I think this is a great idea for the budding bilingual. Not just because these kinds of questions promote higher order thinking skills (analysis, evaluation etc), but mainly because they break the routine.
You can read the full article here.
So why is breaking the routine important for a budding bilingual, especially in a monolingual country? Have you ever been told that your child will become bilingual because they have one foreign parent? I can understand the assumption, but I think I can also debunk the myth that it is.
Probably every family has a routine. One person picks up the kids, one cooks, one watches TV etc. Conversation is sometimes superficial at best, and the routine develops patterns of behaviour and of speech. These patters can cause a family to exist in a sitcom, where the interactions are all but decided. Now take a child who is fluent in these routine forms of communication and the context that supports them. Take them out of the routine and place them in a different context. How likely are they to be capable of fluent interaction in this new environment?
Obviously this is an extreme example. Parents do break their routines, but raising a child bilingually requires that you perhaps break the routines of speech much more often. This happens when you do something fun like go for a walk, build a cardboard fort or just take the nipper for an ice-cream, but those sorts of events can’t happen every day, so there is a real need for the conscious breaking of the routine modes of communication.
Asking “How was school?” every day is unlikely to elicit an interesting response. It is also a missed communication activity. I’m not so good at consciously using the types of questions described in the article. My specialty is the use of ridiculous comments and songs which seem to provoke interest and are fun at the same time. I think I’ll try the zombie apocalypse question from the article. Right up my street.