Languages › English as a Second Language How to Understand Newspaper Headlines This Lesson Helps ESL Students Understand Newspaper Headings Share Flipboard Email Print Purestock/Getty Images English as a Second Language Resources for Teachers Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated April 23, 2019 Take a look at any newspaper or magazine headline and you are likely to find incomplete sentences full of action-packed verbs. Headlines live in a linguistic bubble all by themselves because they ignore grammar conventions such as the use of helping verbs and so on. Of course, this means that newspaper headlines can be confusing to English language students. This is because newspaper headlines are often incomplete. For example: Difficult Times AheadUnder Pressure from BossMustang Referral Customer Complaint This lesson focuses on helping make sense of the strange forms used in newspaper headlines. You may want to review some of the most common grammar exceptions found in newspaper headlines before you take this lesson into class. Lesson Breakdown and Outline Aim: Understanding newspaper headlinesActivity: "Translating" newspaper headlines into more understandable EnglishLevel: Intermediate to higher levels Outline: Find some headlines in old newspapers or on the internet and cut them out. There should be at least two headlines per student.Pass out one of the headlines to each student. Give them a few minutes to think about the meaning of each headline.Ask students to read their headlines aloud and give an explanation of what they think the article in question concerns.As a class, brainstorm on possible structural meanings behind the "strange" grammar found in headlines (refer to grammar exceptions found in newspaper headlines).Ask students to fit the following headlines into the correct categories on the worksheet. You may want to have students pair up to do this.Correct the exercise as a class.Pass out the headlines you have left to the students. Ask each student to "translate" each headline into "proper" English and give an explanation of what they think the article in question concerns.As a homework option, you may want to ask students to find some headlines on their own and repeat this exercise. A further challenge might be to ask students to find headlines, read the articles, and then ask other students to interpret their headlines in small groups. Newspaper Headlines Exercises for Students of English 1. Match these newspaper headlines with the following categories (some headlines fit two categories): Newspaper Headlines Difficult Times AheadForgotten Brother AppearsJames Wood to Visit PortlandLandscaping Company Disturbance RegulationsMan Killed in AccidentMayor to Open Shopping MallMustang Referral Customer ComplaintOverwhelming Response of VotersPasserby Sees Woman JumpPresident Declares CelebrationProfessors Protest Pay CutsTommy the Dog Named HeroUnder Pressure from BossUnexpected VisitWidow Pension Pay Committee Categories Noun PhrasesNoun StringsSimple Tenses instead of Continuous or PerfectAuxiliary Verbs Dropped in Passive FormArticles DroppedInfinitive to Indicate Future 2. Try to "translate" the meaning of each of the headlines.