is hard. And you never know what the good questions will be until you try them out with quite a few people. You try to keep the people interested, and also end up with something really useful for your students (stuff that’s good enough to add to your video library).

I really like your questions, especially “What brings you here?” and the two hard questions: 4 and
“5. What would you do if you found out that your best friend has lied to you?”

We have been very hard on interviewees, asking them very personal questions, such as “What do you hope to achieve before you die?”.

I also like James’s hard question:
“What’s been the best moment you have spent with (name of other person). Why?

If we ask your question 5 and James’s question 10 many times with at least a hundred couples on the street, we will end up with with all sorts of verb tenses used in the answers, and could probably make one version for beginners or low intermediate students, and a second edit for more advanced levels.

I can’t wait to get back into the street with new questions, and then into editing.

Merci and Big Bises from France

Mike, I think this could be a good approach, trying to mingle the questions here. I’m sure you have a lot of work when you are on SoBe streets to get the right mood, have people say things that might be useful for a lesson. Not an easy task, but fun and challenging too!

I’m still thinking of other possibilities that could help you. Things that I listen to here which are not part of students’ books.

There’s one question that I hear all the time, but have seen in scripted classes.

Like in this example:

– Where are you from?
– Brazil
– Whereabouts?

I’ve never seen the Whereabouts questions in books and it’s so common to talk about parts of a country and neighborhood!

Will try to come up with other questions.


Thanks again Carla!

Great questions so far!!!
Difficult task for me to find better ones.

4-What is your favourite place in this city/town?
6-What can you do there?
7-Have you ever been to (name another place in town)?
8-Do you like it ?
10- If you could go to another country? Where would you go? Who with ? Why?

Thanks Susana! I was afraid there would be no more replies. We really appreciate your questions. More news soon!

January 7, 2009 replied at:
at the bottom of the page.

I didn’t know how to send you some questions for the Interviews, so I’ve made use of this space.
1. Is there a famous monument we can visit in this city?
2. Are there any good museums in this city?
3. Do you usually vist museums in this city?
4. Was there a cinema in this city in the 70’s?
5. Were there many good films on at the movies when you were a teenager?
6. What will there be in that place in front of that building?

James Harold is the winner for having the most number of usable questions, according to myself and 2 interviewer friends. James, please send your postal address to mike at

Officially there is only 1 winner, but to express my appreciation, Carla, Susana and Jesualdo, I will be happy to send you the Real English DVDs (engraved by myself, in simple wrapping, instead of the commercial versions), especially since we will probably be using at least one of your questions on our next campaign. Please send me your postal addresses.

Thank you all so much. The next time you hear from me on this subject will be when we edit and upload one or more of your questions in the new 2009 video collection.

I cannot believe this will work!

Cool site, love the info.

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