ICQs, not to be confused with CCQs, stand for Instruction Checking Questions and are an important skill to master for any teacher. The concept for ICQs is that once you have set up an activity, you check whether the students understand the instructions for what they have to do next.
What would be some good ICQs f you were setting up an activity where students have to talk to their partner about their weekend for 2 minutes? Covering details in your ICQs are important. For example, “How long will you talk for?”, “What will you talk about?”, and “Who will you talk to?” This is about as basic as it can get. Make sure to only have around 2-3 ICQs per task as students can get flustered with having to answer many questions they may already know all the answers to. Pick and choose the most difficult concepts and remember that it isn’t important to cover all the little details of an activity. If you have set your activity up well, then there should be almost no need for ICQs, right?
You want to do ICQs right before an activity starts. If students do not understand your ICQs or seem confused about the activity, go over and demonstrate it one more time. There is nothing wrong with repeating your instructions and it is much better than starting an activity with confused students. For your CELTA, you will want to pre-plan your ICQs and look for intended responses. Even today I still plan a lot of my ICQs for more difficult activities. You will find over time that some particular ways of wording your ICQs work really well with certain groups of students.
Here are some example ICQs that I use almost daily.
How much time do you have for the activity?
Who will you talk to? How many people will you talk to?
What will do you when you’re finished? What will you do after ____?
Are you writing? Are you talking?
What language will you use? What will you say?
How many questions are there?
ICQs should be tailored for the task you are doing. It may seem like a strange concept to begin with which is why it is a good idea to pre-prepare them for each task in the beginning. Eventually, it will become a natural skill. Practice makes perfect!