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Enhancing the role of newspapers in writing skills class

Skript 2011 16 Seiten

Didaktik - Englisch - Pädagogik, Sprachwissenschaft




Dr. Shamim Ali is Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Functional Courses, National University of Modern Languages Islamabad. She earned her doctoral Degree in English Linguistics. She is interested in the areas of Reading Skills, Teacher Education ,TEFL Methodology, Assessment &Evaluation .Discourse Analysis and Applied Linguistic


The newspaper can be incorporated into almost any teaching curriculum, and which is particularly useful for teaching English language. This article will draw attention to some ways in which newspapers can be used in teaching writing skills. Newspaper is comfortable instructional valuable tool for language teachers ,and learners are more comfortable learning with a newspaper than with any other instructional materials. It can appeal to learners who are not easily motivated


Research on language learning proposes that newspapers are important device for language teachers to teach writing skills. In this article the researcher outlines a series of activities that employ the newspaper as a learning resource to develop both reading and writing tskills in language classroom. Sometimes prescribed reading materials fail to motivate language learners ,in this situation newspaper can be a easy instructional mean for adult learners. Researcher included materials from local and newspapers ,and tried to develop writing activities from different sections. The activities has been developed in an open learning format and may be used for assignments, development of skimming and scanning skills, individual study, development of indexing skills, and different components of writing skills.

Newspapers can be a valuable tool for teachers who work with adult education learners. Fenholt (1985) outlines a series of activities that employ the newspaper as a learning resource to develop both reading and life skills. Her argument is that Regular elementary level reading materials fail to motivate readers at the adult level and might be embarrassing for some adults to use. She sees the newspaper as a more comfortable instructional fit for adult learners . Fenholt's observation that adults might be more comfortable learning with a newspaper than with instructional materials. According to Monda, Vail, and Koorland (1988). They contend that,the newspaper can be helpful for the LD instructor who wants to create an individualized instructional program, since it can appeal to learners who are not easily motivated. The authors advocate using teaching strategies that target specific learning skills in reading, language arts, and in mathematics. Some of Monda, Vail, and Koorland's suggestions include: (1) using words in newspaper grocery ads, sports sections, or comics to teach alphabetizing; (2) using news stories to teach grammar; (3) having learners make charts or collages of words dealing with the five senses; (4) asking learners to select a picture or photograph and then to write their own accompanying stories; (5) having learners make a timeline of current events; (6) asking learners to write their own classified ads; (7) discussing the key elements of a book or movie review; and (8) asking learners to design their own newspaper to report events happening in class or in school .Many of the activities using newspapers for improving basic literacy can also be used with learners of English as a Second Language (ESL). In one case of instruction Janice Cohen (1994) to provide a curriculum to improve English skills and a knowledge of culture in the adult ESL speaker. The 12-week curriculum was devised to teach grammar and language skills within the context of humorous and relevant stories about daily living and was implemented with language learners. The newspaper was used as one instructional tool, among others. Results of the practicum were favorable, and learners achievement levels increased. A module developed by Ed Kissam and Holda Dorsey (1997) was used to assess the importance of Newspapers in language class rooms .It addresses how to access and use Newspapers resources to function in the language class and in daily living. Topics include: analyzing newspaper articles; accessing information on the Internet; and evaluating the reliability of information .Newspapers are great help for the language learners ,because most of the learners study second language for a specific purpose for some instrumental reasons and sometimes to be more effective professionally .These learners become challenge for teachers, they have multiple issues, they are not willing to tolerate boring or irrelevant content, or lessons that stress the learning of grammar rules out of context. Adult learners need materials designed to present structures and vocabulary that will be of immediate use to them, in a context which reflects the situations and functions they will encounter when using the new language. Materials and activities that do not incorporate real life experiences will succeed with few older learners. These adult learners usually develop learning strategies that serve them well in other contexts, so the most important factor in using Newspapers is that learners personally involved in order to make the learning experience of lasting value .At the same time Newspapers help teachers to conduct different activities in the classroom.

Teachers can encourage learners to participate in different exercises related to Newspaper, while at the same time refining and expanding writing skills, requires a certain pragmatic approach with the help of Newspapers .The teachers can facilitate learning of the target area through Newspaper . Once the target skill areas and means of implementation are defined, the teacher can then proceed to focus on what topic can be employed to ensure learners participation. By pragmatically combing these objectives, the teacher can expect both enthusiasm and effective learning. Choosing the target area depends on many factors; What level are the learners?, What is the average age of the learners, Why are the learners learning English, Are there any specific future intentions for the writing (i.e school tests or job application letters etc.). Other important questions to ask oneself are: What should the learners be able to produce at the end of this exercise? (a well written letter, basic communication of ideas, etc.) What is the focus of the exercise? (structure, tense usage, creative writing). Once these factors are clear in the mind of the teacher, the teacher can begin to focus on how to involve the learners in the activity thus promoting a positive, long-term learning experience by using Newspapers in the classroom .Having decided on the target area, the teacher can focus on the means to achieve this type of learning. As in correction, the teacher must choose the most appropriate manner for the specified writing area. If formal business letter English is required, it is of little use to employ a free expression type of exercise. Likewise, when working on descriptive language writing skills, a formal letter is equally out of place. With both the target area and means of production, clear in the teachers mind, the teacher can begin to consider how to involve the learners by considering what type of activities are interesting to the learners; Are they preparing for something specific such as a holiday or test?, Will they need any of the skills pragmatically? What has been effective in the past? A good way to approach this is by class feedback, or brainstorming sessions. By choosing a topic that involves the learners the teacher is providing a context within which effective learning on the target area can be under taken.

Finally, the question of which type of correction will facilitate a useful writing exercise is of utmost importance. Here the teacher needs to once again think about the overall target area of the exercise. If there is an immediate task at hand, such as taking a test, perhaps teacher guided correction is the most effective solution. However, if the task is more general (for example developing informal letter writing skills), maybe the best approach would be to have the learners work in groups thereby learning from each other. Most importantly, by choosing the correct means of correction the teacher can encourage rather discourage learners.

Warm up Activities

Activity 1 :

Using newspaper s for writing purpose in language classroom

Warm-up Exercise 1 (10-15 minutes)

Objective: Allow learners to start thinking about the parts of a newspaper and the terms used in the industry.

As learners arrive, give each a clip from the newspaper. Clips are divided into the following categories:



News story




Learners will match up with another learners and a teacher with clips in the same category. Once groups are arranged. For the warm-up exercise, use the glossary of newspaper terms. Teacher will lead a short Q & A session with the learners exploring the different parts of the clips. For example, teacher will ask learners, "What is the byline of your clip?" Learners can look up byline in the glossary and refer to their clip to answer the questions

Some terms to review:




News story


Cutline caption







Warm up activity 2

Give a topic from the newspaper and ask learners to think of anything related to it. Write the responses for all to see, or ask a volunteer to do the writing. You can use this to elicit vocabulary related to your lesson from the newspaper



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
614 KB
Institution / Hochschule
National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad
Newspaper Writing



Titel: Enhancing the role of newspapers in writing skills class