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Over the last three decades, major changes have taken place in the English language teaching methods, especially in second and foreign language learning scenario. This paper aims at analyzing the importance of usage of newspaper and magazines in the classroom and finding the ways on how to use print media. The classroom becomes a multidimensional environment. It is difficult for the teachers to manage this multidimensional environment. It is essential for them to make the students able to use the news paper and at the same time deal with other activities such as researching for information from books and magazines. The following issues are open for discussion: the importance of media in general and education in particular; media are persuasive and pervasive, example newspapers and magazines. The possibilities of ‘interactive or ‘student-centered’ approaches to teach writing skills in English through newspaper and I review basic procedures common in English Language Teaching to design tasks for literary study will be discussed. Such tasks I suggest, newspapers can definitely supplement the traditional lectures.
Keywords: Teaching English, use of print media, newspapers, language acquisition.
1. Newspapers in the classroom
Newspapers are easy to be brought in the class in different subjects and courses, especially in geography, history, literature, language classes, etc. Some of them have valuable information for these subjects, but we should know how to find this information. Many libraries have systems of classification according to the topics and issues and we can easily find our way in searching this information. If not we would spend a lot of time to find something. It is often said that academic success starts at the library. There are different purposes and ways for using newspapers in language classroom. They may be used for the culture they transmit. The more widely students read, the greater their understanding of this cultural meaning will be. They may also be used for reflecting changes in the language as well, and in doing so, helping students and teachers keep up pace with such changes. Most newspapers are linguistically up-to-date and provide valuable linguistic data. They may be used for the wide variety of text types and language styles, not often found in textbooks. At the same time, newspapers provide a natural source of many of the varieties of Written English that become very important to students, and valuable for language study as the students’ progress. So, they may be used as supplementary material and examples in Text Analysis, Academic Writing, Stylistics, Semantics, etc. while analyzing different types of texts. The variety of subjects and topics makes newspapers interesting and motivating for the students to work with. Newspapers report real-life events, and this arouses students’ curiosity. Newspaper-based activities in the classroom may engage students in enjoyable activities and encourage their further reading. Newspapers are an invaluable source of authentic materials. The more students read, the more they want to explore.
“People learn through reading, and reading about interesting new things in one’s interest subject, undoubtedly helps motivation”. (Paul Sanderson, 2002)
Newspapers are also a great source for ESP teachers. They can be used as teaching materials to develop students’ language skills. They can be used effectively with a wide range of levels from Elementary to Advanced, either interpreting them or using them as they are. Some newspapers are easy to read, easy to use. The committed teachers can design exercises to develop reading comprehension, critical thinking skills, writing skills, grammar skills, vocabulary, map/chart reading skills, geography skills, social study skills and more. Having a lot of newspapers and information the teachers should be careful with the way how to organize a certain activity using them. So, they are particularly suitable for mixed-ability classes, depending on the activity, questions, etc. In planning a lesson using a newspaper, the teacher should take into consideration the length of the article, paragraph, the complexity of the language, the density of information, the subject-matter and content, the time available and the level of the students. Nowadays, we are living in a period of rapid technological changes in mass communications. Through Internet, we are now able to access thousands of newspapers and magazines worldwide. Internet has increasingly become a major source of newspapers and magazines for language teachers; just find the web site and click. But we should be very careful in choosing suitable newspaper materials to use with our students.
It is helpful to bear in mind these questions:
â€¢ Will my students find the materials interesting? If yes, they will raise students’ motivation. If no, the students will be frustrated.
â€¢ Are the materials appropriate for their level of knowledge? If they are too difficult to be understood, students will be discouraged. Otherwise their level of understanding would be O.K.
â€¢ Are the materials appropriate for the students in terms of language level? Choose more challenging materials, choose materials where the language level is suited to the level of students, and choose tasks that can be done by the students at a certain level.
â€¢ Should I use only materials from today’s newspapers? The answer is yes and no.
â€¢ Lessons take time to prepare. The schedules of the teachers are periodically busy. Once we find an interesting material, we may use it over and over again, avoiding articles or news mentioning dates or topical events, data for well-known personalities, etc. Another very important issue about newspaper use is materials collection. It is an on-going process and worth doing it. Choosing and collecting short articles, weather forecast, advertisements, headlines, etc. is a hard task, but we may use them at a later time and more than once for different students. So, it is necessary to be very careful in organizing newspaper materials. Once we start collecting them we should begin thinking to organize them, put under certain categories, systematize them, etc. Everyone has experienced many times the frustration when he/she knows that he/she has that piece of information but does not remember where he/she has put it. It is good to categorize the materials under certain titles, headlines, advertisements, etc. or under topic titles, sport, cinema, relationship, according to language level of students, etc. Of great importance are the use of the photographs and illustrations. We should be careful to prepare these materials in good quality to use them again and again, and with every passing year we create folios and enrich them, then photocopy what we want for students’ use. We should not avoid using newspapers in the classroom only thinking that they are difficult for our students. It is true that the language there is difficult, but after all it is authentic. There are several ways of making newspaper materials usable for the various levels of students, by selecting interesting newspapers and the students will be interested in reading them and would skip some difficult expressions. A very important thing that enhances success in using newspapers in the classroom is the careful design of tasks. “Grade the task – not the material’ is a well-known maxim in language teaching’. In spite of the difficulty of the texts, the task should suit the level of students, this is more important than the difficulty of the text. The involvement of students in pre-activity, while-activity preparation techniques, in the selection of materials and in carefully designing the tasks are the key to success.
Here are some pre-activity and while-activity preparation techniques that can be used in combination with one another: (Paul Sanderson, 2002)
â€¢ Give the students the materials before the lesson, ask them to look for vocabulary at home
â€¢ Explain any key vocabulary in the materials
â€¢ Summarize the newspaper item
â€¢ Ask the students to brainstorm what they know about the newspaper item
â€¢ Tell the students the headline and show any accompanying photograph
â€¢ Before reading, write on the board and explain key vocabulary
â€¢ Ask the students to predict the story-line
â€¢ Allow your students to use a dictionary during the activity
â€¢ Encourage your students to go for the overall meaning of a text, rather than to understand every word
â€¢ Encourage your students to bring to their reading their own world knowledge
â€¢ Try to help the students in understanding the grammatical complexity of the text, facilitate to assimilate the density of information, guess the low-frequency vocabulary, etc.
The newspaper activities might be a lot, interesting and multidimensional. They might be about the headlines, headline combinations, articles, categorizing articles, news flash, putting it back together, exchanging the news, ranking articles, press conference, filling in the gaps, news in brief, photographs, predicting photographs, famous faces, photo stories, moving pictures, putting the picture in the story, advertisements, classifying adds, role-plays ads, job interviews, horoscopes, problem page letters, TV guides, cartoons and strip cartoons, acting out cartoons, strip cartoon stories, weather forecast, predicting the weather, matching weather forecasts, newspaper reading corner, find someone whoâ€¦ special interest groups, newspaper puzzles, crosswords, and many others.
2. Magazines in the Classroom
There are different kinds of magazines. According to a questionnaire done with high school and university students most of them mentioned that they liked to read mostly political, scientific, fashion, cultural, entertaining and sport magazines. This interest of the university and high school students should be exploited by the teachers to up-date their teaching materials and break the monotony of the lesson by using always the textbooks.
As with newspapers, magazines are resources for different subjects, cutting out pictures and passages associated with particular topics. Magazines are also sources in language development in providing pictures to stimulate verbal or written stories. For example, they may be used for introducing colors and clothes, means of transport, short stories, stimulating picture discussions and for other supplementary materials as well, which cover a topic that may be under discussion in a language class. As for the ways how to use magazines in the classroom we can refer to the ideas and clues given for the newspapers. Both newspapers and magazines have a lot of things in common.
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