Creating a Newscast ESL Lesson

Newscast Set
Newscasts. ColorBlind Images / Blend Images / Getty Images

Media is an ever-present reality and one that students are intimately familiar with. As such, diving into the media landscape offers multiple avenues for interesting lessons that will hold students' attention. You can start by studying media-related words so that students are familiar with the basics. From there, lesson plans can revolve around anything from watching news videos on YouTube to publishing a class newspaper.

One activity that helps students cover a variety of media related themes is to have students create and act out a newscast. The larger the class, the more roles students can take on. Perhaps your class might even put up the final version online.

Aim: Develop a working knowledge of vocabulary related to media

Activity: Creating a newscast

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Lesson Outline:

  • Study media-related vocabulary covering the basics of printed and broadcast video. This media-related vocabulary list is a good place to start.
  • Discuss different roles on news broadcasts including anchorpersons, weather and sports reporters. 
  • Compare and contrast printed and broadcast media and how they are currently used in our daily lives.
  • Watch a video on YouTube or on TV of a typical newscast together as a class. It's not necessary to watch an entire broadcast. However, students should have a chance to become familiar with a range of reports.
  • Watch the newscast a second time and ask students to take note of typical phrases used to introduce various reports and reporters, as well as make transitions.
  • Review transition phrases in small groups with students matching language functions to appropriate phrases.
  • Ask students to write out two alternate phrases for each language function. 
  • As a class, review possible phrases. Write phrases on the white board, or take note in a document to print out for students.
  • Ask groups to read a transcript of a typical broadcast. I've included an easy version below, but advanced classes should be able to handle actual broadcast transcripts.
  • Next, students script out a short newscast in groups of four to six. One student should take on the role of anchorperson, one as the weatherperson, another as a sports reporter. For larger groups, add various reporters as required. For example, one group might have a gossip reporter from Hollywood, another group might have a reporter on assignment in China, etc. 
  • Ask students to work together to write a short newscast with each student responsible for his or her own role / report.
  • Review students' scripts as needed and help out with transitional language.
  • Have students practice the newscast until they can deliver the news comfortably with little reference to the script. 
  • Enjoy the newscasts as a class. If it's really good, share the newscast online. 
  • Repeat the fun with this lesson on writing dramatic scripts as a class, or this lesson asking students to create a soap opera scene.

Newscaster Language

Match the following purpose to the phrases that follow.

Once you've matched the phrases, come up with two additional phrases that might be used to accomplish the same function:

  • Opening the newscast
  • Announcing the headlines
  • Introducing the weather
  • Cutting to a commercial
  • Transitioning to a new story
  • Introducing live coverage
  • Introducing the sports segment
  • Interrupting the newscast for breaking news
  • Using pleasant small talk to finish the news
  • Signing off from the broadcast

Phrases

  1. Excuse me, we have a developing situation ...
  2. Good evening and here is tonight's important news.
  3. Hi Steve, we're on the ground here in downtown ...
  4. How about that game last night!
  5. It's pretty wet out there, isn't it?
  6. Let's get out there and enjoy some of the good weather.
  7. Let's turn to a story about ...
  8. Stay tuned, we'll be right back.
  9. Thank you for tuning in. We'll be back at eleven with important updates.
  1. Tonight's stories include ...

Example News Transcript

Read this transcript and take note how transitional phrases are used during a news broadcast. Once you have finished, plan your own newscast with classmates.

Anchorperson: Good evening and welcome to the local news. Tonight's stories include the story of a boy and his dog, a look at improving employment figures, and a clip of the Timbers' win at home last night. But first, let's check in on the weather. Tom, how's the weather looking?
Weather reporter: Thank you Linda. It's been a beautiful day today, hasn't it? We had a high of 93 and a low of 74. The day started off with a few clouds, but we've had sunny skies since two o'clock. We can expect more of the same tomorrow. Over to you Linda.


Anchorperson: Thank you Tom, yes it's a wonderful time of the year. We're so lucky with our weather.
Weather reporter: That's right!


Anchorperson: Let's turn to a sweet story of a boy and his dog. Last night a dog was left in the parking lot sixty miles away from its home. The dog's owner, a boy of eight, tried everything to find Cindy. Yesterday, Cindy came home and scratched on the front door. John Smithers has more. John?
Reporter: Thank you Linda. Yes, little Tom Anders is a happy boy tonight. Cindy, as you can see, is now playing in the backyard. She arrived home after having come more than sixty miles to reunite with Tom! As you can see, they're overjoyed to be reunited.


Anchorperson: Thank you John. That's good news indeed! Now, let's check in with Anna for a look at last night's Timber's victory.


Sports reporter: Timber's hit it big last night. Beating the Sounders 3 - 1. Alessandro Vespucci scored the first two goals, followed by Kevin Brown's incredible header in the last minute. 


Anchorperson: Wow, that sounds exciting! Well, thank you everyone. This has been the evening news. 

Newscaster Language Answers

  1. Interrupting the newscast for breaking news
  2. Opening the newscast
  3. Introducing live coverage
  4. Introducing the sports segment
  5. Introducing the weather
  6. Using pleasant small talk to finish the news
  7. Transitioning to a new story
  8. Cutting to a commercial
  9. Signing off from the broadcast
  10. Announcing the headlines