Review written by Thomas
Newspapers have always been an important
source of classroom material, although teaching abroad
it has been an expensive source of material, as well
as being slightly out of date by the time you can actually
get your hands on the newspaper. This has recently changed
with international newspapers being published locally
& being available on the same day, & since the
internet began, availability has become so much easier.
This ease of availability clearly applies to both the
teacher & the learner & our learners are now
more than ever reading newspaper articles in English,
principally on the internet. So, although 'Using
Newspapers in the Classroom' was first published
in 1999, & is currently on its fifth publishing
in 2003, it is a timely reminder as to how useful &
important as a learning tool newspapers actually are
both in & outside of the classroom.
Each section of a newspaper can be used
for a wide variety of tasks & this is reflected
in the contents page:
6. Problem page letters
7. TV Guides
8. Cartoons& strip cartoons
9. Weather forecasts
10. The whole newspaper
There is a sensible introduction
to the book & to using newspapers at the beginning
& then we are straight into the activities. Each
activity within each section follows the procedure;
titles, one line description, level, preparation description,
in class - the task, variation & finally cross-references
with other activities in the book. The appendices contain
useful & relevant information.
The blurb on the book says
|'The activities, which
show teachers how to exploit the different features
& sections of newspapers, are designed to provide
motivating & challenging learning experiences,
as well as valuable language practice.'
I was pleasantly surprised
on agreeing with these claims. Activities are wide-ranging,
from using the weather forecasts to practise comparative,
to lots of predictions tasks from headlines, photos
& article excerpts, to deciding on plans using TV
guides, What's On guides & holiday adverts. These
might well be tried & tested activities for you
but then you delve more into the book to find new &
different imaginative uses for the different sections.
The instruction 'Choose an
article which you think will be of general interest
to your students' is repeated again & again, quite
rightly. There is nothing worse than ploughing your
way through an article in which you have no interest
& as there are no end of different newspapers to
choose from, you will always to be able to find interesting,
engaging articles for your particular students. There
is no excuse for boring choices.
Newspapers offer us the opportunity
to provide interesting content to our learners. 'Using
Newspapers in the Classroom' then provides us with
a solid range of activities to exploit these newspapers.
Imagine throwing out the coursebook & using exclusively
newspaper content in a process-based syllabus. A lot
of work but how much more relevant can you get to catering
to your adult learners' needs & interests?