Number one for English language teachers

Using the news: brainstorming

Type: Reference material

Some brainstorming activities to use in your class.

What’s going on in the world?

This can be done as a whole class activity, but I prefer to get students into groups of 4 – 6  with a large piece of paper and a number of marker pens per group.

Ask students to think of all the news stories they have read or seen on the TV news recently and write them down in English in note form e.g. earthquake in the Congo. This can be done as a competition – set a time limit and the group with the most news stories is the winner.


  • to foster cooperation
  • to allow students to bring outside knowledge that is not linguistic into the classroom
  • while not apparently a language activity, some useful vocabulary like disaster, volcano, coup etc will come up
  • to provide material for further discussion e.g. students can then rank the events in order of importance to them or to the world in general

What’s in a newspaper?

Allow students to use the newspapers and ensure dictionaries were available for them too.

Set up like the brainstorming above, this time students must think of all the different types of story, information that newspapers contain: international news, local news, politics, horoscopes, sport, gossip etc


  • to encourage scanning skills
  • to encourage students to seek out and understand new vocabulary independently
  • to get students used to finding their way around an English language newspaper

A follow on activity can be to compare these newspapers and the ones in your own country. Are there as many photographs? as much international news? Was there anything here that was a surprise? Again in groups, students can be asked to find five differences and share them with the rest of the class.

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