I love using real things for teaching English. By “real things” I mean something from real life – and not something specially developed for learning or teaching. That’s why I prefer usual movies (and not educational ones – they are hardly very exiting, most of the times, usual radio and not “special English” stations, and usual newspapers (not the ones for ESL learners).
Talking about the newspapers, their use in class (and outside too) is limitless. Actually, if you have a newspaper with you, you might never have enough time to even open your coursebook – that black&white double-pages provide tons of material. And not only for reading.
Newspapers can be used for:
jigsaw reading (in a group, assign each student a small extract, then ask them to report on their part and put all the parts into the right order/ for one-to-one putting the parts into the right order would also work greatly)
reading-and–retelling-and-discussing (very close to real life – when you read a newspaper in your language, you would often discuss what you’ve read with your friends or colleagues)
scanning, finding the most interesting bits and extending on them (to be honest, that’s what I usually do with newspapers in English and in my native language- I scan the headlines and read only what catches my eye. So once again this is a highly real-life activity, which is precious for me as a teacher)
working with pictures (before reading articles, you can get the students to predict what the articles are about, or to match the pics to the right headlines. Some pictures can be used without any article at all: you can just show a picture and ask your students to speculate about it)
inventing headlines (ask students to read article(s), think of a good headline(s), then reveal the real one(s). I am sure some of the invented ones would be much better)
inventing articles (asking the students to look at the headlines and to predict what the article is about. Then proceeding to reading and comparing)
playing word race (get the students to find as many good words/collocations/ phrases about something at a newspaper page. e.g. find as many adjectives about cities on this page as you can. It’s fun, engaging, unusual and really promotes new vocab and using dictionaries)
category sorting (cut out several articles from different newspaper sections (business, lifestyle, news, etc) and ask students to decide which articles refer to what section.
translating and interpreting (take a newspaper in a native language of your students and ask them to tell/ write what this or that section/article is about, or arrange a discussion of a news story (written in their native language) in English)
searching&hunting (choose one or several newspaper pages, prepare a list of questions based on the articles or advertisements from them, and get the students to compete in finding more answers faster than the others.)
reading and taking Classifieds seriously (prepare students’ cards with tasks like “buy an unusual piece of furniture”, “find a new housekeeper”…. and ask them to find the most appropriate advertisement on a page/ on several pages. Some strange and funny ads will make your day!)
gap-fill (ask one student in each pair to black out/white out some of the keywords they think are worth knowing, and get the other student to recreate them)
reading and understanding advertisements (ask the students to think of the best way to translate an advertising text, it can be a really challenging, but very engaging, task. or ask them to choose the best advertisement in a magazine. or to study advertisements and to make their own).
starting a discussion (start a lesson with discussing an article, a headline or a photo from a paper. then proceed to all the other work you’ve planned for the same topic. For example, start with an a report of a tsunami in Indonesia, then continue by introducing the topic of natural disasters. or the topic of unlucky travelling experiences. or something else…)
completing articles (cut out the ending paragraphs of an article, give the beginning to the students and ask them to finish it in the way they like. They can then compare their version to the cut out one)
styling and restyling (after students have read and discussed an article, ask them to rewrite it in different styles: as if it was a letter/ as if it was an ad, as if it was radio program, etc)
What else do you think can be done with newspapers to teach English? Please share!