Using Newspapers in the TEFL Classroom As Authentic Reading Material
Oct 15, 2016 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 2943 Views
Many new ESL teachers ask me what is a useful thing to bring with them in their suitcase prior to coming to teach English as Foreign Language here in China. Among the many things I tell them to bring is a few newspapers, and here's why...
Newspapers are a cheap, readily-available resource of authentic reading material which can be used in a whole host of ways in the ESL classroom! Newspapers can provide a window to English speaking countries; whats going on in the news, music, sports, business, entertainment, politics and current affairs.
Before, it was thought that using newspapers from native-speaking countries is only useful in a class with advanced level students. Now although admittedly there are more things you can do with newspapers in an advanced English class, there are still lots of interesting activities you can use newspapers for in your Intermediate and Elementary classes.
Bringing English language newspapers into the classroom is sure to bring smiles onto your students faces and they will be excited to flick through the pages. Below are some ideas to turn that natural enthusiasm and interest into quality activities with which to teach English:
Activities for Beginners
o Student A chooses a photo of a street scene and cuts it out. Student A then describes without showing to Student B what is happening in the picture using simple vocabulary i.e. car, man, shop, walking, dog, policeman, etc, and prepositions of place, for example, next to, in front of, opposite, behind, etc. Student B either has to draw it or write down what Student A describes. At the end, both students can compare drawings or notes for accuracy.
o The teacher reads a few football scores from the sports page and students have to write down what they hear.
o Find the financial section and practice saying some of the larger numbers. Many beginner ESL students struggle to say numbers which are too high and here in China, they have a different system altogether using units of 10,000 called 'wan'. There is no word for 'a million' - they use 100 'wan'!
o Cut out a photo of a celebrity or other interesting photo and ask students to write or say some sentences about the photo. Teach new vocabulary where possible.
o Find the weather forecast and role-play a weather report on the news, for example, in London it will be foggy
Activities for Intermediate Students
o Cut out some headlines and then chop up the headlines into individual words. students have to get the headlines back into the correct order.
o Match headlines to pictures.
o Students have to look at a photo and write their own short article.
o Often in newspapers, there are 'In Brief' sections; short snippets of interesting or unusual news in under 100 words. The teacher should divide the class into groups and had out a different one to each group. the group then make a short role-play about the topic of the snippet.
o Make a True or False worksheet about an article. Give a short article to students to look through for 10 minutes and then hand-out the T/F worksheet as a reading comprehension exercise.
o Have students circle words they don't know and then find the meaning of these words for homework.
Activities for Advanced Students
o Find adverts in the newspaper and discuss language used for advertising, for example, 'bargain', 'sale ends tomorrow', 'rock-bottom prices', etc. have your English students make up their own TV ad in the classroom using the language from the newspaper.
o Give out a different photo from the newspaper to every student in the class. Each student has to write a short paragraph to go with each picture. After 10-15 minutes, take each short paragraph and stick them with sticky tape on the whiteboard. Then take back all the photos, shuffle them up, and give them back to the group. Your class then has to come around the whiteboard, sticking the correct photo to the correct article.
o Often in papers, there are reader letters or emails to comment on the stories. As homework, ask each student to email the editor of the newspaper to give their opinions on the story. The students should copy you into the email so you have a record of who did the homework assignment and also so you can do any error correction later.
o Compare the same story from English newspapers with local newspapers. Do the stories match? Are the details different? Please be aware of customs, especially here in China. I would advise to stick to sports, fun stories or other non-sensitive issues.
o Re-create in role-play a major event from the newspaper. Have reporters, eye-witnesses, etc. If you have a camcorder, you could film it and have the students watch their own performances. This is also good for error correction. Have a camera? Pop pictures of the performances on the classroom wall or email them back to friends and family!
o Why not bring a tabloid paper and a broadsheet paper of the same day and compare the different language used. Discuss who tabloids are for and who broadsheets are for. Set up a debate about which one is better. Do students want tabloids in their city? Why, why not?
HAVE FUN! BRING A NEWSPAPER TO TEFL CLASSES!!!