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Keep Your Students Current!

Reading and listening to news online or in print can provide your students with an opportunity to build up vocabulary and improve fluency related to specific news topics. Exposure to authentic material such as news articles not only keeps your students up to date with world issues, but also provides students with a platform for interesting and lively discussions.

When using news articles in the classroom or one on one with a student, try not to get in the position of having to explain the mechanics of the written piece (grammar and sentence structure), but rather on understanding the related vocabulary and the gist of the story. 
Simple Activities Using News Articles:
  • Guess What the Story is About - Write the news heading on the board before looking at the story and then have students try to guess what the story could be about. I sometimes write about five words from the article to help them with the guesswork.
  • Find the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) - As a class or with a reading partner, have students read first and then find the 5 W's.
  • Listen First - Listen to the news story first and find the 5 W's before looking at the story. If the news article does not come with a listening piece, I will read the story out loud and have the class follow along. Depending on the length of the story, I will re-read again but with more speed.
  • Vocabulary Exercises - Highlight important vocabulary from the news article and write the words on the board. Have students find the words first in their printed copy of the story and then they can either guess the meaning of each word, match the words with the correct definitions that are written on the board or find a synonym for each vocabulary word from the article that makes sense with the sentence.
  • Talk About It - Create conversation and opinion questions about the news article and any linking topics for the class to work on with a partner or in a small group. Discuss the questions as a class afterwards. 
  • Question Making - Have students create their own questions using the news article. This is often a tricky activity for most students, but it can provide an opportunity to practice question structure. I use an LCD projector which allows me to type the questions using my computer. I type the question given by the student word for word and have the rest of the class determine if it is correct or not. Sometimes I will just print the questions without corrections, and then give the students a copy of the questions for them to correct themselves. For those students who want the homework, I will have them answer all the questions in complete sentences using the article.
  • Facts and Opinions - Have students find important facts and opinions from the news article. Discuss as a class.
  • Adjectives - Have students find new and interesting adjectives that help create the mood and the angle of the news stories.


Feel free to comment or to send us any link or resource you would like to share so that we can continue to be part of this exciting and ever growing field of English language teaching!


  1. I think it is important to also preteach "Headline" English - and the use of many idioms and punning in newspaper articles. Vocabulary in Use (Upper Intermediate) has a good unit on Headline English.

    I also introduce my students to CFRB1010 - talk show - just for the five minute news the beginning they freak as it is so fast - but after a while (especially for those who take my advice and listen at home) they begin to understand the fast connected speech. CBC is good for content - but rather slow and formal in enunciation...

  2. Great ideas! Getting students to spend time just on the headlines themselves can be a really good lesson. There are so many idioms and expressions used in order to grab the reader's attention.

    I tend to use CBC news videos and have them listen to the short video clip first before seeing the video. I will have to try CFRB talk show radio to bump things up a bit!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi, I would be VERY interested in the CNN website for students with activity; however, I click on the link but cannot find "CNN Student news with listening, reading and comprehension questions". It leads me to the World CNN website with no activities... any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!!

  4. Here's a site you need to add ... Check it out!