On Teaching News Articles in the ESL Classroom
We are always happy when teachers use our materials here. As a teacher myself, I know how difficult it can be to find just the right article for a class. There is a subtle balance between being easy enough for your students to handle and not being so simple that it cannot hold the students’ interest. When we write these articles our goal is to find that balance.
There are a number of methods out there for teaching ESL with news articles and below I will provide some links to some that you may find helpful.
Over the years I have taught several adult intermediate classes using news articles and here is the method I have found to be quite effective and engaging, yet simple.
First, I give the students the article to study for the following class, so they will have a good understanding of the language of the article by the time they come to the next class.
At the beginning of the lesson, I have the students write for just 10 minutes on a more general but related topic to the article. The students pair up and ask each other about what they have written. Next, I read a paragraph or two of the article and ask if there are any questions they may have about that part before we move on.
This next part is a little dry, but it helps facilitate the exercises that come later. I simply go through the paragraphs and ask questions about the contents–almost one question per sentence. If you have an active or advanced class, you can have the students make the questions themselves. If they are a little less active you can make the questions with missing words and let them figure out what goes in to complete the questions.
After you have covered a significant chunk of text like this you can move on to the fun part–role playing. Here, you have the students act as the characters in the story. There are various techniques you can employ here. The one that I most commonly use is the reporter interviewing the character. The only consideration here is finding a setup that forces your students to use the phrases they have just practiced in the story. When you role play, the students as the character, will naturally have to make adjustments to the target phrases in the article. Depending on the situation, tenses, pronouns, etc. will have to be adjusted to match the new perspective, which makes for great practice.
If you feel the students need more practice you can recast the exercise assigning different roles from the story or even introduce imaginary characters who might have some knowledge of the situation in the story. The only limit is your imagination.
After covering the whole story in this fashion you can hold a debate or a discussion about the article in general. Now with the command of the new vocabulary the students should have more confidence in their ability to talk about the subject.
I would be glad to hear feedback or suggestions.