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Book Review
Using Newspapers in the Classroom cover

Using Newspapers in the Classroom

by Paul Sanderson

Review written by Thomas Simon

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of classroom material, although teaching abroad it has been an expensive source of material, as well as being slightly out of date by the time you can actually get your hands on the newspaper.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:

1. Headlines
2. Articles
3. Photographs
4. Advertisements
5. Horoscopes
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 that;

'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?

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