Levels: strong pre-intermediate to advanced.
Scope: teens; adults.
Type: reading from whole newspapers; conversations about the news.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing.
Language focus: grammar and vocab structures from the ‘papers.
Preparation/Materials: bring some recent newspapers into class, enough either for each student or for each pair of students.
- Board a couple of headlines from the newspaper. Elicit what kind of story they are (political, animal, funny, weird, green, etc.)
- Elicit other categories of newspaper story from your students. Aim to get about 15 different story types – you can add more if necessary.
- Ask your students on their own to choose a type of story they would like to read. Ask them to keep this type secret for now.
- Show your students the newspapers and explain/ elicit that they are going to quickly look through the paper trying to find stories of the type they have chosen. When they find a story of this type, they should read more closely and make notes to help them remember what the story was about. Elicit that they should not just copy chunks of the article when they write their notes, but should always use their own words.
- Distribute the newspapers, or newspaper halves if you have enough only for each pair.
- Circulate and help with any unknown vocabulary, if other students can’t help.
- Once the students have found and made notes on a story of their type, put them together in groups of 4.
- In their groups, ask them to share the information they have found. Encourage listening students to ask questions at this stage.
- This activity can lead into a discussion on news values and the order and choice of stories in newspapers. It can also remind students that newspapers contain many different types of story and are therefore usually an interesting and varied resource for reading practice.
- Ask the students if they enjoyed the activity and would like to repeat it sometimes.
Acknowledgement: I have adapted this idea from Newspapers by Peter Grundy (Oxford Resource Books for Teachers, 1993).