One of the most important goals as teachers is to cause students to do as much of the cognitive work – the writing, the thinking, the analyzing, and the talking – as possible. Asking why or how instantly pushes more and more rigorous work onto students by forcing them to explain the problem or discussion at hand.
You must distinguish between participation and critical thinking questions, and you need to have a mix of both throughout your class. A participation question would be a question like, “Who can tell me the first step? “What is the definition of ecstatic?” “What do I do next?” However, critical thinking questions ask “Why do you think he did that?” “How would you feel if you were in his position?” Follow up the answers to these questions by asking other students for agreement. For example, “Tony, do you agree with what Richard said?” “Why do you think that?”
The end goal here is that the instructor uses this line of questions frequently enough so that students will begin to express their agreement or disagreement with another student’s opinion and justify themselves with minimal instructor facilitation. Getting to that point is one of the most difficult things to do in an EFL classroom, but creating the environment to make it a possibility is what instructors should strive to do.