I have spent the past few years working in learning object and course development. In August, I am returning to the classroom to teach EFL. Putting on my teacher hat, I remember that it is important to have an emergency kit of prepared learning events in a variety of media. Worksheets, bookmarked web activities, flash cards, board games, videos, audio clips and technology such as a digital camera will contribute to future icebreakers, Friday afternoon fillers, motivation boosting sessions or the odd substitution call. I have found a reliable resource that I will be adapting and have started stocking this kit with a few activities from Breaking News English.
I think that the majority of ESL instructors would agree that using current events with students increases motivation and interest. Current events can add relevance to language instruction by creating a connection between the classroom and the real world. Students can draw from their past experiences, identify patterns or predict what will happen based on news pieces. Class conversations can be empowered through opinions, speculation, emotion, intellect and interest when a real news event is the focus of a classroom learning event. Students can be engaged in exploring real-world issues and possibly solving authentic problems with information gleaned from current events articles.
Sean Banville, the creator of Breaking News English, has spent more than a decade creating over 4000 ESL activities. The majority of these are based on current events. He has generously refined and shared these resources with us through his website Breaking News English. If you have flexibility in your syllabus to choose some of the materials and classes, I recommend that you have a look at this site to add interest to your courses.
As of June 2015, there are two thousand and seventy-one free lessons at this site. These are easily retrievable through a search feature, as well as a table listing lessons by dates. This is remarkable as he has taken the time from his busy teaching schedule to create, document, tag and file this collection of instructional resources.
Lessons can also be accessed by one of seven levels. As teachers well understand, this can save a great deal of preparation time and difficulty during the classes themselves. A typical higher-level lesson embodies the characteristics listed below:
• Integration of skills
• Potentially 7 instructional levels
• Ease of use for instructors and students
• Print friendly format
o Warm up
o Pre-Reading/ Pre-listening
o Cloze activity
o Listening with worksheet
o Listening with cloze
o Comprehension questions
o Multiple Choice
o Role Play
o Post-reading / Post-listening
o Sequencing sentences
o Sequencing paragraphs
o Word pairs
o Insert missing letters
o Insert a space
o Free writing
o Academic writing
Each lesson includes too many activity options, but a pattern is followed from lesson to lesson, so working with this resource is consistent and stress-free. Believe it or not, there is more! Lesson themes also include audio that can be played back at different speeds, interactive grammar, reading, spelling and vocabulary activities.
If this is all too much for you, there is the two-page mini lesson option. I will be including a few of these in my emergency teaching kit, as well as links to relevant interactive activities and audio clips.
In addition to the Breaking News English resource, Sean also publishes eight additional sites that focus on movies, discussion, people, holidays, business, listening and American Presidents. I recommend that instructors of English take the time to examine these amazing resources.
If you have any experience with this site, please share in the comment box below.
Resources mentioned in this post
Breaking News English, http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/
Sean’s Websites, http://www.freeeslmaterials.com/sean_banville_lessons.html