I'm wondering how it is possible to convey what the above means (what's the matter?) to an adult learner of English at a beginner level. Of course one might say: You use this question when you see that something is wrong and you do not know what, and by asking this question you expect someone to tell you what is going on.

However, I'm not sure if a beginner would understand such an explanation. Do you have any ideas what you would do? Draw a picture?
If you have no common language in which you're both fluent enough to understand very simple sentences then it could be a struggle, no? It seems a difficult idea to convey in a picture. I'd go for some very simple scenarios:

Your friend is crying. You want to know why. You ask her "what's the matter?".


Does the person understand the term 'OK'?

If so, perhaps you could try to show then that 'What's the matter?' and '(Are you) OK?' are very similar.

Best wishes, Clive
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I would use some pictures
maybe a baby crying
somebody with a broken leg
somebody looking depressed/fed up
Somebody with a broken bicycle
and so on
The ask "What's the matter?" before giving the answer
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Thanks guys! Emotion: wink