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Newspapers and magazines as an authentic and semi-authentic teaching

material in ELT classroom.

Newspapers and magazines are useful tools in the EFL classroom for improving
reading skills and enhancing students' knowledge of current affairs. They can help
students to develop not only reading skills but also writing, grammar, vocabulary,
and speaking skills.
Newspapers are real authentic material but on the other hand we cannot say that
magazines printed for a particular students level are not authentic.

Harmer (1991) says: we need texts which students can understand the general
meaning of, whether they are truly authentic or not.
Harmer adds that the texts should be in language which the students can
more or less understand even though it is above their own productive level.

Authentic newspapers and semi-authentic magazines have some assets and


drawbacks.
Availability
Variety
Topicality
Difficulty
Culture and society problems
Availability

The availability for EFL teachers to get English authentic or semi-authentic materials
is easy nowadays. There are many publishers that offer semi-authentic magazines
for different learner levels therefore it is much easier for teachers to prepare a proper
lesson plan.

Variety

Newspapers and magazines are full of texts that can help learners to improve his or
her speaking, reading, writing and listening skills, vocabularies and grammar. The
teacher can find an appropriate text for his or her lower students level in semi-
authentic magazines or find a text in authentic newspapers that suit his or her higher
students level.

Topicality
Grundy (1993) adds, it is important to develop a wide amount of activities that can
be used even if the material is not timely. It is essential for the teacher to think
creatively to be able to use a specific activity for a specific text
Difficulty
EFL learners find authentic newspaper texts difficult. They are full of obscure
headlines and an immense variety of vocabulary and grammar structures.
Hammer (1991). The work with this authentic material should be focused on
meaning rather than form. Harmer also says that students could generally deal with
a higher level of language in receptive skills than in productive skills.
Culture and society problems
It is a big asset to use authentic or semi-authentic newspapers and magazines in an
EFL classroom because students are introduced to cultural and social information
about English speaking countries. It is very important for teachers to reduce the
negative reaction and very carefully choose the appropriate text or to allow students
to choose the text for their work whenever possible.
How to use newspapers and magazines in EFL class effectively

Grundy(1993) In students it can develop various language skills, including reading


comprehension, grammar and vocabulary work, they get in touch with different
cultures and societies, and it stimulates discussion on the basis of the reading
articles

The effective use of newspapers and magazines in EFL classrooms should include
the following:
Warm-up or discussion activity to introduce the topic
Work on selection of the techniques covered by the text, which will generate
vocabulary development, guided or free writing activities, oral practice, exercises
performed in pairs or small groups
A follow-up activity, such as discussion, a role-play or project work.
Motivation

Aspects that motivate students in learning EFL through reading newspapers and
magazines:
Interest
Personalization
Cultural information
Cross-curriculum
Vocabulary
Reading
Reading strategies and techniques
As teachers, we can help with the students ability to read and be able to understand
the text by teaching the students some reading strategies and techniques.
Activating prior knowledge
Clarifying
Context Clues
Drawing Conclusions
Evaluating
Inference
Predicting
Rereading
Restating
Setting a purpose
Scanning
Skimming
Visualizing
Inference
Francoise (1981) Inference means to discover the meaning of unknown elements
by using syntactic, logical and cultural holds. Students should be encouraged to
make a guess at the meaning of the words they do not know rather than look them
up in a dictionary.
Scanning
It is a strategy that helps students to read quickly and find what they are looking for.
Skimming
Skimming is a skill applied to reading when we need to have an idea of the main
points of the text, or, in other words, to get the general picture of the text.
Types of students
For effective classroom work with newspapers and magazines it is very important to
provide a variety of classroom reading activities and focus on reading skills such as
inference, skimming and scanning.
Among other effective activities are speaking, listening and writing activities, working
with newspaper and magazine pictures, and others. All these activities are suitable
either for interpersonal or intrapersonal types of students
Interpersonal students
The interpersonal students learn from interaction, interpretation and cooperation with
other students. They like competition and they are able to present their work results
in front of the class.
Intrapersonal students
Students like concentrating on the work and having enough time to achieve their
results. They feel better presenting the results of their work in written form rather
than speaking about it.

Examples of activities

Find hidden word


Level: pre-intermediate
Activity: to make inferences according to the text of a headline
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: for each two students (four copies) a copy of newspaper or magazine
headlines
Interaction: individual student, then a whole class
Skills: reading, inference, discussing.
Preparation (teacher):
Cut out ten newspaper and magazine headlines from different editions and from
each one removes an interesting word (e.g. The Lady in White Still ________).
Stuck the incomplete headlines on a piece of paper and make four copies.
Procedure (teacher, students):
Ask students to divide into four groups of two students and distributed a copy of
headlines to each team. Ask each team to come up with two possible words that
would suit each headline: the first word should be the most likely word and the
second the funniest word. The time for finding the suitable words will be ten
minutes.
Collect all the responses and assign a point to the student with the right word.
Each student will be involved by holding a vote for the funniest / most original
answer for each headline and assign the point. The student who get the highest
amount of points will be the winner.

Articles
Level: pre-intermediate
Activity: read and summarize an article
Time: 30 minutes
Materials: for each two students (four copies) a copy of newspaper or magazine
article.
Interaction: teams of two students, then a whole class
Skills: reading, skimming, summarizing.
Preparation (teacher):
Prepare a set of four copies of different articles from a newspaper or magazine.
Procedure (teacher, students):
Ask students to work in pairs to read and summarize an article that interests them.
Each pair of students can then work with another pair to talk about their article.
Each pair then reports back to the class about the article they read. List words or
phrases that students did not know on the board and explain as needed.

Speaking activities.
Whats this?
Level: elementary
Activity: Describe what is in the picture.
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: photos cut out of various newspapers (not necessarily English
newspapers)
Interaction: teams of two students, then as a whole class.
Skills: speaking, discussing, inferring, reading, writing.
Preparation (teacher):
Cut out some photos from the newspaper of recent news items which are familiar/
relevant/ of interest to your learners.
Procedure (teacher, students):
Put the learners in pairs. Demonstrate the activity by holding up a picture and
doing the following:
Describe what is in the picture (there is there are a man is talking two
women are walking.) Speculate about what the news story could be (it could
be it must be he might be)
Ask learners to do the same with their picture in pairs. As a follow- up they could
write the caption for the photo on a separate piece of paper. Collect the captions
and photos. Redistribute them to the learners, who now have to find the photo to
match the caption.

What's in the news today?


Level: pre-intermediate
Activity: Report the news.
Time: 20 minutes
Materials: English language newspapers
Interaction: teams of three students, then a whole class
Skills: skimming,
Preparation (teacher):
Ask students to bring a newspaper with the news of the week.
Procedure (teacher, students):
Distribute the newspapers, one for each group of two or three learners. Tell them
they have a time limit with which to skim through the newspaper. When the time
limit is up, ask two groups to get together and report to each other everything they
remember that is in the news. They must do this in English, and cannot refer to the
newspapers (this is important, because otherwise you may get one or two learners
who bury their heads in the paper and dont participate!). Do feedback as a whole
group. This is a combined reading and speaking activity, although the time limit
forces learners to use the reading skill of skimming.

Comments
Newspapers and magazines can be easily used for doing activities in the
classroom. They are authentic and semi authentic materials that bring students
real life situations and engage them in interesting and enjoyable activities.
Newspapers are an excellent tool to develop students skill through a great variety
of activities. Teachers can motivate students to read further organizing activities
and interesting readings according to the needs of the students.

References

Zakhareuski, A. Busy teacher. (2007) What you do with newspapers. Taken from:
http://busyteacher.org/7198-11-esl-newspapers-activities-classroom.html.
Retrieved on October 6, 2017.

Clandfield, L. and Foord, D. One stop English. (2000). Teaching materials: using
newspapers in the classroom. Taken from:
http://www.onestopenglish.com/methodology/methodology/teaching-
materials/teaching-materials-using-newspapers-in-the-classroom-1/146510.article.
Retrieved on October 6, 2017.
Lancouchov, B. Masarik University. (2006). Using magazines and newspapers in
ELT with interpersonal and intrapersonal types of students. Taken from:
https://is.muni.cz/th/123821/pedf_b/Bachelor_work.pdf. Retrieved on October 6,
2017.
Dheram, P. and Rani, N. (20017). Using English Newspapers in the ESL/EFL
Classroom. Taken from: http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Dheram-Newspapers.html.
Retrieved on October 6, 2017.