Number one for English language teachers

Using the news: reading 1

Type: Reference material

A news-based reading activity chosen by the teacher.

Choose an article from a newspaper with a strange title that will inspire the students’ imagination e.g. Man bites dog, Letter found after a hundred years.

Step 1

With a long headline chop up and jumble the words, with a short one play hangman – students must find the headline.


  • generate interest

  • generate security through an easy task

Step 2

Ask students what questions they have about the story. Write about 10 questions on the board. Ask them to guess what the answers are. (This is usually great fun as students realise you’ll accept any ideas, as long as they are in English, however bizarre.)


  • get students predicting

  • elicit language and ideas

  • set own questions

  • have fun, be imaginative

Step 3

Students read the article and underline the parts that answer the questions they set and discover if their predictions were true


  • practise scanning text and finding specific information

  • get a sense of achievement from having guessed correctly or laugh at how different the reality was

Step 4 (optional)

Students read through carefully and choose two unknown words that they want to know the meanings of and either look up in dictionaries or ask the teacher.

Step 5: speaking

In any article there will be a protagonist – the man whose pig was stolen, the burglar who got caught by a child etc. Students in groups write questions to ask that person, then act out TV or newspaper interviews with them. These can be taped and listened to later or acted out in front of the class. (Never force children to do things in front of the whole class. It could be deeply embarrassing for them, always ask them if they want to first).


  • consolidating / practising language introduced in the article

  • an opportunity to incorporate intonation and body language into language practice

  • through role play shyer students often find a ‘voice'

  • FUN

Step 6: writing

Write a better headline for the story

  1. Write the protagonist’s confession/diary/e-mail message about the event to a friend (let the students choose – better something short that they have chosen to do themselves and often better written, than something longer and written unenthusiastically chosen by you)


  • consolidating / practising language introduced in the article

  • allowing for imagination

  • if students write in pairs or groups, they can help each other with ideas, vocabulary and grammar

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