To help students produce writing with a higher occurrence of lexical variation, complex sentences and appropriate use of passive structures.

Time: One hour plus homework


  1. Your Own Version - Worksheet
  2. Original News Story - Worksheet
  3. Language Analysis – How to write a good news story - Worksheet
  4. Complex Sentences – a chart - Worksheet
  5. Homework
  6. Answer Key  

Teacher’s notes

If you’re teaching this as a “one-off” you may want to provide some form of introduction. Give a quick warm up/ orientation to newspapers. Depending on your style of teaching you might consider one of the following:

  1. Collect together six newspaper headlines. Black out one word in each. Put the class into two teams and one by one hold/flash up the headlines. The team who guesses the closest word gets the point etc.
  2. A quick discussion on the merits of newspapers versus television or radio.
  3. Scramble the short sentence in step one on the board and let the students unscramble it to make the story.


  1. Write the short sentence from the worksheet Your Own Version' on the board (A youth was sentenced for driving a stolen car). Tell students that this is a news story and and ask how it could be more interesting. (Elicit the answer “more detail!”)
  2. Give out ‘Your Own Version’ and allow 15 minutes (more if necessary) for answering the questions and writing the story. Emphasise that they will be making the story more interesting by adding detail. You could give the option of doing this in pairs.
  3. Change the pace by getting pairs to tell each other their versions. They can use any means necessary to keep their audience’s interest, but hopefully they will do it by including relevant details and animated telling.
  4. Give out the ‘Original News Story’ and allow time for them to compare for differences. Round off this step by sharing some of the differences in an open class discussion and then move on to asking open class questions about the language used in the original news stor.

Notice the following:

  1. The variety of vocabulary;
  2. The use of some passive sentences;
  3. Long complex sentences – sometimes one sentence for a whole paragraph.


  1. Tell your students that these features (a,b,c) help make a good news story. Give out the ‘Language Analysis’ (2 sheets) and explain that working through these will help them identify the language you are talking about. Monitor and check as you desire and get students to compare their complex sentences to answers in the original news story.
  2. You can give out ‘Complex sentences – a chart’ either to help with step 5 or afterwards for future reference for their homework.
  3. Give out their Homework.


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