Using free “subway” newspapers in our classes

Today, I’m in Vancouver and gorging on newspapers and English reading. One thing I read was the Metro newspaper and I got to thinking of times I’ve used it in my own teaching.

The Metro newspaper is a real newspaper, an authentic material (and read my comprehensive post on authentic materials in the EFL Classroom for more ideas) that teachers all over the world can use in their teaching. It is now available in a nice PDF version. Use the US. or Canadian versions for English.  Just open the issuu flash ebook and select “download pdf” . You can even select specific pages and not the whole paper (in most cases).   Here’s an example from today’s Toronto paper. metronewsexample
The Metro is a subway/transit magazine. As such, it is written in very simple English. Newspapers traditionally have been very hard to use in the English as a second language classroom. Too idiomatic, too filled with colloquialisms and local language and flavor. The Metro is different and very useable in our classrooms!
In my own teaching, I’d always bring in a stack for the classroom each day. Mostly because I really believe it our duty and not just the duty of a social science teacher – to involve our students in the world around us (see this presentation – The Top 10 Reasons to use Current Events in the Classroom as my argument). It is important to get students aware of the world outside their own social circle. My students always used these newspapers informally and now teachers all over the world can use the Metro in their own classrooms.
Here is today’s PDF version for Toronto as an example. (just click the issue and then the download icon at the top)  Lots of ways you might use it. Here are some:
1. D.E.A.R. – Drop Everything And Read sessions. Print and give articles/pages to student to read for 5 minutes of self sustained reading.
2. Read and Tell: Students read one article and then jigsaw into groups and share what they read.
3. 5 Ws. Students read an article and find the 5 Ws of it. Then share their reporting with the class.
4. As a daily start to the day/lesson. What’s the top story? Read together.
5. Horoscopes/ads/Advice/Recipes: use these as the basis of lessons in your class or activities.
So much more! Now, what was once only available to ESL teachers, is now available to EFL teachers – all due to the power of technology and all free!


Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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4 Responses

  1. 泉川一生 says:


  2. Alex Case says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve recommending Metro to students for years, but the only practical suggestion I could make was that they should pick up as many copies as they could while they were in London on holiday. Such good news that it’s in PDF. I wonder if the British version is too

  3. ddeubel says:

    Haha! I hope it is but maybe on a different site? New technology has made it much easier for print to be converted to pdf and that benefits learners in many ways.

    I like how a teacher can take an issue and print out particular articles.

    Great advice to students. Metro is useful because it really isn’t “authentic” but quite purified and probably made with a vocabulary of under 3,000 words. Plus, not only news but all that gossip, sport jazz too.

  4. I’m definitely going to use the newspaper AND some of the activities you proposed david. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m a true believer in the need to use as much (if not only) authentic material in the ELT classroom.

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