Authentic materials are always a good thing to use and newspaper reports are a great resource to use in the ESL classroom.
Consider These 7 Ideas for Using Newspapers in Class
Copy newspaper articles and their headlines and separate them – use a different newspaper for each group of 3 or 4 students. Ask each group to match the articles to the correct headlines. When they’ve matched them give the relevant newspaper to the groups and ask them to find the report and check if they have chosen the correct headline for the story.
Reporting a Story
For homework ask your students to get hold of a copy of a newspaper. Many towns and cities have free papers and they may be able to use one from their host family – it doesn’t need to be that day’s paper. Ask them to look through the paper and find an article that interests them – it could be on sport, music, celebrity culture or current affairs whatever they’re interested in. Tell them that they will be reporting what they have read in class the next day. If students are a little shy about reporting to the whole class you could put them in groups of 3 or 4 and they can report to each other. This exercise is a good way for students to learn about each other’s interests and also an excellent way of practising reported speech.
What Questions Would You Ask?
Find some newspaper stories that are to do with a change in someone’s circumstances or about something that has had a huge impact on someone’s life. In pairs ask your students to read the article. Explain that they are going to role play an interview about this article. One student will play the part of a reporter sent to interview the person and the other the person themselves. The reporter has to create questions that they would like to ask and the other student should think about how they would feel if they were in the situation described in the article. They should then role play the interview. They can then swap roles using another article.
In groups of 3 students should be asked to find a newspaper report or editorial about a topic that they feel strongly about. As a group they should then prepare a presentation on the topic to present to the class. Ask them to include background information, why they feel strongly about it and if appropriate how they would solve the problem or change the situation. There should then be a question and answer session followed by a class discussion on the topic.
Using Online Newspapers
If your students have access to an IT room put them into groups of 3 preferably in groups of nationality. Give them prompts for an international news item and ask them to look for a report on that topic in a British online newspaper or use the BBC website. Then ask them to look at a report on the same topic in their own national newspapers and do a comparison of the views reported. Although students will be using their first language to read the reports in their own country’s newspapers they will then have to report on it in English. It is also a good method of practising the language of comparison and contrast.
Put students in groups of 4 or 5. Give each group a different section of a newspaper. Ask each group to write 10 questions that are relevant to this section. When they have completed their questions they should pass the questions and the newspaper section that they refer to, to another group. The other group should then try and answer the questions by finding the necessary information in the newspaper.
Mix and Match
Cut newspaper articles into paragraphs and scatter them throughout the class. Put the students in pairs and give them the headline of the article they need to find. Students then have to find the other paragraphs that make up the whole article. Tell them how many paragraphs they need for each article and that they need to focus on looking for parallel vocabulary. They may need to negotiate with other students to get the paragraphs they need.
Activities using newspapers can provoke discussion, give great speaking and reading practice and give students the chance to use their own interests in class activities.
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