Posts Tagged ‘news’

Just to compensate for being so rubbish at posting…. 2 in one day!

I was reminded of this idea when I posted about the magazine activity. It’s a nice little warmer/filler or even use towards the end as a competition to finish on a high.

Buy enough copies of the same magazine/newspaper so each pair of students has a copy in your class. Then create a short quiz about stories in the paper, and the students have to use scan read the article to find the answers.

For example:

If there is a story unemployment, a questions could be “how many people are unemployed?”

If there is a picture of Brad Pitt, you could ask “what is the name of Brad Pitt’s new film?”

Obviously the answer has to be in the story, it’s not a general knowledge quiz!

The students then have to flick through the paper and find where the story is (you could include page numbers if you were feeling generous) using headlines and pictures to guide them, then they have to look for specific information.

I tried a similar exercise with an IELTS class, as they were having trouble with the reading section of their exam as they would laboriously read every single word to find an answer and then ran out of time!

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With thanks to Peter Watkins from Portsmouth University who lead this RALSA session and allowed me to post his ideas on here.

Following a recent professional development session lead by Portsmouth University’s Peter Watkins, I came across some great ideas to help with reading lessons. The key idea I took away from it was dont’ test reading, TEACH reading. This idea stuck with me and I used it in my next reading and the students were given a more native approach to reading a text.

Here are some ideas that we discussed in the sesson:

How to deal with vocaulary

Is pre-teaching vocabulary the only solution? Is it always the right solution? Depending on the level, some teachers prefer learners to teach themselves the vocab via context and identifying word type and general meaning. Others provide a glossary as this speeds up the reading and learning process. Studies have shown that the slower you read, the less you understand and bottom up learning isn’t very effective.

In come cultures, if you don’t know the meaning of every single word, they believe that you don’t understand the text. In European English teaching situations, this isn’t the case, but we are still faced with students with heads in dictionaries trying to learn the meaning of every word.

One idea we talked about was allowing the students to ask you the meaning of the words they don’t know. However the whole class can only ask you 8 words (or choose and appropriate number). This encourages negotiation, forces them to choose only the key words and allows peer teaching as they tell each other the words so they don’t waste a question.

At the end of the lesson,s get the students to write down 6 words they want to remember. In two days time, get them to tell their partner the words. See if they can still remember. Then get them to tell each other about how they remember them – the stronger students can teach the weaker students a lot.

Make it personal:    

Are a group of Greek teenagers really interested in thatched cottages in Devon? Probably not.

One solution to this would be to get the students to find their own article online that they find interesting. They could then either present their article to the class, or hand them in to you and *ta-da* you have 13 reading lessons with the materials already provided for you – all you have to do is create the lesson around them.

Get the students to read the text and mark their reactions to it. A tick means they agree, a cross means they disagree, a question mark is something they don’t understand and an exclamation mark is something they found surprising. Anything funny can be a smiley face or a “lol”. The students then compare their reactions and develop and expand their opinions and understanding.


We did talk about a lot of other activities, most of them commonly used (jigsaw readings, restoring damaged texts etc…) but I found these the most interesting as they gave the students a real, authentic way of reacting to the texts. Who here reads a text then searches for specific dates, numbers, people, opinions etc once they have finished. I found that the above activities really taught them to read and react, not test them.

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I read a really interesting article on the BBC Magazine website about people becoming more and more irritated by Americanisms in British English. They listed the 50 most popular complaints and it made for some quite interesting reading.

I have a lot of Korean and South American students, who are all exposed to American English when they are learning, and they find it quite funny that the English aren’t too impressed by American vocabulary or spelling. I thought that doing a lesson looking at this in more detail would appeal to them and is also quite culturally appropriate.

I started the lesson with some extracts from different time period which showed the evolution of the English language. The texts ranged from Beowulf to a poem written in text speak. The students have to order the poems according to time which they should be able to recognise from the language.

We then looked at a reading from the BBC Magazine which was written by an American in reply to a British person’s disgust at Americanisms. We focused on some vocabulary and then a speaking exercise about the evolution of language and the link between culture and language.

I found a great video online with an American TV presenter and Britsh actor Hugh Laurie talking about American and British slang. I got the students to imagine what the slang could be, then we watched the video which had them in giggles at the word “Ba-donka-donk”!

Then we focused on some more specific English-American vocabulary and a cross word seeing as it was a Friday afternoon!

If you’d like to see the materials I used for this lesson, you can download them here:

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I saw this article online about the Indonesian tribal language Dusner being on the verge on extinction. There are only 3 people left in the world who speak the language who are all in their 60s and 70s. They were all recently injured in a natural disaster but thankfully survivied. Linguists at Oxford Uni are now trying to protect the language.

Have a look at one version of the story here: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/TechandScience/Story/STIStory_661278.html

This might make a good topic for a lesson. You could use the text as an authentic reading exercise. Extention tasks could range from an interview with the survivors, a diary of one of the speakers, or a debate on languages. Eg, Will English ever be the world’s only language? Is there a link between language and culture? English is the most important language in the world. It is important to learn several languages etc….

Just thought this text would make for a nice lead in to a discussion. Please let me know what you think and how it went if you use this in your lessons.

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I made a class newspaper with my teenage students today and it was absolutely fab!

I gave them some sections of the paper, but you could do anything you wanted.

I had: Teacher interviews, Group leader interviews, City profile, things to do, excursion and activities, class profile.

You could make it more serious depending on the age and ability of the class.

I assigned two people to be the editors, they had to assign the pages to the other students and one person needed to be a photographer. I gave them a disposable camera and had it developed at lunchtime.

I’m going to bind the original copy to show to other classes as an exmaple, but I photocopied each student a copy to take home with them so they have a permanent reminder of their time here.

Maybe this would be a good creative project for your class to work on?

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I did a lesson using authentic English from the British newspaper ‘The Daily Mail’.

The article is about Ed Stafford, a British ex-army captain, who walked

Ed Stafford took two years to walk the length of the amazon

the length of the amazon river.

Lead In: Hand out pictures of Ed, and ask the students to decide in pairs why they think he is famous. Then tell them why, and hand out the article.

Ideas: Pre teach some vocab, then have the students read through it, and answer the questions on the next page. For a higher level, you could give them a list of the more difficult words and they have to decide word type and write a short definition for it.

Extension; I had the students write out 10 questions to ask Ed about his trip, then they had to interview each other an pretend to be Ed. They could write this up as homework.

You can download my worksheet here: Amazonman

Let me know how it goes!

Latest developments: Channel 5 have produced a film about Ed’s adventures which is available on the demand 5 website. Here is a link to the video which might make a nice extension or a different medium to prestent the topic: http://www.channel5.com/shows/walking-the-amazon

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First things first: I do not know who Jenny is.

But apparently, this is her game.

I tried it for the first time today and couldn’t believe the great results. The students were bouncing around, being very compeitive and really seemed to enjoy it.

I took a story from the news. It wasn’t a major story (although that would work well). You don’t have to use a news story, although I think it helps when the students realise that it’s authentic English.

I took the first 53 words of the story and made a hand-out with 53 empty boxes. Each box must be numbered.

Divide the class into teams of 3-4. Then tell them to listen very carefully. They must not write anything down.

Read the story twice (even at a good level, you should read it twice), clearly, but with normal intonation.

Once they have listened to it twice, each team has to tell you one word from the text (it doesn’t have to be in the correct order). If they are correct, say the word, and the number of the box (good idea to have a master copy of the boxes with a word in each and cross out each word as they say it).

Points: Points don’t mean prizes. If a student gives you a wrong word, or repeats a word, their team gets a point. The team with the most points, loses.

Hint: If they getstuck, give them 5 minutes to work as a team to figure out more words. Remind them to think about pronouns, prepositions, articles.

I made my class give me the correct tense of the verb… if it was wrong, they got a point. The words “a” and “the” were repeated, butthey had to tell me each time they thought there was one. If they told me too many times…points!

I hope my instructions were clear. Let me know how it goes!

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