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An excellent activity for vocabulary building and "Real English" practice

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We are fortunate in that the Nashville Tennessean has a program called Newspapers in Education. Through the generosity of the newspaper and individuals and organizations that contribute to this program, we are able to access the Tennessean website and download articles.  If your local newspaper doesn't have such a program, you might see if they would be willing to start one.

I use the newspapers in several ways:

1. I ask each student to read an article in English from the newspaper, a magazine, the internet, etc.   His homework that night is to read the article carefully. The following class, each student gives a five minute report on his article to his group, and the group discusses the article. I am fortunate to have volunteers to help me with this exercise.  I have a native English speaker at each table, with five or six students. These volunteers answer questions about unfamiliar words or phrases, and occasionally explain a little about the background of the article. If someone is not partipating actively, they will usually ask his opinion. I allow about an hour for small group discussions. If several students have chosen the same article, indicating more than the usual interest, I will ask one of them to present to the entire class and get general discussion going on this topic. I find that this is a real learning experience for me as well as for the students, because I hear many diverse points of view on topics of interest.

2. I will occasionally copy an article or column and have the students read it aloud in class, and then discuss it. I find especially useful columns written by Saritha Prabhu, a young writer who is a native of India, who frequently writes on topics that are of great interest to my adult immigrant students. Click on the link below to sample one of her columns.

Saritha Prabhu Arranged marriages


3. I will sometimes choose a cartoon or comic strip, and ask the class to explain and interpret it. Cartoons with no or few words are excellent for this purpose. I have found that trying to explain a comic strip is an excellent exercise.

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A graphic representation of two meanings of lie

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