How to Teach English Using Newspapers

A wide variety of exercises using newspapers and magazines in class

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Newspapers or magazines are a must-have in every classroom - even if the class you are teaching are beginners. There are a number of ways to use newspapers for everything from simple reading exercises to using excerpts for reading in class. Here are suggestions on how to use newspapers in class arranged by linguistic objective. In some cases, links are provided to full lesson plans on the ideas suggested below.

Reading

  • Straight forward reading: Have students read an article and discuss.
  • Ask students to find articles from different nations on a global topic. Students should compare and contrast how different nations portray the news story.

Vocabulary

  • Focus on word forms using colored pens. Ask students to circle different forms of a word such as worth, worthy, worthless, etc. in an article. 
  • Ask students to find various parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs.
  • Make a mind-map of an article relating ideas through vocabulary.
  • Focus on words related to certain ideas. For example, ask students to circle verbs that are related to finance. Have students explore the differences between these words in groups.

Grammar

  • Discuss the use of present perfect for recent events that have an effect on the current moment by focusing on truncated newspaper headlines that use the past participle such as XYZ Merger Done Deal, Law Approved In Senate
  • Use colored pens to focus on grammar points. For example, if you are studying verbs that take the gerund or the infinitive, have students highlight these combinations using one color for gerunds and another color for infinitives. Another option is to have students highlight different tenses in different colors.
  • Photocopy an article from a newspaper. White out key grammar items that you are focusing on and have students fill in the blank. For example, white out all the helping verbs and ask students to fill them in.

Speaking

  • Break students up into groups and read a short article. Students should then write questions based on this article, and then exchange articles with another group providing questions. Once groups have answered the questions, get students into pairs, one from each group, and have them discuss their answers.
  • Focus on ads. How are the ads pitching their products? What messages are they trying to send?

Listening / Pronunciation

  • Ask students to prepare two paragraphs from a newspaper article. First, students should all the content words in the passage. Next, have students practice reading the sentences focusing on using correct intonation of the sentence by focusing on content words. Finally, students read to each other asking simple questions for comprehension.
  • Focus on an IPA symbol or two through the use of minimal pairs. Ask students to underline example of each phoneme practiced. For example, have students compare and contrast the phonemes for the short /I/ sound and the longer 'ee' of /i/ by looking for representative words with each phoneme.
  • Use a news story that has a transcript (NPR.org often does this) for listening for gist. First, have students listen to a news story. Next, ask questions about the gist of the story. Finally, ask students to listen while reading the transcript. Follow up with a discussion.

Writing

  • Have students write short summaries of news stories they have read.
  • Ask students to write a newspaper article of their own for a school or class newspaper. Some students can do interviews, others take photos. Alternately, use the same idea to create a class blog.
  • Lower level students can use photos, charts, pictures, etc. to begin writing descriptive sentences. These can be simple sentences describing what someone is wearing to practice related vocabulary. More advanced students can write about the 'back story' of photos such as why the person was in a certain situation shown in a photograph.