Monthly Archives: March 2019

Developing Fluency Working with News and Fake News

Who needs a fabulous activity to add to their repertoire of activities to teach about the news and the media? Both hands raised? Awesome!

This activity has been inspired by a video I saw on Youtube where Louise Desmier, from British Council Spain, talks about CLIL and offers different activities that can be adapted to different subjects. Check it out 

The idea behind this activity is that by repeating the same information several times, students gain fluency, start making fewer mistakes and gain confidence. 

  • Topic: Newspapers and the media
  • Aim: to develop students’ fluency and incorporate new language by retelling a piece of news several times.
  • Level: Upper Intermediate and above
  • Time:  20 minutes
  • Materials: Short stories (level 2) from News in Levels.
Before the class

Before the class, choose a number of stories from News in Levels that look intriguing or you think might generate interest. Write the headlines of the stories on a folded piece of paper, big enough to see from a distance (see picture). If you have 12 students in class, there should be at least 6  different pieces of news.

Copy/paste each piece of news and print them on different pages. Each headline should be accompanied by their matching piece of news.

Note: You should also include one piece of fake news which, at the end of the exercise, students will need to guess.

Some of my headlines were:

  • Scientist make meat
  • Church sex scandals
Procedure

Bear with me. It takes longer to explain than to actually do the exercise

  • Divide the class into newsreaders and viewers. Ask the newsreaders to sit together in a different area of the classroom.
  • Ask the newsreaders to place their headlines on the desk visible to the rest of the class (viewers)
  • Give the newsreaders the news accompanying the headline and allow them some time to read it. Tell them they will need to retell the story behind the headline.
  • While the newsreaders are reading their piece of news, you can ask the rest of the class to do a small exercise from their textbooks. You don’t want them to be staring at you or wasting their time.
  • Once the five minutes are over, ask the viewers to stand up and choose the headline that intrigues them the most. They should sit facing the newsreader.
  • The newsreader needs to retell the news using his own words but, at the same time, trying to incorporate as much vocabulary from the story as possible.
  • Allow 2 or 3 minutes for this part.
  • Repeat the exercise asking viewers to choose a different intriguing headline.

  • Change roles. Ask students to change roles and repeat procedure. As, ideally, there will be more than 4 pieces of news they can always choose a different headline.

Once the exercise is finished, ask students in pairs to discuss and decide which news was fake news. Answer: the one about the spiders

Find some more fake news here

Hope you have enjoyed the activity! 🙂

Activating Vocabulary in a Reading Comprehension Activity.

Now, this is my kind of activity. Fun, engaging, communicative and effective! And… almost no-prep!

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you surely know about my obsession for “activating “ the vocabulary I teach in class. For this reason, you will always find me devising and designing strategies to bring to life the vocabulary taught during the lesson.

             

This activity I am going to share with you today turns a seemingly boring reading comprehension exercise into an engaging collaborative activity with lots of vocabulary learning involved.

It works really well when you have a text that can easily be divided into sections. Let’s take, for example, a text where 4 people give their opinion about Languages.

Procedure:

Before the class ( I said "almost" non-prep) 

Choose 5 words or expressions in each section you want your students to learn or reinforce. Write them down on a piece of paper (see picture below). You can obviously choose more or fewer words, but 5 works fine for me. Don’t show it to your students. Yet.

In class

Working with vocabulary

  • Form as many groups as different sections in the text you have and assign each group a section to read. For example, group 1 gets text 1, group 2 gets text 2… etc.

Note: In one class, I only had 8 students, so there were only two students in each group. Not a   problem. It worked just fine.

  • Once groups are formed, ask students to individually read their assigned text and underline any words or expressions they think might be worth using/ studying/using.
  • In the group, ask them to compare the words/expressions they have underlined and come up with only 5.
  • Ask them to write them on a piece of paper. Tell them you have also chosen 5 words from their texts. They will score 1 point for every coincidence.
  • Divide the board into four columns ( as many as sections/groups you have) and assign a column to each group.
  • Ask a representative from each group to write the 5 items they have chosen on their assigned column on the board, and explain meanings to the rest of the class.
  • Once this is done, read the words you have chosen and assign a point for every coincidence. On the board, add your chosen words to those written by the group. Clarify meanings and repeat procedure with the rest of the groups.

Retelling

Form new groups. Ask every student in Group 1 to form a different group with students from Group 2, 3 and 4. Allow them to reread their texts once or twice and ask them to retell their part making sure they use the vocabulary on the board.

Finally, do the reading comprehension questions as a whole class. Everybody should be able now to answer the questions for the whole text.