The #1 …..(authentic material in ELT)

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The Local Newspaper

I’m a big believer in the need and importance of both using authentic materials and current events in our classrooms.  Of all the authentic materials available, I really think the local newspaper an incredible resource at our fingertips (though, strictly speaking, a native speaker is really the #1 authentic material!). Even if in a foreign context, the internet allows you to download English newspapers for use in the classroom. See my blog post here about using “The Metro”‘s pdfs.
The newspaper combines so much that could be used, here’s a list off the top of my head to get some sparks flying in your syllabus development.
1.  Scanning for the main idea. The teacher asks a question and the students scan the newspaper to be the first to get the answer.
2.  Headline matching. Cut out headlines and articles. Glue on one page and photocopy. Students have to read and match correctly.
3.  The weather map. Put the prompt – “what’s the weather like in ….” on the board. Students ask/answer using the map with their group/pair.You can do the same with the stock exchange, foreign exchange, sports scores and other parts of the paper.
4.  The advice column. Students read the question/letter and give their own advice. Later, read what Ann Landers or the advice columnist suggested.
5.  Comics. Read the comics. Cut out and whiteout. Students then write their own content into the bubbles.
6.  Debate. Read an editorial together on a “hot” issue. Divide the class into two and they form arguments and then debate their side.
7.  5ws.  Students read an article and have to answer the 5Ws and present for the class. A great way to introduce journalism and short article writing.
8.  Horoscopes. Students read each others horoscopes. Did they come true?
9.  The Classifieds.  A biggee. Can be used in a multitude of ways. One way I’ve used them is to list items you want to buy. Students search for them and report back to you.  Another way is to give them a budget and have them find an apartment that is appropriate.

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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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