Newspapers, copyright issues notwithstanding, are one of the most powerful aids to teaching foreign languages, especially where adults are concerned, as many are likely to read them in their own language and are often interested in how the same news item is reported in the English-language press.
While simply reading 'em is the most obvious use that can be made of them, together with practising skimming and scanning skills, "mere" comprehension can be developed more actively into summary writing and discussion. And, of course, headlines are great for compound nouns. Combining many of the previously mentioned activities is the typical match-the-headline-with-the-(short)-text exercise.
One entertaining exercise is to give cloze test versions of an article which students can then self-correct comparing theirs with the original. Ditto correcting mistakes, where the teacher introduces a number of factual errors for students to detect. With more advanced students, online editions are great for exercises involving copyediting, proofreading, etc. Readers of The Grauniad may well have noticed that digital spellcheckers have reduced the number of typos on the printed page, but this teflpedia editor is increasingly dismayed by the increasing number of typos to be found on the hastily (?) drafted digital editions of much media - one of the worst offenders being my beloved BBC... The previous comment is the freely expressed opinion of this editor and in no way reflects the editorial line of teflpedia...
Another possibility is the use of a local English-language newspaper. While they are sometimes well-produced, they may also be replete with typical local-language mistakes such as false friends and grammatical errors. Asking the students as groups to look for and correct these errors can be an instructive exercise.
Opinion tends to be split about the advisability of using UK newspaper headlines in class. They typically use wide range of painful puns; alteration; cultural references from national television programmes and a specially reduced form of grammar. As a consequence they can take some minutes to explain and nay humour they may have contained will have drained away long before the explanation has finished.
Some teachers will take the line that this is a golden opportunity to talk about the language and culture in depth; others will maintain that it is unnecessarily confusing and does not add much to the students' understanding.
- Authentic language
- Content-Based Instruction
- Create a topical class
- The Economist
- Style guide
- The Times: An English reader